Dr Hugh McDermott, a member of New South Wales Legislative Assembly, has called on both the Premier and Opposition leader in New South Wales, Australia, to follow the lead of Ontario in recognising Sri Lanka’s genocide against Tamils and to refer the perpetrators of the genocide to the International Criminal Court.
McDermott’s statement comes in advance of Mullivaikkal remembrance on 18 May. 12 years have passed since the end of the armed conflict however no military official has been held accountable for grievous war crimes that took place.
In his statement, McDermott highlights report UN reports which revealed that in the last stages of the war;
“Tamil civilians were ordered by the Sri Lankan Government to assemble in no-fire zones to guarantee their safety from the fighting. These zones included internationally recognised safe spaces during war, such as hospitals and schools. These no‑fire zones were then repeatedly and systematically targeted by aerial bombings and artillery fire”.
He further adds:
“An estimated 40,000 non‑combatant men, women and children were murdered. Further, Tamil civilians were repeatedly subjected to acts of torture, rape and kidnapping, all of which were systematically performed by the Sri Lankan military”.
In his statement, McDermott stressed that “as Sri Lanka is not a party to the Rome Statute, the referral [to the International Criminal Court] must receive unanimous support from all UN Security Council members”. He further notes the efforts of parliamentarians across Europe to achieve this such as the “twenty-one parliamentarians from across France [who] have called on President Macron to use France's influence as a member of the United Nations Security Council to make that referral happen”.
His statement further maintained that Australia should follow suit and recognise Sri Lanka’s “appalling acts as genocide”.
McDermott also thanked the Tamil community in western Sydney noting;
"My family and I have been incredibly fortunate to make many Tamil friends within the Tamil community. I am inspired by their resilience, their kindness, and their hardworking nature".
As members of Parliament, we must fight for justice, champion human rights, and support our multicultural community. The Tamil community deserves justice. We need a State and Federal approach to this path of reconciliation.
Responding to his statement, Gajen Ponnambalam, thanked him on Twitter stating:
— Gajen Ponnambalam MP (@GGPonnambalam) May 14, 2021
Read his full statement here.