Tamils in Australia request the Australian PM to raise the accountability and other issues at the Commonwealth Heads of Government forum

As one of the many selected multi-cultural organizations invited by the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard MP, for a special Budget Briefing at Parliament House in Canberra, Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations (AFTA), was represented by its Secretary Dr. Victor Rajakulendran, at the event held on Wednesday, the day after the budget was tabled in parliament, media release issued by AFTA said. AFTA presented a submission at the event to the Prime Minister as the current Chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, requesting her to take steps to pressure Sri Lanka to comply with the resolution passed at the 19th session of the UNHRC in Geneva and to bring back normalcy to the war affected North and East of Sri Lanka. More than 60 representatives of invited community organizations and journalists were in attendance at the Parliament House in Canberra for this Special Budget Briefing.

Senator Kate Lundy introduced the Prime Minister to community representatives and then the Prime Minister greeted each representative and spoke with each briefly. AFTA's letter was handed over to the Prime Minister during this engagement.

AFTA's submission summarized the facts about the situation prevailing on the ground including military administration in the North of the country, abductions and disappearances, high security zones, military assisted colonization and building of Buddhist shrines in Tamil areas.

AFTA's letter to Prime Minster Julia Gillard

Arguing that although Sri Lanka has appointed commissions such as Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) pretending to be working towards achieving reconciliation and finding a permanent solution to the long-standing conflict, the facts presented indicate clearly that on the ground nothing has changed even 3 years after the end of the war, AFTA has called on the Prime Minister, as the current Chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, to discuss Sri Lanka’s failure to uphold the values of the Commonwealth of Nations in this forum and take other necessary steps to make Sri Lanka comply with the resolution passed at the 19th session of the UNHRC in Geneva in March 2012 and bring back normalcy to the war affected North and East.

AFTA also thanked the Prime Minister for co-sponsoring the UNHRC Resolution calling for accountability for the alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed particularly during the last phase of the war and to find a political solution and achieve reconciliation as well as for the generous financial assistance provided by Australian Government for the welfare of the war affected people during the financial year 2011-12 as announced by Minister Hon Chris Bowen while visiting Sri Lanka recently.

The meeting started off with short speeches on different aspects of the budget by Minister for Sport, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator the Hon Kate Lundy; Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator the Hon Penny Wong; Minister for Mental Health and Aging, Minister for Social Inclusion, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform, the Hon Mark Butler MP; Deputy Leader in the Senate, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy; Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Minister for Disability Reform, the Hon Jenny Macklin MP; Minister for Employment and workplace Relations, Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Hon Chris Bowen MP.

It is felt that if similar requests are made to the leaders of Britain, Canada, South Africa and India; the key members of the Commonwealth of Nations which are keen on finding a solution to the Sri Lankan conflict, it will add strength to AFTA’s request.

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