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Distinguished Australians speak at NSW Parliament on Human Rights in Sri Lanka

June 16, 2009


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  1. Australians for Tamil Justice permalink
    June 16, 2009 2:37 pm

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE on 16 June 2009 8:00 AM –

    Distinguished Australians speak at NSW Parliament on Human Rights in Sri Lanka

    Three distinguished Australians, Hon. John Dowd AO QC, Dr. John Whitehall and Mr. Bruce Haigh, will address a forum at NSW Parliament House tonight 6.30PM on Human Rights in Sri Lanka and Australia’s Role.

    The event comes a week after it was revealed that the Australian government decided not to place the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on Australia’s list of terrorist organisations.

    Since the Government of Sri Lanka reported it had won the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, accusations of human rights violations and war crimes on both sides of the conflict have been emerging. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has repeatedly called for an international independent investigation into such violations. However, Sri Lanka has blatantly opposed such an idea.

    Furthermore, despite reporting an end to the war on 19 May 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka has still not permitted unrestricted access to the ICRC, UN agencies, international aid groups, media or independent observers to the 300,000 Tamil civilians it currently holds indefinitely in heavily militarised concentration camps.

    Allegations of rape, torture and abductions continue to emerge from the concentration camps, and an estimated 10,000 Tamils have been taken away for interrogation by security forces and their whereabouts are unknown.

    Civilians in the region have not had access to UN and international aid agencies since September 2008, when the Government of Sri Lanka ordered them to leave Tamil areas of the north of the island..

    Hon. John Dowd AO QC is the President of the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and chair of the Executive Committee of ICJ Geneva. He has been on ICJ missions to Hong Kong, East Timor and Nepal, and led the Australian Government Delegation to Palestine to monitor the Palestinian Legislative Council Elections. A former NSW Attorney-General and Supreme Court judge, John Dowd is currently the Chancellor of the Southern Cross University and recently elected president of ActionAid Australia (formerly Austcare).

    Dr. John Whitehall is a paediatrician and Associate Professor in Public Health at James Cook University. He has done voluntary medical work in Sri Lanka in 2004 and 2005, and in 2006 was a finalist for Senior Australian of the Year for his work raising relief funds for victims of the Asian tsunami. John Whitehall is the co-author of the book War and Medicine, a collection of short stories of the experiences of medical practioners in NorthEast Sri Lanka.

    Mr. Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and author and a former Australian diplomat. Having joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1972, he has extensive experience in South Asia, the Middle East and South Africa, including as Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Counsellor in the Australian Embassy in Pakistan. As First Secretary in the Australian Embassy in South Africa, Bruce Haigh initiated Embassy contact with members of the black South African resistance and helped a number of political activists to escape South Africa.

    Media Contact:

    Dr. Sam Pari – 0433 428 967


  1. Distinguished Australians speak at Federal Parliament on Human Rights in Sri Lanka « Australians for Tamil Justice

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