[A PDF copy of the statement can be downloaded here, and the Socialist Alliance has set up a page of solidarity resources here.]
Despite international calls for a cease-fire, the conflict in Sri Lanka continues to escalate.
The district health official in the conflict zone has stated that 40-50 Tamil civilians are dying each day. Most recently the Sri Lankan government issued orders to doctors and other health staff to leave the conflict area immediately.
In an attempt to put an urgent stop to the humanitarian catastrophe, a group of young Tamil Australians have written a ‘Sri Lankan Crisis Statement’ for the wider Australian community to sign.
From 2 March 2009 we will take it to the media and the Australian government to raise our concern for this largely unreported war.
If you want to sign this statement, please leave a comment on this page or email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible with your name and title.
Please forward it to other contacts who maybe interested in signing this statement.
****** STATEMENT ******
We are Australian citizens who share a deep concern about the escalating civilian crisis in Sri Lanka.
We call on the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan authorities and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam declare an immediate ceasefire.
We are deeply concerned about the lack of medical staff and aid agencies serving the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in the conflict zone. In September 2008, the Sri Lankan government evicted United Nations and international aid agencies from these areas.
While the local Red Cross is still operating within the conflict area, their presence is threatened by the ongoing conflict. The departure of international witnesses within the conflict area will remove accountability for all parties to the conflict.
The Sri Lankan government has also issued orders to doctors and other health staff to leave the conflict area immediately.
We demand the Sri Lankan government allow international monitoring and medical and aid agencies unrestricted access to the conflict zones immediately.
In direct violation of the Geneva Convention, civilian hospitals in the conflict zones have repeatedly come under aerial bombing and shelling. Furthermore, on 2 February 2009 the Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse stated that everything outside a government declared safety-zone is a military target and no exception will be given to medical facilities.
We urge the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan government stop the aerial bombing of hospitals and both parties cease placing civilians in direct cross fire in all areas. Foreign and domestic media have been banned from entering the conflict zones since January 2008, when the government unilaterally withdrew from a cease-fire and commenced its military offensive. Without independent reporting, it is impossible to separate fact from propaganda mitigated by all parties to the conflict.
We call on the Australian government to pressure Sri Lankan officials to permit independent journalists unrestricted access to the conflict zones.
Furthermore, we recognise that the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka have been subject to ethnic discrimination by successive Sri Lankan governments since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.
We acknowledge that all people, including the Tamils, have the right to self-determination and must freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
We acknowledge that a military solution to this conflict will not bring lasting peace to Sri Lanka.
With the intention of ensuring long-term peace, we call on the Australian government to lead political negotiations that recognise the legitimate aspirations and protects the human rights of all Sri Lankans.
- Wendy Bacon, Professor of Journalism, University of Technology, Sydney
- Chris Nash, Professor of Journalism, Monash University
- Antony Loewenstein, Independent journalist and author
- Damien Kingsbury, Associate Professor, Deakin University
- Charles David, NSW Public Service retiree
- Jude Prakash, Chartered accountant
- Jeff Loewenstein, Barrister