Sri Lanka Human Rights Project
This is a volunteer run project out of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney.
This project advocates human rights norms as Sri Lanka's post-conflict situation. In doing so, the project seeks to raise awareness about the country's censored emergency and help work towards a peaceful and just solution for the multi-ethnic people of Sri Lanka.
This project is part of the international campaign calling for an independent investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigerss in 2009.
- Establish relevant links with grassroots organisations, concerned NGOs, academics and parliamentarians in Australia. The resulting networks will serve as a conduit for the dissemination of public information and as a voice for Sri Lanka’s marginalised population.
- Raise public awareness of Sri Lanka’s post-conflict situation with an emphasis on its human rights emergency and
- In fostering awareness amongst the constituents of the Australian public, the project seeks to create a medium for dialogue and understanding between Sri Lanka’s ethnic groups
In light of the injustice that permeates post-conflict Sri Lanka, the project aims to raise awareness and invoke action towards the country’s human rights disaster, and for an unreconciled minority population who continue to fall victim to the impunity of the Sri Lankan state. The Sri Lanka Human Rights Project calls for an international independent investigation into war crimes, such that perpetrators can be brought to justice and an environment for reconciliation promoted amongst the multi-ethnic people of Sri Lanka.
Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies
Brami Jegan, Visiting Scholar, Department Peace and Conflict Studies
Bruce Haigh, former Australian diplomat to South Africa, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka
Conflict in Sri Lanka
In May 2009, after 26 years of failed cease-fires and ongoing civil conflict, the Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan Government declared it had defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after army forces captured the last patch of rebel held territory in the north east of the country. Nearly 215,000 people have been killed in the country’s civil war, with former Australian UN official in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss, stating that up to 40,000 civilians died in the last few months of the war.
In October 2009 the US State Department submitted a report on incidents that occurred during the final months of the Sri Lankan civil war. The report detailed allegations that "may constitute violations of international humanitarian law and/or crimes against humanity, and...human rights abuses."
A September 2011 report by a UN panel of experts appointed by Ban Ki Moon suggested that up to 40,000 civilians were massacred by the Sri Lankan army, evidence that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes in 2009.
It is imperative that the international community acts accordingly and brings perpetrators to justice.
In a move to encourage action against Sri Lanka, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has urged the boycotting of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, set to be hosted by Sri Lanka, if the country does not improve its human rights record.
Locally, the Greens Party has called on the Australian government to use its position as host of the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth to suspend the government of Sri Lanka from the Councils of the Commonwealth if it fails to:
- Agree to an international independent investigation into war crimes
- Restore human rights and the rule of law
- Implement all of the recommendations of the UN Expert Panel Report on War Crimes in Sri Lanka
Despite the cessation of direct violence, a culture of persecution permeates Sri Lanka. For sustainable peace to be achieved, it is vital that the perpetrators of war crimes be brought to justice, such that an environment for dialogue and reconciliation can be established.
Letter to Dr Celermajer
The University of Sydney’s approach to the “Enhancing Human Rights and Security in the Asia Pacific conference” due to be held in Bangkok on 15 & 16 of September 2014 is extremely concerning.
Dr Celermajer’s letter to conference participants was covered by both Fairfax and The Guardian.
The UK based Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice have written an open letter to all participants. You can view this here
DPACS’ Sri Lanka Human Rights Project has written a letter to Dr Celermajer. You can view this here
The DPACS Council fully supports the letter from the Convenors of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Project, Associate-Professor Jake Lynch and Brami Jegan, to Professor Danielle Celermajer, raising serious issues about her handling of the Bangkok Conference on Enhancing Human Rights and Security in the Asia Pacific currently being held.
- September 2011: Failures of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission, Amnesty International
- July 2011: Reconciliation in Sri Lanka: Harder than Ever, International Crisis Group
- March 2011: Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, United Nations
- September 2010: The Breakdown of the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka: An Overview, Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice
- May 2010: War Crimes in Sri Lanka, International Crisis Group
- January 2010: World Report – Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch
- October 2009: US Department Of State 2009 Report to Congress on Incidents During the Recent Conflict in Sri Lanka, US Department of State
27th October, 2011 – Time for action on Sri Lanka war crimes: Where journalism led, will governments follow?
Hosted by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, the University of Sydney and the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism
View the event flyer for more information
Participants in the Sri Lanka Human Rights Project have written or appeared in the following articles:
- August 4, 2011, War crimes in Sri Lanka and political options for Australia, Crikey
- May 17, 2010, Memo, 'Cockroach' Kev, show some leadership on asylum, Crikey.
- April 8, 2010, Panglossian Picture, Letters to the Editor, The Australian.
- November 23, 2009, Sri Lanka: What happens next?, Transcend Media Service.
- November 2, 2009, Time to stand up for human rights in Sri Lanka - at last, Transcend Media Service.
- October 15, 2009, Next Time Check Your Facts, Philip, newmatilda.com.
- September 1, 2009, Sri Lanka: Reliable accounts, Transcend Media Service.
- June 10, 2009, Up close and spineless, Unleashed, ABC Online.
- February 11, 2010, Untrustworthy Source, Australian Financial Review and The Canberra Times.
- October 16, 2009, The Tamils are fleeing because no one will ease their plight, The Age.
- October 15, 2009, Unnecessary Suffering, Unleashed, ABC Online.
- October 13, 2009, Australia fails again, The Australian Financial Review.
- September 3, 2009, The politics of terrorism, Unleashed, ABC Online.
- September 1, 2009, Terrorists or tomorrow’s allies? The Canberra Times.
- May 22, 2009, Tamil genocide all but sanctioned by Australia’s apathy The Canberra Times.
- June 6, 2010, Rudd's tougher refugee line could criminalise humanitarian aid, Crikey.
- November 24, 2009, Tamil asylum seekers, ABC Radio National's Life Matters Program.
- November 20, 2009, UN notes Sri Lankan progress on camps, ABC Radio's The World Today Program.
- November 18, 2009, Putting words into action, co-authored with Nathan Sri, The Hub.
- May 24, 2010, Labor's asylum policy continues to sink, The Lowy Institute's The Interpreter Blog.
- April 8, 2010, Panglossian Picture, Letters to the Editor, The Australian.
- February 13, 2010, Show your concern, Letters to the Editor, The Age.
- October 14, 2009, Boat people a symptom of Sri Lanka's dark side, The Lowy Institute's The Interpreter Blog.
- June 2, 2011, Boycotts and literary festivals, Overland
- October 22, 2010, A one-eyed view of Sri Lanka, ABC’s The Drum
- October 1, 2010, Privatisation – financial fundamentalism without an analysis of the real costs, Sydney Morning Herald
- April 22, 2010, Tamils vote for independence – and will vote against labour, Crikey
- March 22, 2010, Christmas Island ‘pressure cooker’ could explode after UN review, Crikey
- February 1, 2010, Australia rolls out the welcome mat for war criminal retirees, Crikey.
- December 9, 2009, What it means to advocate the ‘Sri Lanka model’ for Israel/Palestine, Mondoweiss: The War of Ideas in the Middle East.
- December14, 2009, Australia Snubs Tamil Refugees, The Nation, Australia.
- October 8, 2009, Neither Sri Lanka nor Israel should have impunity in their ‘wars on terror’, The Daily Star.
- April 23, 2010, (with Damien Kingsbury), Tamils have no voice in Sri Lanka, The Sydney Morning Herald
- March 25, 2010, Tamil asylum seekers still need protection, The Sydney Morning Herald
- October 30, 2009, Tamils’ horrific treatment makes them desperate to leave, The Sydney Morning Herald