Sri Lanka Human Rights Project

About the Sri Lanka Human Rights Project

Primary Goal
This is a volunteer run project out of the Centre for 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.


Objectives

  • 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


Project description
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.


Convenors
Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies


Brami Jegan, Visiting Scholar, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies


Patron
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

CPACS’ Sri Lanka Human Rights Project has written a letter to Dr Celermajer. You can view this here

The CPACS 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.

Reports

Past Events

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

Press Gallery

Participants in the Sri Lanka Human Rights Project have written or appeared in the following articles:

Jake Lynch

Bruce Haigh

Brami Jegan

Gobie Rajalingam

Antony Loewenstein

David Feith