MEDIA RELEASE 9 April 2012
Australian abducted in Sri Lanka: Greens call on Carr to take quick action
Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has called on Foreign Minister Bob Carr to make urgent representations to the Sri Lankan government to find Australian citizen, Mr Premakumara Gunarathnam, feared abducted in Colombo.
"I share the concerns of Mr Gunarathnam's family and friends that his life is in danger and that the Australian government should provide every assistance through the High Commissioner in Sri Lanka and directly by Minister Carr taking up this case with his counterparts in Sri Lanka," Senator Rhiannon said.
"When I spoke today to Dr Somaratna, Mr Gunarathnam's wife, she said how terrified she feels for his safety and well being.
"Speaking from her Sydney home Dr Somaratna requested that the Australian government do everything possible to find her husband.
"Reports from Sri Lanka suggest that Mr Gunarathnam could be the latest victim of the ‘white van’ abductions that have been linked with local death squads and the Sri Lankan government.
“I find it extremely worrying that it is being reported that President Rajapakse's brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse has given the order to arrest and kill Mr. Gunarathnam.
"Kidnappings and killings have been used by the Sri Lankan government since the 1980s.
"I understand that Mr Gunarathnam had been visiting Colombo and working with Sri Lankan activists.
"Some members of his family had already been detained by the Sri Lanka authorities. When his wife Dr Somaratna visited Sri Lanka with her children in December last year, they were followed by these sinister ‘white vans’ and when they arrived at the airport to depart they were detained for 18 hours with their young children separated from their mother.
"I have received reports that there have been 29 disappearances between February and March this year and a total of 56 over the last six months.
"For too long Australia has taken a softly softly approach with the Sri Lanka government in order to retain the Rajapakse regime's assistance in stopping asylum seekers leaving by boat for Australia.
“This is not the first time that Australian citizens have been in danger in Sri Lanka because of their political views.
"Now every effort should be made by our Government to locate this missing Australian man quickly," Senator Rhiannon said.
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