Foreign Minister Bob Carr's decision to strengthen Australia's military and intelligence cooperation with the Sri Lankan government at a time when there are increasing reports of human rights abuses directly linked to the Rajapakse regime has been criticised by Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.
"I urge Minister Carr to acquaint himself with reports out of Sri Lanka that on 12 December, 17 Tamil women were admitted to a hospital in Northern Sri Lanka. There is concern that these women had been sexually abused and brutalised by the Sri Lankan military", said Senator Rhiannon.
"I have been contacted by a number of Tamils living in Australia who are very distressed about these latest developments.
"The reports I have received indicate that the women were recently recruited into the Sri Lankan army and some were unconscious when admitted to hospital. All were immediately isolated from other patients and I have been informed that a parliamentarian from the Tamil National Alliance was denied access to the women.
"Greens Leader Christine Milne last week urged Minister Carr to speak with Sri Lankan officials during his visit about ongoing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, including persistent discrimination, torture, disappearances and abductions.
"Sexual abuse and torture of Tamil women by the Sri Lankan Military has been widely documented by the British media, the Tamil National Alliance and human rights groups.
"The Women's Action Network (WAN), a collective of 11 women's groups from Sri Lanka's North and East, has released a statement alleging that the Sri Lankan military have been recruiting Tamil women using deception and refusing to allow the women to leave.
"These reports of violence against women come on the back of the recent detention of students at Jaffna University, where it was reported that the secretary of the Jaffna university students union was arrested and tortured by the Sri Lankan Terrorist Investigation Department.
"Australia's standing as a country committed to promoting peace and protecting human rights is at risk if Minister Carr seeks to strengthen military ties while turning a blind eye to ongoing abuses in Sri Lanka", said Senator Rhiannon.