Senator Madigan and Senator Xenaphon moved a motion in the Senate last week (21 March) about the US initiated resolution on Sri Lanka at the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The Greens would have supported the Senate motion if it included a note that the resolution could be strengthened by calling for an independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka.
However when this note was removed from the motion, the Greens had to withdraw their support, for the reasons outlined below.
Statement from Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.
“While I believe this motion has been moved in good faith by Senator Madigan and Senator Xenephon, the Australian Greens are unable to congratulate the Australian government in supporting the empty US-initiated resolution on Sri Lanka, tabled at the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The US resolution is weak. Rather than supporting the recommendations of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which called for an independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law, the US resolution urges the Sri Lankan Government to conduct the investigation.
To urge the Sri Lankan Government to implement its own investigation into the war crimes it is accused of is an insult to the principles of human rights. Accusations of the deaths of up to 40 000 Tamils in five months, the systematic sexual abuse of countless men and women, the execution of a 12 year old boy in their custody, the incarceration of about 330 000 Tamils at the end of the war, the suppression of media freedom and the continuing intimidation of its citizens.
An independent and credible international investigation is definitely needed. But it won't happen by urging the Government of Sri Lanka to implement it.
The last week has seen hundreds of thousands of young people in India protesting in demand for an independent international investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity that have taken place in Sri Lanka.
The Times of India ran a story yesterday headlined – 525 Colleges Shut as Students Protest.
The uprising in India has been inspiring and has given hope that change is possible.
To show their support for their brothers and sisters in Tamil Naadu, Tamils all over the world have been sending messages of solidarity.
Today the Greens will send a message of hope to those hundreds of thousands of young people asking for stronger international action, for an independent investigation into the Sri Lankan civil war. We do so by not supporting this motion.