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Time for Rudd to act on call for Sri Lankan war crimes tribunal

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 17 Oct 2011

Responding to today's report about war crimes in Sri Lanka Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has urged Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd to add his voice to the growing international call for an independent investigation into the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war (Sydney Morning Herald).

"The report from the Australian Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists linking the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Thisara Samarasinghe with war crimes in Sri Lanka is extremely serious," Senator Rhiannon said.

"With a delegation from Sri Lanka, headed up by their President Mahinda Rajapakse due to arrive shortly in Perth for CHOGM, the Australia Government can no longer refuse to take action.

"Mr Rudd should follow the lead of the British and Canadian Prime Ministers, who have both spoken about Sri Lankan war crimes.

"I understand that Admiral Samarasinghe's claim that 'the Sri Lanka Navy did not fire at civilians during any stage', is untrue. Australian's who were in the conflict zone in 2009, have told me that the Navy engaged in direct fire from the seashore into heavily populated civilian areas throughout the last five months of the war.

"According to a former United Nations spokesperson up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the later stages of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009.

"In May 2010, my colleague Adam Bandt said the Australian Government would not be wise to accept ex-military officers for diplomatic positions. This appointment should once again be revisited in light of the ICJ submission to the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions," Senator Rhiannon said.

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