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Turn up heat on Sri Lankan High Commissioner: Greens

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 17 Jul 2012

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has called for the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Thisara Samarasinghe to be recalled, following today's reports that he oversaw efforts to stop Tamil asylum-seekers fleeing by boat to escape the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils in Sri Lanka in 2009.

"These boastful claims by the High Commissioner are embarrassing to the Australian government and raise the question of why Mr Samarasinghe continues to hold his position while allegations of his involvement in war crimes hang over his head" said Senator Rhiannon.

"In recent Senate budget estimates, I confirmed that the Australian Federal Police are evaluating a brief that reportedly contains allegations against Mr Samarasinghe. 

"Mr Samarasinghe was a high ranking Sri Lankan Naval chief at the time when the military committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. 

"The Federal Court of Canada recently refused to accept a refugee application from a former Sri Lankan naval officer because he was complicit in war crimes in 2009.

"This Canadian ruling should sound a large warning to the Australian government not to turn a blind eye to the High Commissioner's role during the Sri Lankan civil war.

"If the Prime Minister has information which clears the High Commissioner of any complicity in the war crimes then she should share this with the Australian people.

"If not, the Australian government should immediately ask the Sri Lankan Government to recall its High Commissioner, or move to expel him" said Senator Rhiannon.


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