Melbourne, Tuesday – The Tamil Refugee Council has urged the Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke, to re-think his decision to promote James Packer’s casino venture in Sri Lanka.
It has been reported that Clarke has agreed to work on the education and training aspects of the proposed $400 million gambling resort, which is to receive huge tax concessions from the corrupt government of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“As a paid endorser of this new casino in Colombo, Michael Clarke should understand that he’s lending his name to the promotion of a government credibly accused of war crimes and a whole range of human rights abuses,” said Tamil Refugee Council spokesperson, Aran Mylvaganam.
“We urge him to think again. Recently the Canadian Foreign Minister, John Baird, described the decision to hold the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo next month as ‘accommodating evil.’ Packer, with the assistance of the Australian cricket captain, is doing exactly the same.
“It’s bad enough for a businessman like Packer to put the dollar ahead of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. But to use the most famous name in Australian sport to help him do it is disgraceful.
“The usual mantra about creating Sri Lankan jobs is meaningless in this context. These jobs pale against the damage that is done to the Tamil population by the continuation of the persecution, which Packer aids through his engagement with the government.
“Economic progress brings little benefit for Tamil people, most of whom are condemned to lives of poverty through the appropriation of their land and their livelihoods by a military-run Sinhalisation program in the Tamil homelands in the north and east”.
“Clarke should be aware he is lending his name to the promotion of a brutal regime that the United Nations has cited for war crimes and crimes against humanity for murdering at least 40,000 innocent civilians in 2009 and remains engaged in genocide and ethnic-cleansing of the Tamil population.
“We ask him: Would he do the same in Zimbabwe? We are sure he wouldn’t. Yet, in many ways, Rajapaksa has committed even worse crimes than the government of Robert Mugabe.
“They say he will be a mentor and role model during his visits to Sri Lanka. What sort of role model? His name and face will be plastered all over Sri Lanka, and internationally, giving succor and credibility to a government that, according to the UN and many other universally-respected agencies, murders, tortures, disappears, and rapes its own citizens“.
For further information contact Tamil Refugee Council 0400 597 351.