The murder of Yogarasa Thines at the hands of Sri Lankan police on 9 July shows that Tamils are still not safe in their country, says the Tamil Refugee Council.
Thines, aged in his 20s, was shot several times by officers in Vadamaradchi East, in the Jaffna district of the country’s Northern Province, which is majority Tamil. He reportedly had been hitchhiking home from a Hindu temple.
Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who visited Australia in February, has urged Tamils seeking asylum here to return. “All is forgiven,” he said. “They are welcome to return to Sri Lanka and we won’t prosecute them.”
But this latest act of violence against an unarmed Tamil is more confirmation that the Sri Lankan regime cannot be trusted.
Thines’ death follows the gunning down by police of two Jaffna University students in October. In December, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment noted the lack of even “minimal guarantees of protection against the power of the State, in particular its security forces.
“Torture and ill-treatment, including of a sexual nature, still occur, in particular in the early stages of arrest and interrogation, often for the purpose of eliciting confessions,” he wrote.
Despite the well-documented dangers facing Tamils in Sri Lanka, many Tamil asylum seekers continue to languish in Australian detention centres and are threatened with deportation.
The Tamil Refugee Council is calling:
- For the release of all Tamil asylum seekers currently held in Australian detention centres
- for the granting of permanent protection visas to all Tamil asylum seekers
- on the Australian government to end collaboration with the Sri Lankan regime until such time as it stops its oppression of and discrimination against Tamils and other minorities in the country
COMMENTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON ARAN MYLVAGANAM:
“This latest killing confirms what we already knew: Sri Lanka remains unsafe for Tamils”
“The civil war ended almost a decade ago, but the promises of a transition to genuine peace and equality remain unfulfilled”
“The Australian government should listen to the international agencies’ evidence about the situation in Sri Lanka, rather than the claims of a regime stacked with people complicit in the killing of Tamils”
“Tamils who suffered under a genocidal regime in Sri Lanka continue to suffer at the hands of the Australia government. It has to stop. Tamils must be freed and given protection, rather than more arbitrary detention”
Media contact: Aran Mylvaganam 0410 197 814 or Tamilrefugeecouncil@gmail.com