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Objection to Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Australia

New Zealand Tamils Object to the Nomination of Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Australia

The Tamil Youth Organisation of New Zealand (TYONZ) is deeply concerned over the nomination of former Sri Lankan navy chief, Thisara Samarasinghe, as the new Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia. Army and navy personnel have been implicated in war crimes against Tamils during and after the Sri Lankan civil war. We call upon on the New Zealand government to urge the Australian government to reject the nomination of Admiral Samarasinghe.

The Sri Lankan High Commission in Australia also services several Pacific nations, including New Zealand, making this appointment a concern for TYONZ and the Tamil Diaspora in New Zealand. We echo the calls of former NSW attorney-general and Supreme Court justice John Dowd- who is collecting evidence for the International Commission of Jurists to present to an eventual war crimes tribunal in Sri Lanka – that appointing military officials for diplomatic posts is of grave concern.

Admiral Samarasinghe commanded operations in Sri Lanka’s eastern and northern waters during the final three years of the fighting. There have been numerous calls raised by the United Nations to allow an independent war crimes investigation into the conduct of the Sri Lankan government and armed forces during the war.

TYONZ strongly urges the New Zealand government to object to the appointment of military personnel into diplomatic posts- especially when these personnel have been implicated in war crimes. This would be deeply distressing for the Tamil Diaspora in New Zealand, most of whom lost loved ones in the war.

Tamils are still not treated as equals in Sri Lanka. The effort to rebuild their lives has been hampered by continued human rights abuses by the government of Sri Lanka.

ENDS

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