Senate debates

Tuesday, 9 May 2023


Human Rights: Sri Lanka

8:50 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

The month of May is the most painful month for the Eelam Tamils. Eelam Tamils have endured 14 years of pain without any form of accountability from the Sri Lankan state, who committed the most heinous genocide on Eelam Tamils. The no-fire zones were bombed continuously without any remorse, and today Tamil Eelam, the homeland of Eelam Tamils, is being taken away by the Sri Lankan genocidal regime. The regime has been committing genocidal actions since 1948, yet it was at its peak in 2009. The peak of the genocide resulted in atrocities of rape, children being killed mercilessly and constant bombing, yet the world was silent. In the month of May, Eelam Tamils will resist yet remember the heroes that fought until the end for their freedom.

There has been intergenerational trauma carried down to the Eelam Tamils due to the lack of justice received for the community. Mullivaikkal will be remembered as the land of Tamil Eelam that was burnt to the ground, with thousands being tortured since then. The world must speak up, and the Australian government cannot continue to remain silent on this and must stand with Eelam Tamils when engaging with the genocidal Sri Lankan government.

Eelam Tamils fled their own homeland, and now refugees in Australia are in fear of being deported to danger. I met one woman, named Rita, whose story reflects the atrocities experienced by Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka and the ongoing violence suffered in Australia due to our dehumanising immigration policies. Rita's story is one of many. I will now read some words that she wrote to share.

'During the peak of the genocide in 2009, my husband died in Mullivaikkal, in the so-called no-fire zone. My son was only 13 years old. The Sri Lankan army captured me and my son and put us in a camp for all the Eelam Tamils who were captured. After I was released from the camp, the army and the Sri Lanka police always came to my home to see who was living there, and one day when they came I was sexually assaulted while my son and mother were in the next room. I lived in shame as the Sri Lankan authorities treated me less than an animal and, like an object, tossed me over to the side with added trauma. A month after this, I left my homeland, Tamil Eelam, leaving my son with my mother to try and find a better solution for our family. My son was 16 years old when I left, as I had no choice but to leave. In 2009, when my son was 23 years old, he was studying in Sri Lanka, hoping to come here on a student visa. But, before this could happen, he left with his friends and came here by plane. He left knowing there was no future in Sri Lanka for him. He has been in detention since then, which is now four years. His protection claim is refused. One of the main reasons was that he could not talk about my assault. It was too traumatic to relive those moments, as he was only young when it occurred. He does not have to tell anyone. Now my son has been asked by Serco and Immigration when he would like to go back to Sri Lanka. The only remaining member of my family has been separated from me. Even with the announcement made by the government about people on temporary protection visas and SHEV getting permanent residency, I am unable to celebrate as my son is still in detention and facing deportation back to Sri Lanka where he will face a high danger of persecution.'

I want all refugees to be given permanency in this country. Eelam Tamils also want to acknowledge the ongoing genocide against our people. All refugees should be freed and given a new life, and they are certainly welcome here by First Nations people.


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