Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has criticised Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s decision to strengthen the country’s strengthening of military and intelligence co-operation with Sri Lanka amid increasing reports of human rights abuses. In a statement released on Monday, Senator Rhiannon said,

“I urge Minister Carr to acquaint himself with reports out of Sri Lanka that on 12 December, 17 Tamil women were admitted to a hospital in Northern Sri Lanka. There is concern that these women had been sexually abused and brutalised by the Sri Lankan military” “I have been contacted by a number of Tamils living in Australia who are very distressed about these latest developments.” “Australia’s standing as a country committed to promoting peace and protecting human rights is at risk if Minister Carr seeks to strengthen military ties while turning a blind eye to ongoing abuses in Sri Lanka”.
Her statement follows on from Australia Greens Leader Christine Milne urging Carr last week to hold Sri lanka to account for alleged human rights abuses. She stated,
“Submissions to the UN Human Rights Council from international and Sri Lankan human rights organisations have documented the continued extrajudicial killings by military operatives, suspicious deaths in police custody, disappearances by paramilitary groups, white van abductions, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention of alleged members of armed groups, their family members and colleagues, as well as outspoken critics and perceived political opponents of the Government, including journalists. “It is time for the Government to explain how our diplomats in Geneva can condemn human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, while our bureaucrats in Canberra can send asylum seekers back to this very violence and persecution they are fleeing.” “I have raised concerns with Minister Carr about these human rights abuses and have asked the Minister how the Government can guarantee the safety of returned asylum seekers. I have also raised with the Minister my concerns about the level of engagement between the Sri Lankan navy and the Australian Federal Police in the disruption and interception of asylum seeker vessels.” (TG)
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