In 2015 Sri Lanka signed Resolution 30-1 at the UN Human Rights Council, agreeing to set up a judicial mechanism to investigate allegations of war crimes with the participation of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorised prosecutors and investigators. Further, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) recommended that the Government of Sri Lanka accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The UN Human Rights Council must hold Sri Lanka to full implementation of its promises to the Council and ensure the full implementation of the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In July 2015, the International Truth & Justice Project (ITJP), published a report - Still Unfinished War: Sri Lanka's Survivors of Torture and Sexual Violence 2009-2015 which detailed more than 40 torture sites in Sri Lanka while naming over 60 rapists and torturers.
This evidence confirmed that systematic and widespread crimes against humanity, sexual violence and intimidation have not ceased with the change of government, now under Maithripala Sirisena. The appointment of accused war criminals to top military positions and diplomatic posts indicates that victims and survivors in Sri Lanka cannot expect justice from any domestic mechanism.
Even though Australia will continue to maintain its silence against Sri Lanka's atrocities, it is so crucial the international community does not drop its campaign for accountability and an independent international war crimes investigation.
For a PDF version of Lee's Tamil Justice booklet click here.
Lee's work on Sri Lanka
- PR: New evidence of cluster bombs in Sri Lanka: UN must action, 21 June 2016
- Event: Tamil short film and audio release, 17 January 2016
- Speech and Event: The Tamil struggle for freedom, justice and a homeland, 27 Nov 2015
- Speech: Tamil political prisoners and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 10 Nov 2015
- Press Release: Shocking new evidence of ongoing torture and sexual violence in Sri Lanka, 30 July 2015
- Event: Remembering Black July, 26 June 2015
- Speech: New South Wales State Election: Tamil Community, 23 June 2015
- Event: Campaign launch with Sujan Selven, 1 Mar 2015
- Visit: Lee plays scrabble with refugees at Villawood Immigration Prison, 27 Jan 2015
- Event: Launching Dr Brian Senewiratne's book, 19 Jan 2015
- Speech: Remembering the Tamils in Sri Lanka, 26 Nov 2014
- Event: Meeting with the Melbourne Tamil diaspora and youth, 16 Nov 2014
- Event: Lee launches Trevor Grant's book 'Sri Lanka's Secrets' in Sydney, 25 Oct 2014
- 2014 Senate Estimates: DFAT - on allegations of mistreatment of Tamils returned to Sri Lanka, 23 Oct 2014
- Event: Lee launches Trevor Grant's book 'Sri Lanka's Secrets' in Perth, 7 Oct 2014
- 2014 Senate Estimates: ASIO - whether anyone who had been employed in the Sri Lankan defence forces or senior levels in that government are now working for ADF, 7 Oct 2014
- 2014 Senate Estimates: AFP - on Mr Dinesh Perera, former member of the SLA who has held position of acting G4S centre operations manager at the Manus Island regional processing centre, 26 May 2014
- 2014 Senate Estimates: DFAT - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 27 Feb 2014
- Motion: Independent war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka, 13 Feb 2014
- 2013 Senate Estimates: Border Protection - Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 19 Nov 2013
- 2013 Senate Estimates: AFP - Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 18 Nov 2013
- 2013 Senate Estimates: ASIO - Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 18 Nov 2013
- Blog: Lee's Sri Lanka trip diary, 12 Nov 2013
- Guardian editorial: My detention highlights why Australia should boycott CHOGM, 11 Nov 2013
- Press Release: Australian Senate calls on PM Abbott to raise Sri Lanka’s human rights abuses at CHOGM, 14 Nov 2013
- Media Alert: Greens Senator Rhiannon returns to Australia after detainment - will report on Sri Lanka human rights abuses, 10 Nov 2013
- Joint Statement: Sri Lanka should not host CHOGM, 10 Nov 2013
- Media Alert: Greens Senator Rhiannon is in Sri Lanka to discuss human rights in the country on eve of CHOGM, 8 Nov 2013
- 2013 Senate Estimates: AusAid - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 6 June 2013
- 2013 Senate Estimates: DFAT - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 5 June 2013
- 2013 Senate Estimates: AFP - Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, 30 May 2013
- 2013 Senate Estimates: DIAC - Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, 28 May 2013
- Press Release: Malcolm Fraser reiterates call for Australia to reconsider attendance at CHOGM in Sri Lanka, 26 April 2013
- Blog: Australia's piercing silence on Sri Lanka must end, 28 Feb 2013
- 2013 Senate Estimates: DFAT - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 14 Feb 2013
- Speech: November 27 - Maaveerar Naal, 27 Nov 2012
- Press Conference: Senator Rhiannon, prominent unionists and community leaders joined exiled Sri Lankan journalists to condemn the Coalition’s push to turn back Sri Lankan asylum-seekers without due process , 5 Sept 2012
- Speech: Sri Lanka, 16 Aug 2012
- 2012 Senate Estimates: DFAT - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 30 May 2012
- 2012 Senate Estimates: Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, 22 May 2012
- Speech: Vigil to mark 3 years since the end of the war, 18 May 2012
- Media Release: Australian abducted in Sri Lanka: Greens call on Carr to take quick action, 9 April 2012
- Media Release: Breakthrough at UN Human Rights Council, 23 March 2012
- Motion: Unanimous support for action on Sri Lanka at UN, 21 March 2012
- Media Release: Fresh Channel 4 evidence highlights Australia's week position on war crimes, 14 March 2012
- Speech: Marie Colvin and Sri Lanka and Nobel Peace Prize nomination of 'Sri Lanka's killing fields', 28 Feb 2012
- Media Release: Greens congratulate Tamil youth on action at One Day International, 17 Feb 2012
- 2012 Senate Estimates: DFAT - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 16 Feb 2012
- 2012 Senate Estimates: Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, 14 Feb 2012
- 2012 Senate Estimates: Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, 13 Feb 2012
- 2012 Senate Estimates: AusAid - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 16 Feb 2012
- Question on Notice: Question: Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting visas, 2 Nov 2012
- Speech: War Crimes Investigation, 1 Nov 2011
- Blog: Another refugee suicide: mandatory sentencing must end, 28 Oct 2011
- Event: Time for Action on Sri Lanka's War Crimes, 27 Oct 2011
- Media: Australian human rights record damaged by failure to act on Sri Lankan war crimes, 26 Oct 2011
- Media: PM should raise war crimes tribunal with Sri Lankan President today, 26 Oct 2011
- 2011 Senate Estimates Audio: Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, 18 Oct 2011
- 2011 Senate Estimates: Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, 17 Oct 2011
- Media: Time for Rudd to act on call for Sri Lankan war crimes tribunal, 17 Oct 2011
- Blog: Detention – no place for a one year old, 26 September 2011
- Roundtable: Furthering the call for a war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka, 20 Sept 2011
- Speech in NSW Legislative Council, 13 May 2010
Media coverage of the Sri Lanka campaign
- You can't make the country smart by cutting down on education, SBS Tamil Radio, 1 May 2016
- Aussie Senator urges demilitarization of N-E, UK Tamil News, 2 Dec 2015
- Chief Minister Vigneswaran calls on President - presents issues of Tamil prisoners, News 1st, 12 Nov 2015
- Thirty one persons held under PTA to be released today, News 1st, 10 Nov 2015
- Australian Senator calls for end of Sri Lanka's military occupation of Tamil homeland, Tamil Guardian, 29 Nov 2015
- Australian senator suggests taking Mahinda to the hague for war Crimes, Lankasri News, 18 August 2015
- Australian Politician Suggests Taking Rajapaksa To The Hague, Asian Mirror, 18 August 2015
- ITJP report highlights structural genocide against Tamils under complete impunity says Australian senator, Tamil Guardian, 30 July 2015
- Australian senator remembers Tamils killed by systematic Sri Lankan state brutality, Tamil Guardian, 26 Nov 2015
- Lee's oped: Julie Bishop Betrays Tamil Victims, New Matilda, 24 March 2014
- New Zealand government urged to support resolution on Sri Lanka, ColomboPage, 12 March 2014
- Australia police declined to interview 'tortured' Sri Lankan asylum seeker, The Guardian, 11 March 2014
- Australian senate backs Green Party motion calling for war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka, ColomboPage, 13 Feb 2014
- Lee and Jan Logie's detainment in Sri Lanka on 10 November 2013 was covered my numerous media outlets. Here are some: SBS, SKY, BBC, ABC, The Guardian, New Matilda, The Australian, SMH, Washington Post, Times of India, CTV News (Canada), NZ Media
- Senator to investigate Lankan asylum seekers, SBS, 06 Nov 2013
- Calls for Lanka CHOGM boycott, SBS, 29 April 2013
- UN Expert backs CHOGM boycott, ninemsn, 29 April 2013
- Keep Sri Lanka in the fold, The Australian, 28 April 2013
- 'Hypocritical' government ignoring Sri Lankan abuses: Greens, The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2013
- Fraser leads Sri Lanka CHOGM boycott, Herald Sun, 26 April 2013
- Sri Lanka policy xenophbic - Greens, Sky News, 4 September 2012
- Interview on Sri Lankan news network, News First, 3 August 2012
- Sri Lankan High Commissioner: Blood on his sword, Online Opinion, 23 July 2012
- Call for Sri Lankan envoy's expulsion, Canberra Times, 18 July 2012
- Australia concerned about Sri Lanka disappearances, BBC, 9 April 2012
- Australian Senate focus on Sri Lanka, BBC, 21 March 2012
- Rudd under fire over Sri Lanka report, AAP, 9 Febrauary 2012
- Nobel Peace Prize sought for video on Lanka Killings, Dawn, 4 Feb 2012
- Channel 4 nominate for Peace Prize, The Sunday Leader, 4 Feb 2012
- Immigration edict leaves child humiliated at graduation ceremony, SMH, 9 Dec 2011
- Sri Lanka war crimes, SBS News, 17 Oct 2011
- Australia faces pressure to probe alleged war crimes linked to Sri Lankan envoy, The China Post, 18 Oct 2011
- Australia urged to probe Sri Lanka commissioner, Taipei Times, 18 Oct 2011
- Rudd concedes some nations may boycott CHOGM 2013 in Sri Lanka, ABC PM, 26 Oct 2011
- Fraser backs call to bar Colombo, The Australian, 26 Oct 2011
- Greens call for suspension of Sri Lanka from Commonwealth, The Australian, 20 Sep 2011
- Pressure Mounts for internal investigation, BBC, 20 Sep 2011
Background to the Sri Lanka campaign
In May 2009, after 26 years of failed cease-fires and ongoing civil conflict, the Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan Government declared it had defeated the Tamil Tigers or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after army forces captured the last patch of rebel held territory in the north east of the country. It is estimated that approximately 215,000 people have been killed in the country's civil war, with former Australian UN official in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss, stating that upto 40,000 civilians died in the last few months.
At the end of the war, about 330,000 Tamils were imprisoned in government run internment camps. Allegations of sexual abuse, torture, extra judicial killings and abductions ran rife. As International aid agencies, media and the United Nations had been restricted access to the camps, verifying these allegations at the time were impossible. In May 2009, Britain's C4 was the first independent media to smuggle footage out of these camps. Shocking claims of 'shortages of food and water, dead bodies left where they have fallen, women separated from their families, and sexual abuse were aired.
Many households are now headed by women, who are extremely vulnerable under military rule. Stories of forced colonisation of Tamil areas, rape camps, abduction of Tamils in white vans, violence against journalists, media suppression and sexual abuse by the military continue to grow.
In March 2011 the much-awaited report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka was released. The Panel found credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law was committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Even though report cited evidence of war crimes committed by both sides, it found that most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling of shelling civilians in the 'no-fire zone' and of targeting hospitals.
One of the recommendations of the panel was that the Secretary-General should immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism, whose mandate should include conducting investigations independently into the alleged violations.
On 14th of June 2011 UK's Channel 4 presented an investigation into the final weeks of the quarter-century-long civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the secessionist rebels, the Tamil Tigers. On the 4th of July, a part of it was aired in Australia by 4 Corners.
Sri Lanka's Killing Fields sent shockwaves through the international community. The allegations and the horrific images were impossible to ignore.
In response to this documentary Britain's PM David Cameron said: "The Sri Lankan government does need this to be investigated and the UN needs this to be investigated".
On 7 November 2013, as international leaders readied themselves for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka, Lee and New Zealand Greens MP Jan Logie headed there to discuss human rights, media freedom and the push factors that cause Tamils to seek asylum in Australia. They travelled widely and met a range of people, particularly members of parliament, members of provincial councils, religious leaders and community leaders. Read Lee's diary from the trip here.
There was much controversy surrounding the hosting of CHOGM in Sri Lanka.Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, Mauritius Prime Minister, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, and Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar boycotted the summit in protest of the Rajapakse regime's war crimes.
Australia's response towards the war, CHOGM and continuing atrociities has been to maintain it's silence about the Sri Lankan Government to suit it's domestice policy of 'stopping the boats'.