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November 7, 2009

Refugee groups reject Sri Lankan government allegations against “Alex”

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release
November 7
Refugee groups have condemned the statements from the Sri Lankan government alleging that Alex is a people smuggler. “It is the Sri Lankan government and the Australian government that are on trial, not Alex,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“These statements make it even more imperative that the Australian government bring the Tamils to Australia. How many others on the boat have the Sri Lankan government attempted to identify with the risk that their families in Sri Lanka will face further persecution.

“The Sri Lankan government is trying to hide its shocking record of human rights abuses. It is the Sri Lankan government that has to answer for the abuse of the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka. It is the Australian government’s Indonesian solution that is on trial,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition

“Alex is only guilty of fighting for the rights of the250 Tamil asylum seekers on the boat at Merak. Alex should be praised for that. Whether he did or did not grow up in Canada has nothing to do with the human rights abuses in Sri Lanka today or his claim, or the claims of the 250 in Merak, for refugee status.

“The Sri Lankan government is attempting to intimidate Alex by publicly saying they know who he is. The Australian government must make to clear they hold the Sri Lankan government responsible for the safety of any members of his family in Sri Lanka.

“The Australian government should be sending a strong message to the Sri Lankan government by bringing the Tamil asylum seekers at Merak and those on the Oceaninc Viking to Australia. Unless the Australian government delegate John McCarthy raises the human rights abuses with the Sri Lankan president, the Australian government will be complicit in the on-going abuse of Tamils in Sri Lanka. There are over 250,000 Tamils in internment camps in Sri Lanka.

“Alex has made it clear that all the 250 people are more than willing to put their refugee claims before the UNHCR or the Australian authorities. The Australian government should be insisting that the UNHCR be allowed access to the asylum seekers and begin to process their claims.”

A rally to demand that the Tamils asylum seekers in Indonesia be brought to Australia will be held on Monday 9 November, 12.30pm, Immigration Department, Lee St, Sydney. A phone link with Alex will allow him to speak to the protest.

For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition: Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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