Murder of unarmed man confirms Sri Lanka still not safe for Tamils

The murder of Yogarasa Thines at the hands of Sri Lankan police on 9 July shows that Tamils are still not safe in their country, says the Tamil Refugee Council.

Thines, aged in his 20s, was shot several times by officers in Vadamaradchi East, in the Jaffna district of the country’s Northern Province, which is majority Tamil. He reportedly had been hitchhiking home from a Hindu temple.

Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who visited Australia in February, has urged Tamils seeking asylum here to return. “All is forgiven,” he said. “They are welcome to return to Sri Lanka and we won't prosecute them.”

But this latest act of violence against an unarmed Tamil is more confirmation that the Sri Lankan regime cannot be trusted.

Thines’ death follows the gunning down by police of two Jaffna University students in October. In December, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment noted the lack of even “minimal guarantees of protection against the power of the State, in particular its security forces”.

“Torture and ill-treatment, including of a sexual nature, still occur, in particular in the early stages of arrest and interrogation, often for the purpose of eliciting confessions”, he wrote.

Despite the well-documented dangers facing Tamils in Sri Lanka, many Tamil asylum seekers continue to languish in Australian detention centres and are threatened with deportation.

The Tamil Refugee Council is calling on the Australian government to release all Tamil asylum seekers currently held in Australian detention centres, grant permanent protection visas to all Tamil asylum seekers and end collaboration with the Sri Lankan regime.

Source: Tamil Refugee Council