The Australian government is being urged to end military aid to Sri Lanka and recognise the dire human rights situation faced by Tamils in that country.
Rallies to press the Morrison government to change Australia’s long-standing policy towards the South Asian country were held in Melbourne and Sydney on Sunday
Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam says the protests mark the 12th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal massacre in which up to 40,000 Tamil civilians are believed to have been killed at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009.
He says Australian governments have continued to provide aid to the Sri Lankan military and police despite their human rights abuses against Tamil citizens.
Five drones were provided to police on the island to monitor outgoing asylum seeker boats last month.
“They will be used to target Tamils and Muslims and human rights activists who may flee the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka since the return of the Rajapaksa regime,” Mr Mylvaganam told AAP.
He said people were fleeing the country on boats because of the impact of previous Australian government security aid to Sri Lankan police.
In 2009, Australian Federal Police helped install security cameras in Sri Lankan airports which allowed local authorities to intercept asylum seekers trying to escape by air, Mr Mylvaganam said.
“This support for the Sri Lankan government eventually put Tamil and Muslim lives at risk.”
The rallies will also urge the Australian government to recognise the deteriorating human rights situation for Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka.
Mr Mylvaganam says recognition will help end deportations of those who escape to Australia.
He said stricter immigration assessment rules brought in by the previous Gillard Labor government had resulted in more than 1000 Tamils being sent back without their asylum claims being assessed.
Over the past three years, he said, nine out of 10 Tamils have had their asylum applications rejected in Australia.
A Tamil family of four who were living in the Queensland town of Biloela have been in detention on Christmas Island since August 2019 when an urgent injunction stopped their deportation mid-flight.
“Priya and Nades, and their two children, continue to be in detention for the last three years because of the Australian government’s refusal to acknowledge the dangerous situation Tamils face in Sri Lanka,” Mr Mylvaganam said.