The International Conference in Australia – Accountability in Sri Lanka: Common Justice in the Commonwealth

Dear All, I am sure you are all aware of the events and news that have been developing and unfolding here in Australia over the last few days and about the international conference co-hosted by Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) and Global Tamil Forum (GTF) here in Sydney tomorrow (Thursday, 20 Oct 2011), almost a week before CHOGM in Perth, Australia on 28/10/2011. Please take time to watch: ABC 7.30 Report

President Rajapakshe of Sri Lanka who is, his government and military are alleged to have committed grave human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity, will be attending the CHOGM. In addition to a brief profile mentioned below of the speakers at the conference, I have further attached a summary of some of the few international speaker’s profile. We will make available short video clips for use in your reports via a FTP to download using a unique password that can be obtained by calling the contact numbers given below. 

The Conference – Accountability in Sri Lanka: Common Justice in the Commonwealth will be into 4 sessions:

Session 1: National reconciliation on the basis of Justice and Accountability.   
(Keywords – Lack of accountability, consequences, culture of impunity, reactions and expectations of international community etc)   

Session 2: Recognising identities and democratic rights of the peoples   
(Keywords –  Dissent is not allowed, human rights, freedom of speech, press freedom etc)    

Session 3: International and local institutions and their governance   
(Keywords – Local and international justice system, abuse of constitution, international institution’s role and expectations etc)

Session 4: Progression by learning from the past mistakes    
(Keywords – What after “never again, failure to protect etc)

Key Speakers:

Bruce Haigh – Haigh initiated Australian Embassy contact with members of the black South African resistance, including the Black Consciousness Movement in 1976. Included amongst the friends he made at this time were Steve Biko

Lionel Bopage –  Former General Secretary of the JVP in Sri Lanka who resigned from the party on principle as he disagreed with the Party’s approach to the Tamil issue (from the Sinhala community)

Damien Kingsbury – Professor Damien Kingsbury holds a Personal Chair in the School of International and Political Studies at Deakin University. His research interests include the politics of South-East Asia, particularly Indonesia, East Timor and Sri Lanka Politics; the role of the military in politics; security and terrorism; post-colonial political structures and nation formation; assertions of self-determination and civil and political rights.

Jake Lynch – Associate Professor Jake Lynch, PhD (City University, London) is Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney, an Executive Member of the Sydney Peace Foundation and newly elected Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association, having hosted its Sydney conference in July 2010. Jake has spent the past 13 years researching, developing, teaching and training in peace journalism – and practising it, as an experienced international reporter in television and newspapers. He was an on-air presenter, anchoring over a thousand half-hour news bulletins for BBC World TV. Before that, he was the Sydney Correspondent for the London Independent newspaper, and a Political Correspondent for Sky News.

Graham Thom – Dr Graham Thom has been Amnesty International Australia’s Refugee Coordinator since 2000, working on behalf of individual asylum seekers as well as on broader human rights issues relating to refugees. Dr Thom publishes and lectures on domestic and international refugee issues and has represented Amnesty International at UNHCR’s Annual Tripartite Consultation on Resettlement in Geneva for the past three years. He completed his doctoral thesis on post-war migration at the University of Sydney in 2000.

Peter Arndt – Executive Officer of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane and a Mission Development Officer for the Archdiocese. Peter has many years experience in community grassroots advocacy and activism and in Church social justice action.  His principal areas of interest are reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice, refugee and asylum seeker rights, industrial relations, human rights in West Papua, and ecological sustainability.

Rev. John Barr – The Rev. John Barr has had a distinguished and varied career. John originally trained as an electrician then earned his BA Hons in Social Anthropology and MA in Religious Studies from Sydney University. He was ordained to the Uniting Church in Australia in 1992 and trained at the United Theological College. He has served in West Timor as a mission co-worker and taught at the Christian University in Kupang. Upon his return to Australia, John served as a Uniting Church Minister in the Parish of Armidale and was University Chaplain for the University of New England. In 1996 he was transferred to the National Assembly to work as Secretary for People in Mission. In 1999 he was appointed as Indonesia Secretary for Uniting International Mission and in 2002 commenced work as the Associate Director for Church Solidarity Asia, which includes responsibility for 17 partnerships in the Asia region.

Prof. Suriyanarayanan of India – Amongst many achievements in his personal and professional life, most notable was that he was was a member of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India during 2008-2010 

Sisa Njikelana MP -ANC (Republic of South Africa) – Member of Parliament (African National Congress) of Republic of South Africa from 2004 to date. Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Energy. Deputy Chairperson of the Permanent Committee on Agriculture, Rural Economy, Natural Resources and Environment in the Pan African Parliament from 2009 to 2011.

Abdul Kader – Former General Secretary of Teacher’s Union and General Secretary of Malayaka Thamilar Munnanni in SL. He was also one of the first people to be arrested under the PTA just after Kutty Mani etc. (from the Muslim community)

Prof Dr Aluwihara –  (Former Vice Chancellor of Peradeniya University. His father Aluwihare resigned from the Banadaranayake’s SLFP government when the Sinhala ONLY law was introduced in protest – Such an irony that Rajapakshe’s father crossed over from the UNP to SLFP in support of the law –  (from the Sinhala community)

John Dowd QC – The former Supreme Court Judge who filed action with the Federal Police here in Australia against the Sri Lankan High Commissioner former Admiral T. Samarasinghe, President Rajapakshe and the former Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohana

Ms. Meena Krishnamoorthy – The eye witness from the ‘no fire zone’ who appeared on the recent ABC 7.30 Report Programme
Prof. Ivan Shearer – Representative of Australia in the IIGEP, which worked and withdrew abruptly from SL

Saravanabawan MP (TNA) of Sri Lanka (Tamil Community)

Manogaran MP of Malaysia – Tamil MP who recently visited Vanni to see for himself the suffering without disclosing that he was a Malaysian MP

Johari Abdul MP of Malaysia – MP from the Muslim community 

Senthorun (Sen) Raj (NSW President of Amnesty International Australia)

Arumugam (HR Activist – Malaysia)

Senator Ramakrisnan of Malaysia – Tamil MP who recently visited Vanni to see for himself the suffering without disclosing that he was a Malaysian MP 
Around 8 or 9 Australian Parliamentarians from the 3 main parties will also attend the event. The HR Commission Chairman (Govt Party) and the Deputy Chairman (Opposition Party) and some former Ministers are amongst these MPs.

For further information and interviews please contact:

+61 402123967 – Dr Sam Pari
+61 418539815 – Rev.Dr. S.J.Emmanuel
+61 467667880 – Suren Surendiran
+61 408100182 – Prakash Rajasunderam

Please note that there will be a press briefing at midday tomorrow at the conference venue: Sheraton on the Park, 161 Elizabeth St, Sydney
siti Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia. He is also an associate member of The Chartered Institute of Management Accountant, UK.

Speakers’ Profiles

Vidya Jothi Professor (Dr) A.P.R.Aluwihare
Former Vice Chancellor of Peradeniya, Chairman of the University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka (1989-93), member of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (1997-2000), and member of the Regional and Global Advisory Committee of Health Research of the WHO (1992-2000). Chairman of the Board of Study in Surgery of the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine in Colombo (1995 to 2004).  He is a member of a civil society group – the Friday Forum. The author, a National of Sri Lanka, is now Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the University of Peradeniya. Born in 1939 and marrying in 1966, he has four children.

His postgraduate work was done in Sri Lanka and England with the FRCS in 1966, and the M.Chir (Cambridge) in 1970 at the Royal College of Surgeons of London and St. Marks Hospital. He has concurrently held many medical and then surgical posts in Sri Lanka, England, Kuwait and many visits to hospitals in over 25 countries.

The Sri Lanka Government honored him in 1998 with the Title Vidya Jothi for outstanding contributions to Science.

Note: His father Aluwihare resigned in protest from the Banadaranayake’s SLFP government when the Sinhala ONLY law was introduced – Such an irony that Rajapakshe’s father crossed over from the UNP to SLFP in support of the law – (from the Sinhala community)


Mr Sisa Njikelana,  a Member of Parliament (African National Congress) of Republic of South Africa from 2004 to date. Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Energy. Deputy Chairperson of the Permanent Committee on Agriculture, Rural Economy, Natural Resources and Environment in the Pan African Parliament from 2009 to 2011.

He was a member of the Task Team for Parliament’s Policy on International Relations in 2006. He has been part of the Parliamentary Group on International Relations from 2008 to 2011. He is part of the ANC NEC  Sub-Committee for International Relations from 2008 and Economic Transformation Cluster from 2008

Mr Sisa Njikelana was educated in the Eastern Cape and later at Ruskin College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Sisa joined the ANC underground in 1980, was mainly involved in trade unions. He went through two treason trials 1982 as well as in 1985-86 (United Democratic Front [UDF] Treason Trial in Pietermaritzburg).  He was detained more than 10 times from 1980 until 1985.  

He is the Chairperson of the Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka since 2007.

Mr. Bawa Abdul Kader
Former elected Deputy Chairman of the Ceylon Teachers Union which was one of the most radical unions in Sri Lanka. It represented teachers who belonged to all three communities – Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims – though majority of its membership was constituted by Sinhalese teachers.

Mr. Kader was single-handedly responsible for campaigning and pushing for a resolution in the National Annual Conference of the CTU in 1977 to recognize the right to self-determination of the Tamil people. The CTU was the first organisation in the South to accept the principle of the right to self determination for the Tamils. This action of the CTU proved to be a turning point as several left parties and trade unions followed our example thereafter.

To enhance awareness amongst the plantation Tamil youths to take up their cause themselves and fight for their nationality rights, which were denied to them, he brought together several radical plantation Tamil youths to form an organisation in 1977 called the “Up-country Mass Movement” (UMM)  and personally pushed through a serious political campaign that was to have lasting impact on the Up-country Tamil politics thereafter.  I was unanimously elected as the General Secretary of the organisation until he was arrested in 1984 and subjected to severe tortures. In prisons he met over 6000 Tamil political prisoners and I was chosen as their spokesman.

Subsequently, he was indicted and on 14 November 1986 I was sentenced to twenty years of rigorous imprisonment. Incidentally he was the first prisoner of conscience to receive the longest term of imprisonment sentence in Sri Lanka. During my incarceration the Amnesty International campaigned for my release. However, he was released on amnesty under Indo-Lanka Peace Accord on 09 December 1988 after 4 years behind bars.

From 1989 to 1999 he served as the elected Secretary General of the Up-country People’s Front (UPF) and as the General Secretary of the “Up-country Workers Front” (the third largest trade union in the plantation sector). Currently living in the UK and working as a journalist.

Dato’ Johari Abdul
This is a Malay name; the name Abdul is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by the given name, Johari.

Dato Johari Abdul is a Malaysian politician and is currently the Member of the Parliament of Malaysia for the Sungai Petani constituency inKedah, Malaysia. He is a member of the People’s Justice Party (PKR) in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

Johari was elected to the Sungai Petani seat in the 2008 election, defeating Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. He was previously a director of the National Civics Bureau.[3] He has a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from theUniversity of Lancaster.

Mr. Manogaran
Prominent Malaysian lawyer and currently the State Assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah in the Selangor State Assembly. He is a member of the Democratic Action Party. Manogaran is a member of the Democratic Action Party (DAP). In the 1999 general elections, Manogaran was the DAP candidate for theSegambut Constituency. Manogaran lost to the Barisan Nasional candidate Tan Kee Kwong with 16,340 votes opposed to Tan’s 24,926 votes.

Manogaran is more famous for his involvement in the HINDRAF movement. He was the lawyer that represented M. Moorthy’s widow, Kaliammal Sinnasamy in a legal tussle over the late Everest conqueror’s body. Manogaran.

In the 2008 general elections, Manogaran, represented the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and won the state seat getting twice as many votes as the ethnic Chinese candidate, in a seat dominated by ethnic Chinese voters.  M Manogaran obtained 12,699 votes to win with a 7,184-vote majority the Kota Alam Shah state seat. 

The news of his victory was one of the surprising ones in the 2008 elections as he is being detained under the Internal Security Act without trial after organising anti-discrimination protests. Manogaran is only the third person to have won an election while under ISA detention.

On the 9th of May 2009, Manogaran, along with P. Uthayakumar and K. Vasantha Kumar were released from ISA detention at about 2.30. Manogaran was arrested under the Internal Security Act on 13 December 2007.[8] Karpal Singh and M. Kulasegaran, two Democratic Action Party (DAP) Members of Parliaments filed an application to free Manogaran, but it was struck out by the presiding judge because the photocopy of the detention order served to Manogaran was not certified

Mr. Ramakrishnan
Ramakrishnan was the Chairman of Plantation, Mining Workers and Estate Community of DAP Selangor since 2003. He started Youth Motivational and Self Awareness programmes since 2007.

Ramakrishnan also conducted English language classes in Tamil schools since 2005.

From 2008, Ramakrishnan has conducted various youth programmes in Taman Medan, Desa Mentari and Klang. He is a committee member of the society for inner resources development, Malaysia Internationally, Ramakrishnan has presented research papers in finance in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Australia and other countries.

Currently, he is working on a research paper on the performance of the local government in Selangor and current focus of interest is accountability in public services and government accounting.

An accountant by training, Ramakrishnan lectures at the Metropolitan College, Subang Jaya, Selangor. Ramakrishnan has a Masters in Business Administration from Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia. He is also an associate member of The Chartered Institute of Management Accountant, UK.

Mr. Senthorun Raj
Senthorun (Sen) Raj works as the Senior Policy Advisor for the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, an organisation that advocates on behalf of gay men, lesbians and their families.  In a governance capacity, Sen serves as the NSW President of Amnesty International Australia and a Director of ACON Health. Sen writes regularly for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Punch and New Matilda on matters relating to sexuality and politics. He also works as a research associate with the UTS Faculty of Law, and his thesis on sexuality and refugee law was awarded the University of Sydney Medal. Senthorun has published widely on issues relating to sexuality, gender and the law; refugees; intimacy and citizenship; popular culture; and human rights

Prof. V. Suryanarayan
Prof. V. Suryanarayan is one of India’s leading specialists in South and Southeast Asian Studies and combines in his teaching and research specialization in History, Political Science and International Relations. Educated in Ernakulam, Bombay and New Delhi, he has taught in the affiliated colleges of Bombay University; Indian School of International Studies, New Delhi; Marathwada University, Aurangabad and North Eastern Hill University, Shillong. For more than two decades, he was associated with the Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras first as the founding Director and later as Senior Professor.

Prof. V. Suryanarayan was associated with the University Grants Commission for several years. He was a member of the UGC Advisory Committee on Area Studies and was a member of UGC evaluation teams to several Universities.

Prof. Suryanarayan was Visiting Professor in the University of California, Los Angeles; Columbus College, University System of Georgia; Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka; Sri Venkateshwara University, Tirupati and School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was the first Professor for Maritime Studies and Research, Calicut University during 2004-05. The Chair for Maritime Studies was instituted by the Naval Head Quarters, New Delhi, the only one of its kind in the Indian University system. He is associated with the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai in its guest faculty. He was until very recently Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Asia Studies, Chennai..

A much sought after speaker, Prof. Suryanarayan is a regular speaker in the National Defence College, New Delhi. He has also spoken in the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and Army War College, Mhow. Prof. Suryanarayan was a member of the International Observer Team that monitored the Presidential Election in Sri Lanka in December 1999. Prof. Suryanarayan was a member of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India during 2008-2010