Page 3282 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 18 August 2009

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I commend the Vietnam veterans to everyone in the chamber, who I am sure would agree with my sentiment. Vietnam veterans, on your special day we salute you.

Sri Lankan refugees

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (6.04): Today I would like to congratulate two young men from Sydney, Seran and Vishna, for their courage and commitment in walking from Sydney to Canberra to highlight the plight of 300,000 refugees in Sri Lanka living in appalling conditions in camps in that country. I met Seran and Vishna and both of these young men’s parents this morning. Both of them have been personally affected by the conflict in Sri Lanka and now there is the terrible situation of the treatment of refugees in the camps. These refugees are internally displaced persons, people who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of armed conflict and violations of human rights.

International law states that the government concerned holds the responsibility for providing assistance and protection during displacement and during resettlement. All governments around the world should be supporting the calls from groups such as Amnesty International to immediately allow the people in these camps freedom of movement and for those who wish to leave to be allowed to do so. The camps should be placed under civilian management and not under the management of the military. Aid agencies, journalists and human rights observers should be given full access to the camps. There should also be a commitment to the closure of the camps.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has spoken out against the conditions which these refugees now find themselves in. In this situation, we are talking about innocent people with ordinary lives who have been caught in a conflict and are now existing in unliveable conditions. These people should be given all the assistance they need to be able to return to their homes. They should be able to do this without fear of being treated inhumanely either in the camp or when they return home.

I applaud Seran and Vishna for what they have done. In bringing attention to the situation in Sri Lanka, their actions speak louder than words. The 300 kilometres they have walked represents the 300,000 lives they want to highlight the plight of. The world should be doing all it can to save these 300,000 lives by urging the Sri Lankan government to abide by democratic and humanitarian obligations and resettle the people displaced by the conflict in Sri Lanka.

Ms Lydia Almeria Pattugalan

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (6.07): During the recent winter break of the Assembly, on Saturday, 18 July, I attended a mass of thanksgiving and celebration for the life of Lydia Almeria Pattugalan at St Michael’s church in Kaleen. Lydia was the mother and mother-in-law of friends of our family. It was felt by many within the Filipino community that Lydia was also a spiritual mother of the Filipino community in Canberra. As testified to by the large gathering of her immediate family and the Canberra community, we were there to celebrate her life.

Lydia Pattugalan was born in Manila in the Philippines on 4 December 1927. She arrived in Australia in May 1972 with her husband, Maximo Pattugalan, who took up

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