Page 5755 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

I only have a limited understanding of a lot of the work they do but I will just say that from what I saw good things seem to be happening there. I had the opportunity to sit a test. I asked that she keep it nice and easy. She did and I was able to complete it. But the other thing that struck me about it actually was the kids. Despite there being many kids in a room, they were far quieter than my kids. So I was very impressed with their ability to keep kids from making lots of noise.

I would just like to pay tribute to Jane and to Llois. Jane particularly did a great job of making all of the students feel very honoured and very special. I would like to pay tribute to the wonderful work that she is doing. (Time expired.)

Human rights—Sri Lanka

MS BRESNAN: On 18 November I hosted the launch of the book Rebellion, Repression and the Struggle for Justice in Sri Lanka—The Lionel Bopage Story, which was written by Michael Cooke. The biography looks at the post-independence history of Sri Lanka from 1948 on through the eyes of one of its most prominent left-wing activists, Lionel Bopage. The book looks at Lionel’s life, in which he has experienced imprisonment, torture and insurrection which left between 5,000 and 10,000 people dead, communal violence and Lionel’s resignation from the post of general secretary of a major left-wing party.

He and his family were forced into exile in the late 1980s. They now live in Australia. The biography discusses their life in Australia and Lionel’s attempts to reconcile members of the Tamil and Sinhalese communities here in Australia. The book also puts the current issue of war crimes in an historical context. The covering up of atrocities and the killing and jailing of dissidents have been constant features of the country’s modern history. Despite the violence and the suffering, Lionel attests to an unconquerable hope that he and those like him might bring people together, redressing communal grievances and bringing about genuine power sharing in Sri Lanka.

On 1 November I also met with a member of the Sri Lankan parliament, Siritunga Jayasuriya, who, as well as being a member of parliament, has been involved with human rights and trade unions for over 40 years. He noted the seriousness of human rights as an issue in Sri Lanka across the whole of the country and issues occurring around media censorship and intimidation there.

I think both Lionel’s story and Mr Jayasuriya’s comments, after speaking with him, highlight, again, the seriousness of the situation in Sri Lanka. It is something that the whole world needs to be mindful of and watch and, with various international meetings about to come up in Sri Lanka, I think it highlights more precisely how serious the situation is. Commonwealth countries, in particular, need to take note of what is happening, lobby for change in Sri Lanka and also support people living in Australia—Tamil and Sinhalese communities—who are fighting for justice in Sri Lanka also.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video