Unlock the camps

tamil protest2

“Unlock the Camps” has been the call of Sri Lankan Tamils on


I attended in Auckland and Wellington recently.

It is horrendous that 300,000 Tamils are still

detained in camps in northern Sri Lanka

. The response of the world community has been pathetic, given the scale of suffering.

Tamil protest1

Our Government hasn’t done much on the issue since May, when the war ended, if

answers to my

parliamentary questions

are anything to go buy.

In one answer the Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, buys into Sri Lankan government propaganda that ere is an ‘agreed timetable for the safe return of displaced people to their home areas.’


Is the government intending to make submissions to the Sri Lankan government over its refusal to let most of the Tamil people confined to camps in the north of the country return to their home areas; if so, what will be the nature of those submissions?

Answer Text:

The Government has consistently raised concerns about conditions in the camps for internally displaced people in northern Sri Lanka.  Concerns about the plight of civilians caught in the civil war were noted in my press statements of 4 February, 22 April, 1 May, and 26 May. New Zealand expects that the Sri Lankan government will keep to its agreed timetable for the safe return of displaced people to their home areas. We have concerns about the humanitarian situation bilaterally with the Sri Lankan government at appropriate junctures and will continue to do so in meetings of Ministers and at officials level.  New Zealand will also continue make statements on this issue in the UN at appropriate occasions.

Portfolio: Foreign Affairs; Minister: Hon Murray McCully;

There is no such agreement with the Tamils; and there is nothing ‘safe’ about the camps. People are dying in their hundreds, partly because authorities are restricting the work of welfare agencies. Those detained simply want the freedom – granted under international law – to go home when they

want to.