Possible Abuse of Sydney University Resources for Political Purposes
Posted on August 14th, 2009

G. de Silva

Dr. Michael Spence,
Vice Chancellor,
University of Sydney.

 Dear Dr. Spence,

 I am writing this email to bring to your attention of, what appears to be, an abuse of Sydney University resources to promote certain political agendas by some of your staff.

 You may be aware that the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) of University of Sydney is co-hosting a conference titled Human Rights in Sri Lanka and Australia’s Role. A copy of the flyer is attached for your information.

 While I was proud to hear that Australian academics are taking a keen interest in Sri Lanka and working towards conflict resolution in that country, further information I gathered about this conference made me very suspicious of the agenda of the principal sponsor of this seminar, Dr. Sam Pari attached to the CPACS.

 I found out that Dr. Sam Pari, happens to be a well regarded “ƒ”¹…”Tamil Protest Organiser’ (http://www.abc.net.au/news/audio/2009/04/15/2543203.htm) who has publicly spoken in support of the renowned terrorist group, Tamil Tigers.

 While I respect Dr. Pari’s personal political views and allegiances, the list of keynote speakers made me feel that this seminar perhaps has nothing to do with conflict resolution in Sri Lanka but geared towards even further polarizing the ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. For example, it is no secret that, at least, Dr. Whitehall and Mr. Haigh are ardent Tamil Tiger sympathizers who have publicly made statements in support of Tamil Tigers.

 What is further disturbing is the fact that not a single person who holds an opposing view is included in the discussion panel.

I also understand that, Mr. Don Mahindapala, former Chief Editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper, The Sunday Observer, has offered to participate in this forum but his offer has been rejected by the organizers. (http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2009/08/sydney-university-lynches-truth-and.html). I understand that even other Sri Lankan community leaders’ offers to participate in the forum have been turned down. I have attached a copy of one such offer by Mr. Chanaka Bandarage, a well respected Sri Lankan Barrister in Canberra.

It is clear that the organizer, Dr. Pari, has consistently refused participation of community leaders who are not sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers and their racist cause to carve up a mono-ethnic state in Sri Lanka.

As such the attendees of this conference will only hear one, and only one view “”…” the view of Tamil Tigers and their sympathizers. Given this fact, I am perplexed to see how this conference can achieve any outcome that will help resolve the conflict in Sri Lanka. A guaranteed outcome, however, will be to drive a wedge between already polarized communities in Sri Lanka, help resurrect the Tamil Tiger militancy in Sri Lanka, cause disharmony between the two communities living in Australia “”…” all at the expense of ordinary Australian tax payers of this country “”…” including you and me.

Dr. Spence, over the years, the Sydney University has earned the respect of people all over the world, not just in Australia. That respect was not thrust upon the University, but was hard earned by the brilliant students and staff over years due to their dedication to “ƒ”¹…”responsibility to service through leadership in the community’, which is one of stated core values of this great institution. Surely, a program funded and supported by this very University which is designed to promote a one sided view of a conflict will go against the grain of the values cherished by your organization? How such a program can be even conceptualized by a unit which calls themselves a “ƒ”¹…”Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies’ will be a grave concern to all Australians.

Dr. Spence, all people of Sri Lankan origin living in Australia would love to see Australia’s active involvement in Sri Lanka to resolve conflict and rebuild the nation which was devastated due to a 30 year war waged by the Tamil Tigers and which led to the death of over one hundred thousand people “”…” mostly, innocent civilians of all ethnicities. However, I am sure you will agree, that such an involvement MUST promote healthy discussion of views and opinions held by both sides to the conflict “”…” anything else will be clearly seen as mere “ƒ”¹…”Sydney University funded’ propaganda  by all citizens of this country and in the world, not just by people of Sri Lankan origin.

As you know, the Internet is already carrying numerous controversial articles on this proposed conference and highlighting the alleged abuse of Sydney University resources for the promotion of Tamil Tiger propaganda.

I believe there is still time to rectify this grave mistake and make this conference a productive one by inclusion of one or two speakers having somewhat different views to the listed speakers to provide a balanced view of the situation in Sri Lanka. This, no doubt, will be of immense value towards helping Sri Lanka resolve this lengthy conflict while enabling the Sydney University to maintain its integrity, impartiality and its leadership in helping people of Sri Lanka “”…” in keeping with the vision statement,  “ƒ”¹…”The University has an impact on the lives of those who never enter its classrooms or laboratories as academics or students’.

I sincerely hope that you would not hesitate to take prompt action towards this noble objective.

 Thank You.

 G. de Silva
Cc : Sydney University Executive Staff

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