Torture

INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA

SRI LANKA’S WEAPON OF  WAR: TORTURE

“The Sri Lanka authorities torture so that Sri Lanka may succeed in its efforts to conquer the Tamil homeland and impose its alien Sinhala rule on the Tamil people – a Tamil people, who by their free vote at the General Elections in 1977 had given a clear mandate for the establishment of an independent Tamil Eelam – a Tamil people who speak a language different to that of the Sinhala people; who trace their origins to  roots different to that of the Sinhala people; and who by their suffering and sacrifice  have given expression to their will to be free from rule by a permanent Sinhala majority within the confines of  an unitary Sri Lankan constitutional structure. The short point that emerges from the 30 year proven record of torture by the Sri Lanka authorities is that Sri Lanka cannot impose its rule on the Tamil homeland without recourse to terror. If it could, it would have.”

உண்மைகள் ஒருபோதும் உறங்குவதில்லை,
உறங்கவும் கூடா…
Truth never sleeps – and it should not….

Torture widespread in Sri Lanka – United Nations Special Rapporteur, 30 October 2007
Prevention of torture in Sri Lanka as addressed at the 35th Session of the UN Committee Against Torture, November 2005
Systematic and widespread police torture in Sri Lanka  says Asian Legal Resource Centre, October 2005
Tamil Youth tortured in Jaffna police station, August 2004
Tamil Escapee details 18-year detention, torture in STF camp, April  2004
Endemic torture and the collapse of policing in Sri Lanka’ says Asian Legal resource Center,   March 2004

“The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) has today released its second special report on torture by the police in Sri Lanka.  Entitled ‘Endemic torture and the collapse of policing in Sri Lanka’, the 100-page report is published in the latest edition of article 2 (February 2004, vol. 3, no. 1).

 “What we are emphasising in this second report is that the gruesome torture still being practiced in police stations across Sri Lanka indicates the almost total breakdown in policing in the country,” remarks Basil Fernando, Executive Director of ALRC. “To describe policing in Sri Lanka as being in crisis would be to understate the current situation; it is nearing collapse,” continues Fernando. “That an officer who has forced a TB sufferer to spit into the mouth of another detainee can continue in service despite widespread knowledge of what he has done speaks to an organisational disaster, and its utter degradation in the eyes of the public.”  The report describes 31 recent cases of torture or killing by the police of 29 police stations in Sri Lanka, involving 46 victims, all of whom appear to have been innocents.”

Torture reports persist as Sri Lankan forces escape justice says UN Human Rights Committee – November 2003

“The committee remains concerned at persistent reports of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees by law enforcement officials and members of the armed forces,” the UN Human Rights Committee said in its report on Sri LankaIt found that “very few” police or army officers had been punished on charges of abduction or torture since the ceasefire last year and urged authorities to promptly investigate allegations of crime against the army or police.”

Sri Lanka Army, Police torture Balasingham Daiyaniharan –  hung by feet and beaten, October 2003
Mutur Tamil youths complain of torture by Navy soldiers, June 2003
Sri Lanka Special Task Force violates ceasefire & tortures Yogarajah Kanthakumar, May 2003
Sri Lanka justice system  conducive to torturers – Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) at  59th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, April 2003
‘Torture continues despite laws’ June 2002

“…Almost in every household in the Trincomalee district there would be a complaint of disappearance. Torture still continues in the island…” “Freedom from torture is a universal and fundamental human right for all and guaranteed under national and international laws. But acts of torture are committed against men, women and children every day.”

‘Torture will persist unless  draconian provisions of  Emergency Regulations and Prevention of Terrorism Act  are removed ‘ – UN International Day – Victims of Torture in Trincomalee, June 2001
Special Task Force tortures Ponnappapillai Sivanesan in Mannar, June 2001
Tamil people denied fundamental right of freedom from torture for more than 25 years, May 2001
Tortured Jaffna youth petitions Supreme Court, May 2001

The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on Wednesday granted leave to proceed on a fundamental rights petition filed by a Jaffna youth who is being held in the Boosa prison, south of Colombo.

The youth, Selvarajah Thamilchelvan of Pattarakalli koviladi, Thavadi South, Kokuvil, Jaffna states in his petition that he was hung upside down and severely tortured while in the custody of the Terrorism Investigation Division of the Police.Thamilchelvan said that TID officers repeatedly burnt his hands with cigarettes and covered his head with a plastic bag soaked in petrol while he was beaten with wires and poles. The medico-legal report on Thamilchelvan states there are seven scars on his body, two of which are 14 cm 16 cm long and two 10 cm long.

Government attitudes contribute to rape & torture -Sampanthan, April 2001

“It would be pertinent to raise the question as to whether pugnacious statements made by persons in high positions and the expressed determination of the Government to continue with the war, contributes towards the unleashing of brutality such as rape and torture on unarmed Tamil civilians particularly Tamil females. It would appear that some service personnel think that if a Tamil is implicated even falsely with the LTTE any crime can be committed against such Tamil person”

Torture of a Tamil Girl from Kayts, March 2001

“Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court this week granted leave to proceed with the fundamental rights petition of a Tamil girl from Kayts in Jaffna who says Policemen tortured her in detention by repeatedly inserting a plantain flower soaked in chilli powder into her vagina. The girl who is currently being held in the Negombo remand prison states in her petition to the Supreme Court that she was hung on a pole inserted between her thighs and arms which had been tied together below the knee and that her body was made to swing in that position; that she was hung from the roof and battered with a cudgel; that Policemen tortured her by pricking under her finger and toe nails with paper pins until she bled; that she was mercilessly assaulted with poles and wires and trampled with boots. The girl also states in her petition that although she had appealed to the Human Rights Commission and the Presidential Committee on Unlawful Arrests and Harassment, they had not taken any action regarding her predicament…”

Torture of Mariyathas Mary Sharmila and Shanmugam Sharmila, December 2000
Amnesty International Reports on Continuing Torture, July 2000

“Far from complying with its obligations under international human rights law, however, the Sri Lankan government has instead further eroded the human rights guaranteed in international human rights treaties with the emergency regulations promulgated on 3 May 2000 and their subsequent amendments. … Since the introduction of the new emergency regulations, there has been an increase in the number of reports of torture. In addition, the methods of the torture reported appear to have become more severe than before and there have been at least two reports of detainees dying in custody as a result of torture…”

Amnesty International issued yet another Urgent Action appeal on Torture, June 2000

“Amirthalingam Amuthini may have been tortured in police custody, and remains in serious danger. She was arrested by police officers of the Security Co-ordinating Unit (SCU) in Vavuniya on 30 May, who took her from her home in Shanthasolai to the SCU office in Vavuniya town. The SCU is a police unit involved in interrogating suspected members of the armed opposition group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Her mother, aged 65, has been allowed to visit her once, but they were not allowed to speak. Amirthalingam Amuthini reportedly had injuries to her right hand, and could not lift her arm. “

Torture of Yogalingam Vijitha – Supreme Court Finding, June 2000

“…By way of conclusion, the Assistant Judicial Medical Officer found that:
a. There is positive medical evidence of vaginal penetration.
b. There is positive evidence of pelvic sepsis with endometriosis.
c. She has many scars on her limbs and torso.
d. She has features of post traumatic disorder.
a. Vaginal penetration by the insertion of plantain flower is possible.
b. Pelvic sepsis with endometriosis could have followed by the insertion of the plantain flower as conclusively suggested by the Consultant Radiologist. The frequency of urination and irregular menstrual period could have been the result of the physical, psychological and sexual violence that she underwent while in custody.
c. The symptoms of post traumatic disorder and depression could have resulted from physical and mental trauma that she underwent while in custody.
d. The causation of the original injuries and resultant scars could have been sustained in the manner described in the history given by the prisoner.

The medical opinion, in my view, amply corroborates the petitioner’s version in regard to the injuries caused and their causation. As Athukorala J in Sudath Silva Vs. Kodituwakku 1987 2 SLR 119 observed, “the facts of this case has revealed disturbing features regarding third degree methods adopted by certain Police Officers on suspects held in police custody. Such methods can only be described as barbaric, savage and inhuman. They are most revolting and offends one’s sense of human decency and dignity, particularly at the present time when every endeavor is being made to promote and protect human rights”.

Tamil detainees sexually abused & tortured by Sri Lanka authorities says study in British Medical Journal, Lancet, June 2000

“…Of the 184 men, 38 (21%) said they had been sexually abused during their detention. Three (7%) of the 38 said they had been given electric shocks to their genitals, 26 (68%) had been assaulted on their genitals, and four (9%) had sticks pushed through the anus, usually with chillies rubbed on the stick first. One said he had been forced to masturbate a soldier manually, three had been made to masturbate soldiers orally, and one had been forced with his friends to rape each other in front of soldiers for their “entertainment”…”

Amnesty Urgent Action Appeal against Torture, June 2000

“Amnesty International issued a new urgent action appeal on 8 June 2000 [AI Index: ASA 37/15/00] on torture and extra judicial killing by the Sri Lanka authorities. The text of the appeal was as follows: Sinnathamby Pradeepan – Poopalaratnam Arulramesh – Gunasekaran Sathiyaseelan – Samithamby Eswaran – Ganesh Chandrakanthan (killed) Police have arrested five young men on suspicion of involvement with the armed opposition group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). One is known to have died in custody, and the others are believed to have been severely tortured….  Background: Torture has been widespread in Sri Lanka for many years. Amnesty International has obtained many testimonies of torture, corroborated by medical certificates. Many of the recent reports of torture are linked to the conflict between the security forces and the LTTE…”

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture says torture is committed with impunity in Sri Lanka, April 2000

“In April, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture expressed concern over continuing torture in Sri Lanka. The Rapporteur says that persons arrested on suspicion of being a member of the LTTE are being tortured and unauthorised places of detention, specially in Jaffna and Vavuniya, continue to be used. Prisoners held here are allegedly beaten, administered electric shocks, have petrol poured on their back and lit and are bitten by dogs on their private parts. The Rapporteur further says torture is committed with impunity and despite the enactment of the Torture Act in 1995, no one has been convicted.”

Amnesty appeals yet again on torture by Sri Lanka authorities, September 1999

“Sri Ram, student Anthonipillai Binoth Vimalraj, Sivagnanasunderam Sri Kanthan (28) – The three young Tamil men named above have been severely tortured in police custody in the capital, Colombo. All three may be in urgent need of medical attention.

Sri Ram has been severely assaulted by police at Mirihana police station. A final year student at the Open University, he was arrested on 25 August 1999 …Eight other students arrested by the Mirihana police have since been released: two of them were badly tortured, and have scars from being beaten on their backs and hung up by their wrists. Anthonipillai Binoth Vimalraj, originally from Mannar, was arrested on 24 August at New Asia lodge. During interrogation at Kotahena police station he was allegedly beaten all over his body, had pins inserted under his fingernails and had an iron rod inserted into his anus.”

Human Rights Violations continue despite hundreds of letters to President Kumaratunga, June 1999

“…Human rights violations in the east continue despite hundreds of letters from local MPs to President Chandrika and government ministers. Soldiers brutally assaulted 19 year-old Nithiyananthan Suthakaran near Mavadivembu Army camp on 18 June. He was admitted to the hospital in a serious condition. His mother and his sister Krishnaveni were also beaten up. In a letter to President Chandrika, Batticaloa MP Joseph Pararajasingham has demanded action against the soldiers…”

Amnesty continues to report – and Sri Lanka continues to torture, June 1999

“Torture by the security forces is reported almost daily in the context of their ongoing armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are fighting for an independent state, Eelam, in the north and east….In spite of existing legal safeguards, torture continues to be committed with relative impunity. Only a handful of cases against police officers are reportedly pending in the courts, and so far no one has been convicted for torture…”

In October 1997, the JMO in Colombo who examined Sinnarasa Anthonymala, a girl from Jaffna who had been arrested by the navy in July 1995 when she was 15 years old, found evidence of 46 wounds on her body. When Amnesty International interviewed Anthonymala during a visit to Sri Lanka in 1996, she explained how she was held naked and taken for interrogation by the navy up to three times per day throughout the period of her stay at the Kankesanthurai navy camp. She was tortured by being hung upside down and beaten on her legs, burnt with cigarettes, given electric shocks and burnt with heated metal rods. After she was transferred to the custody of the CID in Colombo, she was further tortured including by being cut in the back of the neck, hit in the mouth and on the legs with a piece of wood. The JMO in his report of 20 November 1997 to the High Court found “all scars [to be] over 6 months old and consistent with those of healed injuries sustained in 1995″.

Sri Lanka Supreme Court finds that Nesarasa Sivakumar was tortured… April 1999

“..The petitioner claims that, while he was kept at the Counter Subversive Unit, Batticaloa, he was tortured in the following manner and forced to sign certain documents:

a. By being beaten with wooden rods;
b. Kicked on his chest and abdomen;
c. A shopping bag containing petrol and chillie powder being placed on his head;
d. being immersed in water till he suffocated;
e. burnt with cigarette butts ;
f. penis and scrotum being pulled and squeezed . ..” more

International Peace Bureau condemns torture by Sri Lanka, April 1999

“It is sometimes assumed that in the South of the island Tamils enjoy their fundamental freedoms and rights. However this is far from the true picture. Arbitrary arrest and torture are routine. “

Torture in custody continues to remain a major problem says British Refugee Council Sri Lanka Monitor, February 1999

“Torture in custody continues to remain a major problem. Tamil trader M Jeganathan, 46, and M Masilamani, 52, were released by the Badulla High Court in January after evidence of torture was confirmed by the government Judicial Medical Officer. They were arrested in June 1997 in Demodara. The torture methods included assault with plastic pipes and batons, burning with cigarettes and covering the head with plastic bags dipped in petrol. Confessions were extracted from them under threat of torture. Jaffna resident Somasundaram Sivanesan, 42, says in a fundamental rights application to the Supreme Court that after arrest in October 1997 by the police Counter Subversive Unit (CSU), he was brutally assaulted and nails were inserted into the soles of his feet.”

Torture continues says British Refugee Council Sri Lanka Monitor, December 1998

Colombo Human Rights agency, the Forum for Human :Dignity (FHD) says in a letter to the Committee of Inquiry into Undue Arrest and Detention (CIAUD), that a young Tamil woman repatriated from France is suffering torture at the Kotahena suburb police station. Muthuthamby Vanitha, was arrested on 19 November in a Kotahena lodge. The agency has appealed to the authorities to produce Ms Vanitha before the courts.

In a fundamental rights application to the Supreme Court, Hill Country farmer Somasundaram Shanmugarajah says he is suffering brutal torture at the Nuwara Eliya police Counter Subversive Unit (CSU). Mr Shanmugarajah was arrested at Ragala, nine miles north-east of Nuwara Eliya, on 10 October 1998.

Torture is standard procedure in detention says Asia Pacific Centre for Justice and Peace, December 1998

“My discussion of torture will be focused on the East of Sri Lanka, since that is primarily where I did my research. I learned that the usual pattern of detention continues, in that torture is considered a widespread and standard procedure in detention. Laws regarding proper arrest procedures are still not being followed. I learned that the five main methods of torture in the east are a dry submarine, the placing of a bag soaked in petrol over the  detainee’s head; a wet submarine, the submerging of the detainee under water; the beating of the heels of the detainee; the hanging of the detainee by his thumbs; and the beating of the detainee with a dried bull’s penis. In addition to this, I also personally encountered and heard reports of  detainees having their knee caps dislocated, their arms or legs cut off, becoming deaf after having a pen rammed in their ears, and blind after being beaten on the back of the head. I learned that “tougher” officers are routinely sent to the East……”

The Cases of Sinnarasa Anthony Mala & Loius Rama  – Torture, Sri Lanka Style… December 1998

 The Judicial Medical Officer’s (JMO) report found 46 injuries on her person. She was compelled under torture to sign a statement of being a member of the LTTE’s Black Tiger suicide squad. Though released when Colombo High Court Judge Mahanama Tillekeratne exonerated her of all charges, he continues to stay at Welikade prison. The reason being that hailing from Jaffna, she has nowhere to stay in Colombo in safety. Mala was released on October 6, 1998. “

Torture Continues reports British Refugee Council Sri Lanka Monitor, October 1998

“Batticaloa student Ehamparam Damayanthi, 17, accused of failing to provide information about the LTTE to the authorities was released in late October (1998) by a High Court, after evidence of the Government Judicial Medical Officer confirmed her torture in custody. Ms Damayanthi was arrested in Batticaloa in April 1996 and the case against her was based on a confession, which the court said had not been made voluntarily. Human rights agencies visiting Sri Lanka in October found evidence of widespread torture.”

Amnesty Urgent Action Appeal against Torture of Tamil in custody, August 1998

“There are serious concerns for Thambirajah Kamalathasan, a Tamil man from Chunnakam, Jaffna, who was subjected to torture for several days following his arrest by police on 15 July 1998 in the capital, Colombo.Two witnesses saw Thambirajah Kamalathasan being assaulted with a rod at Pettah police station. Chili powder was reportedly rubbed into his eyes and his genitals were squeezed. After two or three days he had difficulty walking. One of his legs was apparently swollen below the knee.”

Asylum returnees tortured says British Refugee Council Sri Lanka Monitor, July 1998

“Young Tamil men originally from the north-east suspected of LTTE links are especially at risk of being tortured. Although Sri Lanka acceded to the Convention against Torture in 1994, broad powers of arrest and detention given to the security forces by the current security legislation contribute to human rights violations, including torture. In addition, torture is facilitated by widespread impunity of perpetrators, as no one has been charged for torture despite a number of judicial decisions…”

Torture – Sri Lanka’s 20 Year Record – Nadesan Satyendra, June 1998

“..A quick tour of the record will prove  that during the past twenty years and more,  torture has been carried out in a systematic, deliberate and sustained manner by the Sri Lanka authorities. And,  notwithstanding earnest appeals by organisations such as Amnesty, ‘business has gone on, very much as usual’…The short point that emerges from the 20 year proven record of torture by the Sri Lanka authorities is that Sri Lanka cannot impose its rule on  the Tamil homeland without recourse to terror. If it could, it would have.”

Torture and ill-treatment in army and police custody widespread, says Amnesty, June 1998

“Torture and ill-treatment in army and police custody were widespread. Kumaru Selvaratnam was arrested in March on suspicion of involvement with the LTTE. During the first eight days of his detention at Slave Island police station in Colombo, he was assaulted with a broomstick. He suffered injury to the testicles as a result of which they had to be surgically removedIn Jaffna, torture was widespread. Methods included near-suffocation with plastic bags filled with petrol; beatings with wire and plastic pipes; electric shocks; and suspension by the thumbs or ankles…”

Torture of Tamil in custody proved in Supreme Court, October 1997

“..Mohanadas was hung by his legs and tortured. His eye sight is affected after his head was covered with a plastic bag dipped in petrol. A confession had been obtained from him against his will, written in the Sinhala language which he does not understand. The police had filed several cases against him based on the confession…”

Arrests & torture of Tamils – continues with  impunity,  July 1997 – British Refugee Council

” Jaffna student R Pragalathan says in a fundamental rights application that after his arrest at Bambalapitiya suburb on 7 January pins were inserted under his nails and when he refused to sign a confession was brutally assaulted. Another Jaffna student G Balakumar, currently in Colombo Magazine prison, also suffered torture at the Joseph camp in Vavuniya after his arrest in June 1996…. In mid-July the Supreme Court also ordered the release of five Tamils arrested in Jaffna in late 1996 and early 1997, including 14 year-old student A Ashok, who had all suffered severe torture in custody. Another detainee Davis Aloysius arrested in Trincomalee on 17 March says he was hung by his legs and beaten with batons. His head was covered with a plastic bag dipped in petrol.”

“Sri Lanka torture includes electric shock” says US State Department Report, 1996

Methods of torture included electric shock, beatings (especially on the soles of the feet), suspension by the wrists or feet in contorted positions, burning, near drownings, placing of insecticide, chili powder, or gasoline-soaked bags over the head, and forced positions. Detainees have reported broken bones and other serious injuries as a result of their mistreatment…”

Tortured Tamil Bodies float on Bologoda Lake, May 1995

“… hundreds of Tamils were arbitrarily arrested and tortured. Many ‘disappeared’ and bodies were found floating in the waterways and lakes near Colombo..” “In the capital city of Colombo, a video store clerk named Naresh Rajadurai, 27, is last sighted in the company of an army officer. A week later, Rajadurai’s decomposed body is found 100 km north of Colombo with those of four other Tamil youths… corpses of young men, many with faces mutilated to prevent identification, have started showing up in lakes and field outside Colombo.”

Amnesty Report on the torture of Arulapu Jude Arulrajah – October 1993

‘Arulappu Jude Arulrajah was arrested on 2 October 1993 at about 1.30 a.m. from his lodge at Bambalapitiya, Colombo by armed men in civilian dress… Amnesty International interviewed him during a recent visit to Sri Lanka and collected evidence suggesting that he had been held in two unauthorised places of detention in Colombo until he was transferred to the custody of the CID on 15 December 1993.

It also found that he had been tortured and ill treated at his first place of detention which is thought to be an army camp by the sea, off Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo. During most of the two months he was held at this first place of detention, Arulrajah was blindfolded, with his hands and feet chained and he was kept in a darkened room usually naked.

He was regularly beaten and on one occasion he was hung from a wooden pole suspended between two tables and his genitals cut, possibly with a hacksaw… Arulrajah was never told the reason for the detention nor was he brought before a court or accused of having committed any crime.”

Amnesty International Annual Report 1992 for the period January to December 1991

“Torture of detainees was common… In the east of the country suspected LTTE members were seized, abducted and killed by men in plain clothes who were believed to be connected with the security forces. Victims bodies were left in public places often in a mutiliated stateIn April (1991) a number of headless bodies were found in Batticaloa: at least one was accompanied by a notice claiming responsibility signed by the ‘Black Cobras’. In Trincomalee town dozens of abductions were carried out be unidentified men believed to be associated with the army… Subramaniam Ketheeswaran disappeared after he was taken from a refugee camp at Bambalapitiya, Colombo in September by members of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party. About ten days later he was taken to an army camp in Batticaloa and questioned about his involvement with the LTTE..Detainees in the northeast were systematically tortured. Victims were beaten, stabbed, burned and scalded, partailly buried or had nails driven through the soles of their feet. Dozens of people reportedly died as a result, reportedly in the east. 

Amnesty International File on Torture, October 1985

“..Allegations that torture occurs in Sri Lanka have long been of concern to AI. Over the past five years, however, the organization has received consistent reports, many in the form of sworn affidavits, which lead it to conclude that the practice is widespread and persistent Torture is used particularly against political detainees, some of whom have died as a result, and also against criminal suspects. The following types of torture have been reported to AI:  

  • prolonged hanging upside down while being beaten all over the body, sometimes for the duration of one night and sometimes with the head tied in a bag in which chillies were burning, making the victim feel close to suffocating;
  • prolonged beatings especially on the soles of the feet while lying stretched out on a bench or while hanging by the knees from a pole;
  • beatings on the genitals and other parts of the body with sticks, batons and sand-filled plastic pipes;
  • insertion of chillie powder in the nostrils, mouth and eyes and on the genitals;
  • electric shocks;
  • insertion of pins under fingernails and toenails and in the heels;
  • insertion of iron rods in the anus;
  • burning with cigarettes;
  • mock or threatened executions.
Patricia Hyndman – Democracy in Peril, Report to Lawasia Human Rights Committee June 1985

“Detainees often have been held in army camps, incommunicado, without access to lawyers and relatives, and in some cases have been tortured and even killed whilst in custody…(In one case) it was found, at a post mortem examination, that the detainee had suffered twenty five external and ten internal injuries which had been inflicted on him by force. This was the case of Mr.A.K.Navaratnarajah (a Tamil) who died on the 10th of April 1983 whilst held in custody. At the time of my visit in February 1985, no one had been charged with Mr.Navaratnarajah’s murder…

Trevor Fishlock reporting in the London Times, January 1985

” Staff (at Jaffna General Hospital) told me they see many victims of army beatings. Typically, boys emerge from interrogation and spells in custody with multiple bruises caused by thrashings with PVC pipes filled with sand. Some have heel fractures, having been suspended and beaten on the feet.”“A doctor said: ‘I see about five of these cases a week, but remember that many victims do not seek treatment because they are afraid… “

Case Study of Torture, Sri Lanka Style –  April 1984

“..I was told to lie down on the floor. They took off my sarong and tied my ankles. My wrists were put in handcuffs beneath my knees. I was then hung upside down from a cross-bar on the ceiling 10 or 12 feet from the floor. Five guards surrounded me-two beat me with S-lon rods on the feet and two others beat me all over my body. The fifth held his hand over mv mouth to prevent me crying out. The army captain stood watching. After some time he asked me again to name my movement. I said I was a student. He asked other questions such as whether I knew how to use a gun and whether I had been to India. I said “No” to all the questions.

After one hour my torturers took off for a tea break. While they were away someone brought a large cube of ice which he placed on my private parts where it was left for twenty minutes. [This is believed to be used to freeze the tissues to prevent external evidence of injury while still enabling the victim to feel the pain.] The soldiers then started beating me over my private parts. The pain was intense. I cried out and they held a hand over my mouth to stop me. This torture lasted for two hours…”

Torture – almost universal practise of Sri Lankan authorities says International Commission of Jurists, June 1983

“…From informal records held in Jaffna, the author has discovered that at least 23 members of the Tamil community have died in, or as a result of being in army or police custody since July 1979. In addition four persons have ‘disappeared’ whilst in such custody and must be presumed to dead… the former detainees detailed to the author systematic inhumane and violent treatment at the hands of those who were detaining them over long periods of time…  Several instances were reported to the author of persons being hung upside down with a bag covering their head into which was introduced fine ground dried chilli powder. Evidence of the effect of this on the metabolism of the lungs was read by the author in the inquest depositions……the author accepts that it is the almost universal practice of the military authorities to physically assault and mistreat those persons who have been in their custody with the principal locations for that assault being the Elephant Pass army camp and the Panagoda army camp in Colombo…”

Amnesty International Report, 1980

‘In the period immediately after the emergency declaration (in July 1979) a pattern of arbitrary arrest and detention existed and torture was used systematically… Six young men, reported arrested in the days after the emergency declaration, died in the custody of the police after having been tortured and the bodies of three of them have still not been found…Various methods of torture have been used by both the police and the army in the period immediately after the emergency declaration, including suspending people upside down by the toes whilst placing their head in a bag with suffocating fumes of burning chillies, prolonged and severe beatings, insertion of pins in the finger tips and the application of broken chillies and biting ants to sensitive parts of the body and threats of execution. After these and other methods of torture had been applied, statements were extracted and recorded’

“…What is needed is not impotent breast-beating, however cathartic it may be, over past atrocities. What is more important and urgent is to reveal the past within the present. The need of the hour is to condemn the continuing Holocaust, the draconian war against the Tamil people and to expose the genocidal intent of the Sinhalese-controlled State. On 16th  Anniversary of Genocide’83 – S Sathananthan & Sabiha Sumar, 28 July 1998
The record shows that thousands of Tamils have been tortured  by Sri Lanka Security Forces acting within the facilitating framework of  Emergency Regulations and Laws. and with impunity Torture is considered standard procedure in detention. The methods of torture have included –

– insertion of chilli powder in the nostrils, mouth and eyes and on the genitals;– covering the victim’s head with a plastic bag soaked in petrol;–  burning with cigarettes;– applying  red ants to sensitive parts of the victims’ bodies;–  suspending upside down by the toes whilst victims’ heads were placed in a bag with suffocating fumes of  burning chillies;– prolonged beatings especially on the soles of the feewhile victim lies stretched out on a bench or while hanging by the knees from a pole or hanging by feet;

– having pins driven under fingernails and toenails and in the heels;

– depriving victims of food and sleep;

– beatings on the genitals and other parts of the body with sticks, batons andsand-filled plastic pipes;

– genitals cut with a hack saw

– applying electric shocks, including to the genitals;

– forcing victim to masturbate Sri Lanka soldiers manually and  orally

– forcing victims to rape each other in front of soldiers for their entertainment

– inserting iron rods and sticks in the anus;

– mock or threatened executions

 

A poem by Thaya Thiagarajah 24 September 2000 – ‘I wrote this poem to let peopleknow the agony of the prison life our people face here.’

Why?

Tied Up
Tried out
Dusty ground
Walls around
No window panes
Firm steel gates
Stinking toilet
Electric shocks
Tight padlock
What a habitat!

Empty stomach
Sore buttock
Broken limbs
Swollen lips
Unquenched thirst
Uncovered breast
Clothing minimum
Torture the maximum
Head bloody
What a body!

Nocturnal nightmares
Diurnal Flashbacks
Darkest despair
Speechless ‘aphasia’
Immeasurable oppression
Unattended depression
Unrevealed dreams
Unspoken wants
Aimless goal!
What a soul!

Innocent imprisoned
Under laws unwritten
Charges unproved
Trials unheard
Plight of a prisoner
Beckons you for ever
Compassionate hearts
Make haste
Pay heed

Let her be free.

______________________
Source:  TamilNation.org
Content on this page last updated 31-10-2007 by TamilNation.org

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