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Nov-24-2011 17:07printcomments

Fear, Genocide and Torture in Sri Lanka

Survivors' well-founded fear of speaking out about torture in Sri Lanka is just one of the reasons that little information on the practice has been released.

Scars of torture in Sri Lanka
Scars of torture in Sri Lanka. Photo: Channel 4 in London.

(SALEM) - Freedom from Torture in the UK, one of the world's leading anti-human torture groups, published a shocking report this month with new evidence of continuing torture in Sri Lanka.

It's bad news and tragically, demonstrates that the practice of illegal human torture is continuing long after the end of the civil war in May 2009.

The torture methods described by surviving victims are enough to make your skin crawl. Americans have little to nothing to say as their own country has embraced the medieval concept of human torture, which morally, sends us centuries back in time.

The United States migrated from being a country that abhorred such behavior, to become one under Republican leadership that gladly and happily embraces the idea.

None of this helps the people of Sri Lanka. In fact, it was the United States President G.W. Bush who made arrangements to block the leadership of the Tamil population from advocating for itself in world politics. All it takes is a 'terrorist' designation and all political negotiating power flew out the window.

Bush's decision set the stage for Rajapaksa's Genocide, so it isn't surprising that gutless coward-like torture endorsing politicians in the USA remain tight lipped. They do know what happened however.

Up to 160k people remain missing from the Tamil Genocide of 2009 and the resulting Diaspora. Official counts of the number of dead come in generally around 40k, but four times that number of people were never seen again.

The SLA (Sri Lanka Army) burned and destroyed records, in an apparent attempt to squash evidence. It only partly worked.

The research performed by Freedom from Torture ...shows that torture is perpetrated by officials within both the military and the police and that people within the Tamil population who are perceived by the authorities as having links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) remain at risk of being detained and tortured.

Quoting the words of Sri Lanka torture survivor, Saarheerthan, the report tells of forced confessions and people's bodies being taxed with the deprivations of state terrorism.

Many of us bear the marks of torture on our minds and bodies, but in Sri Lanka you can't express that you've been tortured. If you show your scars to [an official] you risk them telling the authorities and you would likely be detained again.
- Saarheerthan, Sri Lankan torture survivor

Sri Lanka President Majinda Rajapaksa and his brothers, who run Sri Lanka, have called foul during every step of the process. Credible reports from former SLA officials, state that the Genocide of Tamil civilians and members of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) 'Tamil Tigers' happened as a direct call to action from Sri Lanka's highest office.

The group contends that the survivors' well-founded fear of speaking out about torture in Sri Lanka, is just one reason accounting for the small amount of information that has been publicly released. Of courser the other very obvious reason is that Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa regime had all of the Tamil friendly journalists disappeared and killed. The stories of Murders surrounding the losses of both reporters and news editors, is mind boggling.

The Freedom from Torture report now will play an important role in breaking the silence of the last two years. The group has used forensic methods to document evidence of torture through the production of medico-legal reports (MLRs) for use in the context of asylum claims by torture survivors who have fled to the UK.

Freedom from Torture's Chief Executive Keith Best, said:

As well as recording serious psychological impact in virtually all of the individuals whose cases are sampled in this report, the evidence also reveals high levels of visible scarring which strongly suggests a deliberate policy of 'branding' and an environment where perpetrators act with impunity. The experiences documented in the report of signed confessions forced through torture, fingerprinting and the deliberate infliction of visible injuries, mean that the risk of future detention and torture for survivors on return to Sri Lanka remains high, especially given the fact that in every single one of these 35 cases release from detention was resultant on the payment of a bribe. Fourteen had reported torture on their return from periods of time spent abroad.

In light of this new evidence, the UK government must act immediately to ensure it is not returning individuals to a risk of torture in Sri Lanka. It is important that the UK Border Agency reviews and amends the country guidance information used by decision makers who consider asylum applications. While serious concerns remain, the UK should also put in place effective monitoring of any individual it forcibly returns to Sri Lanka to ensure their safety. We hope the UK government will play a leadership role within the international community to ensure that impunity for torture and other serious human rights violations in Sri Lanka is not allowed to reign. This is particularly essential as the Sri Lankan government's own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is widely considered to be seriously compromised and not capable of delivering justice for the Sri Lankan people.

Best says the 35 individuals whose MLRs were reviewed in Freedom from Torture's study were detained in a range of facilities around Sri Lanka. They all report being targeted due to an actual or perceived association with the LTTE, often through family members, or an opposition political party. In other words, there was no proof that these individuals were connected to this band of freedom fighters who have been revered and applauded for many years for their diligence in trying to improve the situation for Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

It has been both widely reported and disputed, that the LTTE forcibly recruited Tamils into membership and other support roles during the civil war, but the premise suggests that a very large proportion of the Tamil population is at risk of being targeted on this basis. There is little to support the notion that the military group of Tamil defenders. All because the United Nations and European Union allowed the LTTE to be branded as 'terrorists' when they only wanted to provide security for the breakaway republic of Tamil Eelam. The 'terrorism' in the LTTE only began after the failure of 30 years of Gandhi-style passive, peaceful resistance.

If this article piques your interest and you would like to know more, visit: Salem-News.com Sri Lanka articles

Source: freedomfromtorture.org


Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of just under 100 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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peacewithdignity, USA November 26, 2011 7:42 am (Pacific time)

Excellent perspective of the Tamil struggle. Appreciate an honest effort by Salem-News. Tamils will secure their freedom like other every other country in the long run. Semblance of a passive clam is only temporary. Internationally-fronted war against Tamils and the ensuing crimes committed by the Sri Lankan rulers and the military will be pursued systematically in the world forums. Flames of freedom can not be quenched by name calling ("T-word") a grass-root struggle. In fact the internationally-coordinated attack on Tamils inside and outside Tamil Eelam was strategized since 2002 to eliminate a would-be successful model of liberation. Tamil people of Eelam were able to build an independent method to free themselves from the post-colonial control - and it would have been an example for many other struggles in progress around the world. Wikileak cables confirm that US mission knew as early as Jan-2009 that there were 300,000 civilians caught in the cross fire, yet SL Government was quoting 80,000 (just to deliver least amount of food and medicine)in the conflict zone - and it was never challenged by the US mission in Colombo. What was the implicit strategy among the international players?

Saro November 26, 2011 4:00 am (Pacific time)

Thank you, Tim King, for highlighting the facts surrounding Tamils especially the suspects arrested or surrendered following the 'end' of the war. You have given the actual number of Tamils who were killed and missing. The present US administration should not compromise the war crimes and genocide for the white wash of LLRC. It's report is intended to impress the international community but nothing will happen to its recommendations.

Human Rights matter November 25, 2011 3:03 pm (Pacific time)

The Sri Lankan government is adding insult to injury when they say they're "counting" how many Tamils were murdered by their soldiers. 40,000 people have been murdered, so says the UN. And yet, 160,000 have never been seen again. What happened to them? Where are they? How can the Sinhalese government say not a single Tamil was killed, when infact, tens and tens of thousands of families are living devastated lives without their loves ones? The Sri Lankan government can't say 160,000 Tamils escaped and went to other countries, because if that's the case, we'd know about it. So what happened to the 160,000 Tamils? Unless the Sri Lankan government is hiding them in secret concentration camps, torturing and starving them to death, which is not entirely unlikely.

Raja November 25, 2011 3:53 am (Pacific time)

Less we forget. 40,000 departed souls are crying for justice.

Siva November 25, 2011 12:28 am (Pacific time)

Nadesan was getting ready to surrender which was arranged by UN, Norway and other authorities . This is his last words (translation from Tamil) before he was gunned downed when he proceeded to surrender with white flag. ‘Here it is a jungle of corpses. Even the dying bodies are crying. Every moving object is shot at by the Sri Lanka military.’

Steven Williams November 24, 2011 11:27 pm (Pacific time)

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been telling us there had been zero civilian casualty. Why is the sudden change of heart? Did Chanel 4, USA, Russia, UK, China and India provide him with war crime evidences? Did China and India indicate their unwillingness to protect him from war crime charges? Why Gota’s sudden U turn.

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