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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, July 16, 2018

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Sri Lankan forces raped Tamils in custody claims report

The Human Rights Watch

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LONDON - In a damning report of alleged atrocities against Tamil Tigers, international rights groups, the Human Rights Watch, has said that the Sri Lankan forces have used sexual violence to the extent of "rape" against suspected insurgents and their supporters.

The 141-page report, "We Will Teach You a Lesson: Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces", was released Tuesday.

It provides detailed accounts of 75 cases of alleged "rape and sexual abuse" that occurred from 2006-2012 in both official and secret detention centers throughout Sri Lanka.

In the cases documented by the rights group, men and women reported being raped on multiple days, often by several people, with the army, police, and pro-government paramilitary groups frequently participating.

"The Sri Lankan security forces have committed untold numbers of rapes of Tamil men and women in custody," said Asia director at Human Rights Watch Brad Adams.

"These are not just wartime atrocities but continue to the present, putting every Tamil man and woman arrested for suspected LTTE involvement at serious risk."

The Sri Lankan government dismissed the report as "rubbish" and "lies".

Sri Lanka's military spokesman, Ruwan Wanigasooriya, rejected all of the allegations because they lacked credibility.

The report, he said, consisted of "fabricated allegations" and "good creative writing".

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to India said there was no evidence to substantiate the claims.

Prasad Kariyawasam said the testimonies of the 41 women, 31 men and three boys were likely made by "economic refugees" who "need a good story" to claim asylum.

"Until we do a proper inquiry, we have to believe that these are all sob stories for the sake of obtaining asylum or refugee status in a developed country."

The report comes during a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, which is expected to discuss a resolution critical of Sri Lanka's human rights record and the army's conduct during the last phase of the war.

At least 100,000 people died during the 26-year war between government troops and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighting for a separate homeland. The Tamil Tigers were defeated in 2009.

Both sides were accused of human rights abuses throughout the conflict and particularly in its final stages, when thousands of civilians were trapped in a thin strip of land in the north of Sri Lanka as fighting raged around them.

HRW conducted the interviews over a 12-month period with former detainees in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The research was carried out secretly because of government access restrictions, the organisation says.

As a result, it was able to speak only to ex-captives and not to current detainees, whose "fate is of urgent concern".

Based on its findings, the report has called on the Sri Lankan government to investigate and prosecute "those responsible".

These include "persons with command or other superior responsibility, in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards".

Other recommendations include abolishing detention without charge or trial; granting humanitarian groups better access to the north of the country; and releasing individuals held without charge under emergency or anti-terrorism laws.

 

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