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Sri Lanka State Terrorism
Rape & Murder of Eelam Tamil Women
An open letter to President Chandrika B. Kumaratunge,
- Rape and torture of innocent Tamil women
Dr. Victor Rajakulendran
3 April 2001
Her Excellency, Mrs. Chandrika B. Kumaratunge,
I am writing to you for the 3rd time in the last 3 years. This time I am writing with the main purpose of bringing to your attention and the International Community's attention, the plight of Ms Wijikala Nanthan (22) and Sivamani Weerakoon Banda (24), two Tamil sisters from my country of birth. As I write this, they may be still languishing in Mannar prison to join the hundreds of other innocent Tamils who are behind the bars without trial for long periods, under your favorite, draconian, Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Your Excellency, you are busy roaming around the European capitals, ably assisted by your hired Foreign Minister (not elected by people), trying to convince the European leaders that the Tamils who are using these countries as their refuge are financing "terrorism" in your country. While you are doing this, members of your elite Counter Subversive Unit (CSU), who are under your own command, are busy terrorizing the Tamil women in the North of your country. Your elite unit is fit only to be called the "Cruel Sex-mania Unit". You may be wondering why I am saying this. Of course, always you either turn a blind eye, to these things or you do not care because the victims are after all only Tamils. Your Excellency, you may not have herd about what you are going to read next, which had happened only a few days ago in your country.
Your Excellency, according to the Catholic Bishop of Mannar Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, the CSU has been in the habit of arresting women such as Sivamani and Wijikala from various parts of the Mannar district to rape, and exploit brutally under the pretext of interrogation and extended detention, under the PTA and the Emergency Regulations. According to a statement issued by the Bishop Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph on the 31st of March, "The atrocities of the Sri Lankan navy personnel in Mannar district are growing bad to worse daily. All my efforts to get the Sri Lanka Navy to respect the basic human rights of the people so affected by the prolonged war are proving futile. I have again appealed to the Commander General of the Sri Lankan Navy for redress on behalf of the civil public of Mannar." [Bishop could be contacted by Telephone- 94-23-32290]
His Lordship, amongst many other assault, torture and murder incidents by the Navy personnel, has described what had happened to the two young ladies I have mentioned above, in his statement of 31st March 2001. According to him:
"On the 19th of March 2001, about ten Navy personnel entered a private lodge at Uppukulam in Mannar at 10.30pm and arrested two women by the name of Wijikala (22) an expectant mother already with one child and Sivamani (24) a mother of three children. They had been living in the refugee camps in Vavuniya and had come to Mannar on private business.
After the arrest, on their way to the special Investigation Unit, the navy personnel started to make sexual advances on these two helpless females. On arrival at the SIU, Mannar at 11.30 in the same night Wijikala was taken inside, and along with some Navy personnel, some SIU personnel joined in a room, and forcefully stripped her naked. They then tied her hands and laid her on a table and sexually assaulted her in ways so inhuman and so brutal. Consequently, two of these men brutally raped her repeatedly.
Meanwhile, Sivamani who was kept in a white van used by the Navy had been made naked by the Navy personnel and sexually molested by them, and one of them blindfolded her with his stocking. The driver of the vehicle was holding both her hands behind and a Navy man raped her. After a while, Sivamani was also taken with her dresses on, in to the above room. There she was forcibly stripped naked and in a brutal way, sexually assaulted by all present in the room, while rest of the Navy personnel were peeping into the sex torture room through the openings on the walls. Their cries could only be heard by the other detainees at the SIU. They were in tears when they related their trauma to me, on my visit with them in the company of a unit in the prison lock-up in Mannar on the 27th instant. They mentioned frequently the names of one Raja and another Wimal of the SIU that were mercilessly extra brutal to them. The ladies also said that the person whom they came to know as the OIC of the SIU was also taking part in this brutality.
These victims then, were threatened with further torture and were forced to sign a statement to say that they were from the LTTE. Three days later they were taken to the DMO, Mannar. These victims were told by the SIU that they would be killed if they revealed anything to the DMO. The helpless victims told the DMO out of fear, being in the presence of the SIU personnel, that they had no complaints to make and they were briskly taken away by the SIU personnel. This is how the medical examination of these poor victims was made to end up. The victims were taken before the Mannar Magistrate by the SIU only on the 27th instant at 6.30pm.
On my appeal to the magistrate and to the deputy Provincial Director of Health Services, Mannar, on behalf of the public, a fresh medical examination of these two unfortunate victims had been undertaken by the DMO, Mannar on 30.03.2001.
Your Excellency, now Dr. G. Somasekaram, the DMO in his report to the Mannar court on 31.03.2001, has confirmed almost all what has been described above.
Your Excellency, this is not the first time these types of atrocities have been committed by the security forces under your command. To mention a few; hundreds of Tamils were massacred by the Security Forces in Thangavelayuthapuram, Veeramunai, Pandiruppu in the Ampara district and in Sathurukkondaan, and the refugee camp at the Eastern University in the Baticaloa district in 1990. More than 160 Tamils were killed in the village of Kokkadicholai by the Sri Lankan army in 1991.
More than 600 innocent Tamil youths went missing (Amnesty International has confirmed this) in Jaffna after your Security Forces took control of the peninsula, many of them alleged to have been buried in mass graves at Chemmani. Koneswary (Ampara), Ida Kamalitta (Mannar) Sarathampal (Pungudutheivu) were raped and murdered by your Security Forces personnel and none of whom have been brought to book so far.
Investigations are seldom conducted so as to collect the required evidence to launch a prosecution against the offenders and secure a conviction. Another common practice is to falsely implicate persons against whom there is no evidence, to facilitate the escape of the real offenders. Yet another common practice is to transfer guilty personnel to other distant areas, so that their identity with the crime gets blurred and identification of the offender becomes more difficult. It would appear that such a process is being set in motion, in respect of the rape and torture of the two ladies His Lordship Rayappu Joseph has detailed in his statement.
Since you became the Commander in Chief in 1994, the Krishanthy Kumaraswamy case is the only instance related to a Tamil female victim where service personnel who were such offenders have been convicted. This was obviously done to keep the International Community quite, by creating a false impression that your administration is dealing harshly with the human right violators. Your failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of such crimes, and rewarding retired Army Officers such as Janaka Perrera with diplomatic postings, who has been responsible for Mass Graves in both the North and the South of the country, emboldens service personnel to continue to commit such crimes with a sense of impunity.
Your Excellency, you are trying to make full use of the LTTE's declaration of a unilateral cease-fire, to convince the European leaders that a negotiated settlement is in sight. You are doing this with the idea of obtaining their financial aid for development work in your country. While you are doing all this, your Security forces are trying hard to provoke the LTTE to break that cease-fire. You think that by doing this you could convince the IC that the LTTE only pulled out of the negotiations. However the IC is well aware that you have not reciprocated even in a minute way, the cease-fire offer from the LTTE, which is in its 4th month now.
Your Foreign Minister made the statement, just before he left for France with you, that more kerosene and other essential food items will be allowed into the LTTE controlled areas, but not the prohibited items. From this statement, it would have been easier for the IC to realise that, not only there is an economic embargo enforced by your government on the Tamil areas, but also there is restriction on the supply of non-prohibited food items. While you are trying to convince the IC that a peaceful settlement of the crisis is in sight, your security forces are heavily bombing civilian habitations and dropping leaflets asking the civilians to move away from LTTE controlled areas, in preparation for an imminent war. This casts serious doubts on your honesty, with regard to what you have been talking in Europe about the possible peace in your country in the near future.
Your Excellency, when you were visiting the Netherlands recently (March), a leading Dutch human rights lawyer Cornelius Schoorlon was reported to have petitioned the Chief Prosecutor in Amsterdam, requesting him to authorise your arrest by Netherlands officials and charge you in Hagues International Court of Justice as a war criminal. He was reported to have argued his case on the basis that you in your capacity as Commander in Chief of the Sri Lankan armed forces, bear responsibility for the various acts of torture and crimes against humanity for which they are allegedly responsible. Wykrsooth, the Prosecutor General of Netherlands was reported to have informed the petitioner that the charges were too vague and that exact details of the alleged incidents of torture and crimes against humanity had not been annexed. Don't you think that the petitioner would have been delighted by this reply because the Prosecutor General has given enough hope for such an action in the future. You may be unaware that there could be several Corneliuses gathering information to make this happen next time you are in Europe.
Your Excellency, as you are aware that the President Slobodan Milosevic has become a prisoner in his country today, because of corruption, abuse of power and for commanding a Serbian dominated army which committed brutal acts of rape and torture on the ethnic minorities in that country. The IC is asking the authorities in Belgrade to hand him over to the International Court of Justice. Your Excellency, please take a break and think for a minute. Are you different in any way to Slobodan Milosevic? Your government is with full of corruption and bribery. You have abused your power under the PTA and Emergency Regulations. You are the Commander in Chief of a Sinhalese dominated security force that has committed atrocities more brutal than Milosevic's forces, in trying to suppress the freedom struggle of the Tamil Nation in your country. Therefore it is only a matter of time now for few Corneliuses to get together and gather enough information to justify your arrest.
Therefore I earnestly appeal to you, to order an impartial investigation to bring the perpetrators who committed the crimes against Sivamani and Wijikala, before the Law and adequately punish them. For your safety, for the safety and security of Tamils and for the sake of your country, I also appeal to you to make use of the LTTE's unilateral cease-fire opportunity to bring about a negotiated settlement to the conflict and avoid facing a similar fate as Slobodan Melosevic.
Dr. Victor Rajakulendran
Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar, Sri Lanka
Hon. Hor Namhong, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Austria
Hon. Louis Michel, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs, Belgium
Hon. Niels Helveg Peterson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark
Hon. Jan-Erik Enestam, Minister of defence, Finland
Hon. Hubert Vedrine, Minister of Foreign Affairs, France
Hon. Joshka Fisher, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Germany
Hon. George A. Papandreou, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Greece
Hon. Brian Cowen T.D., Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ireland
Hon. Lamberto Dini, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Italy
Hon. Jean Spautz, President de la Chamber des Deputes, Luxembourg
Hon. Joniaz Van Aartsen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Netherlands
Hon. Dr. Jaime Jose Matos da Gama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Portugal
Hon. Joseph Pique, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Spain
Hon. Anna Lindh, Minister for Froeign Affairs, Sweden
Rt Hon. Robin Cook MP, The Foreign secretary, United Kingdom
Hon. Yohei Kono, Foreing Minister, Japan
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada
Mr. Colin L. Powell, Secretary of State, USA
Hon. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs, South Africa
Hon. Alexander Downer MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia
Rape and Torture
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2001