Sri Lanka forces torture Tamil detainees: group
By Nita Bhalla ,ReutersNEW DELHI -- Sri Lanka's security forces have used rape to torture and extract confessions from suspected Tamil separatists almost four years after the country's civil war ended, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Tuesday.
February 27, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
The rights group documented 75 cases of predominately Tamil men and women who said they were held in Sri Lankan detention centers and repeatedly raped and sexually abused by the military, police and intelligence officials.
The victims — now living as asylum seekers, most of them in Britain — said once they confessed to being a member of the Tamil Tiger rebel group, the abuse generally stopped and they were allowed to escape by paying a bribe, before fleeing abroad.
“We found that rape was used to secure some sort of confession, but also as a political tool to punish people,” Meenakshi Ganguly, the rights group's South Asia director, told a news conference in New Delhi.
“These were people who had some connection with the Tigers ... who were forced to sign confessions, and only then would the rapes stop.”
Ganguly said sexual abuse was only one form of torture that the people suffered: “They were also severely tortured, burnt by cigarettes and hung upside down.”
Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to New Delhi said he had no evidence to suggest the allegations of abuse, which the rights group said occurred from 2006 to 2012, were true.
The ambassador, Prasad Kariyawasam, said the testimonies of 41 women, 31 men and 3 boys were likely made by “economic refugees” who “need a good story” to get 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,” Kariyawasam told Reuters.
“Until there is a proper examination ... in the Sri Lankan court system, we will not be able to accept these allegations.”
He said the report was “a well-timed effort” to discredit Sri Lanka ahead of a vote on a U.S.-backed resolution criticizing it at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.