Government attitudes may contribute to rapes -Sampanthan
[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 April 2001, 20:39 GMT]
"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" said the Secretary General of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), Mr.Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, in a letter to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge.
Mr.Sampanthan has sent this letter to the President regarding the rape and torture of two Tamil females by Sri Lankan service personnel at Uppukulam, Mannar.
The full text of the letter is given below:
"I wish to draw your attention to the facts contained in reports that have appeared in Tamil newspapers pertaining to the rape and torture of two Tamil females by the names of Mrs Sivamany and Mrs. Vijikala Natunam arrested on 19th March at Uppukulam, Mannar. It would appear that they were arrested by service personnel and subsequently handed over to the Counter Subversive Unit of the Police. The reports indicate that His Lordship Rayappu Joseph, the Bishop of Mannar, met the two victims at the Mannar Police Station, and that the victims have made a disclosure of what happened to them to the Bishop.
"Briefly the relevant facts as stated in the said reports as follows:
(1) Mrs Sivamany Archunan and Mrs Vijikala Natkunam were arrested on the night of 19th March and were raped and tortured by several service /police personnel from about 11 p.m. that night till around 5 a.m. the next morning. They were stripped naked and gang raped.
(2) Both were accused of being members of the LTTE. The reports indicate that both females are married, and that the former was the mother of three children. Even it they were members of the LTTE which seems unlikely, there can be no justification whatever, for their being raped and tortured.
(3) The conduct of the service/police personnel as it would appear from the said reports can only be described as being sadistic to the extreme, and utterly beastly.
(4) The victims were severely warned by the perpetrators of the crimes, that they should not disclose what happened to them to the Magistrate or any one else, and that they should not submit themselves to any medical examination. They were warned of serious consequences if the warning was not adhered. Later reports indicate that have been medically examined subsequent to the Bishop of Mannar meeting them. (5) The victims have apparently confirmed to the Bishop of Mannar that they can identify the persons who committed these crimes.
"It is imperative that an impartial investigation be conducted and that the perpetrators of the crimes be brought before the Law and adequately punished.
"The rape of Tamil females by service personnel has been a continuing phenomenon, and in the past several months, there have been several instances of rape by service personnel brought to light both in the north and east. Investigations are seldom conducted so as to collect the required evidence to launch a prosecution against the offenders and secure a conviction. The best illustration of this would be the "Sarathambal Rape Case from Pungudutheivu, Jaffna, where despite the Criminal Investigation Department being called in within 48 hours, proper investigations were allowed to drift, until the offenders were able to get away scot-free. Another common practice is to falsely implicate persons against there is no evidence, to facilitate the escape of the real offenders. This was sought to be done in the "Bindunuwewa incident", and even senior members of your Government had to raise their serious concern on behalf of those so implicated.
"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 crimes that constitute the subject matter of my present complaint.
"It cannot be denied that even since 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.
"The fact that nothing has happened in several other such instances emboldens service personnel to continue to commit such crimes with a sense of impunity.
"It would also 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 such brutality 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.
"This incident has not been reported by the mainstream English media. I am almost certain that the Sinhala media would not have reported the incident.
"Neither Your Excellency nor Your Foreign Minister have acknowledged in the course of your recent visits to several European countries, that serious human rights violation, such as the instance, I have referred to above, continue even under your Government. The fact that the position in respect of Human Rights violations is somewhat better than under previous Governments is of little solace to the Tamil people, as long as serious Human rights violations continue.
"The fact that some Service Personnel behave better with the Tamil people compared to earlier times, is of little relevance as long as such serious violations continue by other service personnel.
"The Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations are the instruments through which the Human Rights of unarmed Tamil civilians is continuously subjected to gross abuse.
"The Tamil people surely entitled to ask that they be freed from this agony without any further delay.
"I wish to keep Your Excellency informed, that I am circulating copies of this letter to the important diplomatic missions in Colombo"the letter concludes.
Mr.Sampanthan has sent copies of this letter to the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Justice Minister, and Constitutional Affairs Minister and over twenty diplomatic missions in Colombo.