Amnesty concerned for PLOTE's detainees

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 February 1999, 14:47 GMT]
The human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has expressed concern over the safety of four men who are believed to have been detained by the paramilitary group PLOTE, in Vavuniya.

In a press release issued yesterday Amnesty said that the four: Sivam Ashokumar (20), Arumugam Pakkiri (alias Jeya) (35) and two others, names unknown," are at risk of torture or 'disappearance'."

According to Amnesty International PLOTE members had attempted to kill one of the men, Sivam Ashokumar, before abducting him on January 24, 1999.

"On 23 January, two PLOTE members had reportedly come to his home to kill him, but left when his neighbours protected him. The reasons for this attack are unknown." said the statement.

PLOTE leaders in Vavuniya have so far denied any knowledge of the detention, said Amnesty.

"Shortly after he was taken away, his relatives made inquiries at the PLOTE camp in Kurumankadu, but PLOTE leaders apparently denied he was in their custody," the statement said.

The three other men, who were arrested on February 7, the day after they had arrived together in Vavuniya from Mannar, had their national identity cards taken from them, said the statement.

"Arumugam Pakkiri (alias Jeya), a carpenter, came to Vavuniya from Mannar on 6 February. He was taken from the lodge where he had been staying at 9am on 7 February by members of PLOTE, who confiscated his identity card and those of two other people who had travelled with him, and then took all three men away," the statement said.

According to the press release Arumugam Parkkiri was detained on suspicion of being a member of the LTTE.

" Later that day PLOTE members brought Arumugam Pakkiri (alias Jeya) to the house of a relative in Rambaikulam, Vavuniya and said that he was being taken into custody on suspicion of being a member of the LTTE. When his relatives made initial inquiries at the local PLOTE camp they were told that Arumugam Pakkiri (alias Jeya) was under investigation and could not be released," said the Amnesty statement.

PLOTE members in the area have since denied knowledge of Arumugam Pakkiri's arrest, the Amnesty statement added.

"Since then the relatives of both men have made inquiries at PLOTE camps in the area including Malar Malagai, "Lucky House" and Kovilkulam. PLOTE members have denied that the men are in their custody," said the press release.

Amnesty International urged the Sri Lankan Government to "provide immediate information about their whereabouts to their friends and relatives," and welcomed the procedures it had introduced to "safeguard the safety of detainees."

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