Jaffna 'disappeared' are dead: Amnesty

[TamilNet, Friday, 28 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Approximately 540 Tamil people who 'disappeared' in the Jaffna peninsula are dead according to Amnesty International. In a report published yesterday, the London based human rights organisation said that "nearly all of them are likely to have died under torture or to have been deliberately killed [by Sri Lankan security forces]".

Amnesty International says that approximately 540 people 'disappeared' in the Jaffna peninsula within the middle six months of 1996 alone and most of them are believed to have died under torture or been deliberately killed in Sri Lankan military custody.

Amnesty says "Hundreds of others were victims of torture at the hands of the security forces", adding that they had received "several reports of rape by members of the army".

Amnesty says they continue to receive reports of disappearances from Jaffna and other parts of the Tamil homelands controlled by the SLA.

The Sri Lankan security forces resorted to widespread disappearances in reprisal for attacks on their members by the LTTE said Amnesty, noting that this had happened often in the past also. Over 60% of the 540 disappearances occurred in the two months after the LTTE overran the SLA's Mullaithivu base, killing 1300 soldiers.

Amnesty says that the Sri Lankan government has to take responsibility for allowing the disappearances to happen, but there was 'no evidence' of an official sanction for these.

However, there was a 'lingering climate of impunity' amongst the Sri Lankan security forces, according to Amnesty.

Amnesty said that there had been "sporadic" incidents of human rights abuses by the LTTE in the peninsula, primarily the killings of 10 army informers and the deaths of civilians in some of the LTTE attacks on Sri Lankan military checkpoints and patrols.

Amnesty has learnt that members of ex-militant Tamil groups (primarily the EPRLF) opposed to the LTTE are acting as informants for the Sri Lankan army. These groups are working closely with the Sri Lankan army in other parts of the country also .

Amnesty says that the experience of the past year shows that "Sri Lanka will remain prone to upsurges of serious human rights violations, particularly 'disappearances'" unless these problems are tackled 'at their root cause'.

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