Amnesty concerned over new "disappearances"

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 August 2000, 12:48 GMT]
Amnesty International said Monday it was concerned for two Tamil men who have been reported "disappeared" after being arrested by Sri Lanka Army soldiers in Vavuniya this month. The London based human rights pressure group said there has been an increase in reports of torture, "disappearances" and deaths in custody since new emergency regulations were introduced by the President in May 2000.

"Ariyathas Vijayakumar, a married farmer from Soosaiappar Lane, Veppankulam, had gone with another person to a neighbouring village to collect money in payment for rice paddy. They were stopped at Kulumaddu junction by two men dressed in army uniform. Ariyathas Vijayakumar was taken into custody and his current whereabouts remain unknown," said Amnesty.

"Shanmugasundaram Suyanthan, a student from Varikuttiyoor, was arrested while on his way to Kurumankadu to attend a computer course. Witnesses said he was taken away blindfolded by soldiers on motorbikes. Neighbours reported that three days later about ten soldiers arriving on motorbikes ransacked the family home," Amnesty said.

"Relatives of both men have reported their "disappearance" to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. The army has denied their arrest," Amnesty added.

In another statement issued last week, Amnesty International said that two other Tamil men reportedly arrested by SLA soldiers in Vavuniya have "disappeared".

The statement said the whereabouts of Velupillai Tharmalingham and Ponnusamy Sivakumar are unknown since they were arrested by the Sri Lanka army on August 10 and 13 respectively.

"Amnesty International is concerned that wider powers given to the security forces under the new regulations and the removal of several earlier safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention may have contributed to the increase", the organisation said.


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