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Eelam Tamils tortured by Russia in Ukraine

Photograph: Public Kharkiv

Several Eelam Tamils were captured by Russian forces in Ukraine and tortured for months, before finally being released earlier this month.

The group, made up of 6 men and 1 woman, were held captive by the Russian forces in Vovchansk during the occupation of the city. It was recaptured by Ukraine earlier this month.

A senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Daily News that the group were all Tamils.

"We thought we would never get out alive," Dilujan Paththinajakan told the BBC.

Photographs: Public Karkhiv, Suspline

The group were held captive for four months, and endured beatings, solitary confinement and torture – including have their toenails pulled out with pliers.

"They locked us in a room," said Mary Edit Uthajkumar.

 "They used to beat us when we went to take a shower. They didn't even allow me to meet the others. We were stuck inside for three months."

"They hit me across the body many times with their guns," said 35-year-old Thinesh Gogenthiran. "One of them punched me in the stomach and I was in pain for two days. He then asked me for money."

"We were very angry and so sad - we cried every day," Dilukshan Robertclive, 25, explained.

"The only thing that kept us going was prayer - and family memories."

Read more from the BBC here and Suspilne here.

In the past few years, Sri Lanka has deepened its ties with Russia. Throughout the economic crisis, Sri Lanka has been relying on Russian oil imports.

While numerous countries have condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Sri Lanka announced that it would not take sides in the conflict.

Previously, Russia has also come to Sri Lanka’s defence when questioned about its human rights abuses.

In March of this year the United Nations Human Rights Council discussed accountability processes for mass atrocities on the island. When several member states expressed concerns for the lack of progress on accountability, Russia countered these concerns. Russia claimed that Sri Lanka had made “considerable progress” on human rights and reconciliation.

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