Detailing three years of torture by the Sri Lankan state, one man, referred to as Thevan, describes his horrific ordeal to Amnesty International.
Thevan, who worked near Vavuniya in the North-East, was abducted in 2008, and held without charge as an LTTE suspect, during which time he was repeatedly tortured. He was finally released in 2011 following a bribe paid by his family. Thevan said,
“The only reason I’m out of prison is because my family paid. I was kept detained to get money from my family. There was never an official charge. No attempt was ever made to investigate the abuses I suffered. We don’t feel we’ll get justice out of the system,”
Thevan's account to Amnesty International:
“I was blindfolded and with my hands tied behind my back. Sometimes our heads were banged against the wall or we would be kicked on our chests. Many times I was half conscious or would lose consciousness. When I would come back I would find people hitting me. They used to say: ‘You must accept that you are part of the Tamil Tigers and you must sign these papers’”.
“For three days we didn't know what had happened to us, they just beat us. No questions were asked, only beatings and torture. We were kept in the same place but in different rooms. I could sometimes hear my friend crying as he was being beaten up and he could hear me,”
“They were trying to push me to sign by holding a pen in my hand and putting the paper in front of me, but I refused to do that, and after that the beatings started increasing. Once they hit my head so hard the blood was pouring down my side and there was a crack in my skull. You can still see the scars now,”
“They would only take the handcuffs off when I had to go to the toilet and two police officers would come with me, and I had to leave the door open.”
In April this year, the US State Department highlighted the risk of torture and other abuses faced by Tamils. In its annual report, the State Department highlighted that "a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils."
The report went on to say:
"There were credible reports that police and security forces tortured and abused citizens. The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) allows for confessions from torture to be admitted as evidence."
"In the east and the north, military intelligence and other security personnel, sometimes allegedly working with paramilitaries, were responsible for the documented and undocumented detention of civilians suspected of LTTE connections. Detention reportedly was followed by interrogation that sometimes included mistreatment or torture. There were reports that detainees were released with a warning not to reveal information about their arrest or detention, under the threat of rearrest or death.
"Human rights groups claimed that some security forces believed torture to be allowed under specific circumstances. Several former LTTE combatants released from rehabilitation centers reported torture or mistreatment, including sexual harassment, by government officials while in rehabilitation centers. Police endorsed incorporating a full human rights curriculum and lesson plan developed by UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights into police training curriculum during the year."
Meanwhile, commenting on the possibility of the deportation of Tamil asylum seekers in UAE back to Sri Lanka, Bill Frelick, HRW's refugee program director said, "Sri Lanka’s treatment of Tamils they deem politically suspect is dismal," and that Tamil asylum seekers faced a "serious risk of torture and persecution upon return".
Last month, the UN Committee Against Torture, reiterated concerns regarding the risk of torture faced by Tamil asylum seekers who were deported, and called on the UK to halt deportations of Tamil asylum seekers.