20 May 2008
68 Tamil detainees, transferred from New Magazine prison in Colombo Saturday May 12 by the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), were verbally abused, tortured and subjected to sexual abuse at the notorious Boosa Prison in Galle.
Parents of the detainees have made complaints to Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian Chandrakanth Chandranehru, who expressed his shock and promised the parents to bring the matter to the attention of relevant quarters.
Sri Lanka's Commissioner General of Prisons, Major General (ret) Vajira Wijegunawaredena on Monday denied the allegation.
The TID interrogators stripped naked the detainees who were brought to Boosa, abusing them verbally and subjected many of the victims to torture, sexual harassment and sexual abuse, according to reliable allegations.
Mr. Chandranehru told media in Colombo he questioned the need for the intervention by the Terrorist Investigation Department while the cases of the detainees were being heard at the Courts.
Maj. Gen. (retd) Wijegunawardene who dismissed the allegation has said that the detainees were transferred to Boosa and Mahara prisons for "security reasons".
Tamil detainees in Welikade 'maximum security' prison and the detainees in high security Magazine prison (named Magazine as British colonialists used the facility for storing ammunition) have been repeatedly urging the Tamil parliamentarians to bring their concerns to the International Community.
They want the international community to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government to expedite their cases that have been postponed fortnightly and not been heard for more than a year.
They should either be charged with a crime or released, the detainees say.
Last October 86 detainees in Welikade prison launched a fast-unto-death and demanded the authorities to let them meet UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, who was visiting Sri Lanka on a fact finding mission.
The detainees called off the fast as Ms. Louise Arbour met five representatives of the detainees and promised to look into their plight. But nothing happened subsequently.
According to a research conducted by the London based Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (published in the British Medical Weekly of 10 June 2000) sexual abuse of Tamil male detainees was a common problem in the Sri Lankan prisons.
"Of the 184 men, 38 (21%) said they had been sexually abused during theirdetention. Three (7%) of the 38 said they had been given electric shocks to their genitals, 26 (68%) had been assaulted on their genitals, and four (9%) had sticks pushed through the anus, usually with chillies rubbed on the stick first," the study said.
Medico-legal reports written by 17 doctors supported the allegations of torture in Sri Lanka made by the 184 Tamil men. The study had defined sexual abuse as comprising assaults to the genitals, non-consensual sexual acts, and objects pushed through the anus.
19 Tamil Nadu fishermen tortured for 5 days
Nineteen Indian Tamil fishermen, including two 15-year-old boys, arrested by the Sri Lanka Navy in the waters of Palk Strait on May 9 were blindfolded, attacked and interrogated by the military for five days before being handed over to the Police.
Brought to Mannar Courts on May 15, T.J. Prabahkaran, the magistrate, allowed the Police application to remand the fishermen into police custody for another 7 days.
The fishermen who hail from Maanthoappuththeru, Thangkachchimadam in Ramesvaram district of Tamil Nadu said they were arrested by the Navy from their four fishing boats, blindfolded and taken to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
The Police said that the Indian fishermen were arrested between Kachchatheevu and the Sri Lankan coast.