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Sri Lankan police assault Tamil man after he asked for return of mobile phone

Sri Lankan police are alleged to have assaulted a Tamil man, after he asked for the return of a mobile phone that they had seized earlier this month.

42-year-old Pradeepan was admitted to the Mannar District General Hospital where he received treatment for his injuries following the assault and his family members have lodged a complaint at the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission.

Speaking to the media, the family said that two officers from the Mannar Police station had visited a home in Pallimunai in Mannar which Pradeepan was visiting to reportedly interrogate the owner. Upon seeing Pradeepan, the Sri Lanakn officers took both his mobile phone and motorcycle.

When Pradeepan visited the Sri Lankan police station in Mannar to ask for his belongings back on Tuesday April 1, they asked him to show proof of ownership of the motorcycle, which Pradeepan obliged to do. However, when Pradeepan asked for his mobile phone back, they began to assault him with a sharp weapon. 

“Many people were watching at the time, including a few police officers,” he said. “There was no inquiry conducted and neither did they give me my belongings back. They told me I could do as I wished.”

This incident follows a decades-long pattern of Sri Lanka's police abuse of Tamils. In January of this year, a Tamil youth who was recently released from prison in Jaffna had died mysteriously. 

In another incident in February, a Tamil student attached to the Jaffna University complained to the National Human Rights Commission after he was detained and tortured at the hands of Sri Lanka police in Jaffna. Relaying the incident Karunakaran Nithersen said that he was tied upside down inside a secret chamber of the occupying Vaddukoddai police station, and of how he was severely beaten by a gang of police officers who kicked his genitals and assaulted him.

Last year 25-year-old Nagarasa Alex, a resident of Sithankerni, Jaffna, revealed harrowing details of his torture, just hours before he was declared dead in November 2023. In the video shared by Tamil Guardian, Alex describes being waterboarded, having ropes tied to his elbows and hung, having his head covered with a bag filled with petrol, and being forced to drink alcohol. A post-mortem examination revealed Alex had sustained “multiple injuries”.

To date, no one has been held accountable for the killing of Alex or the ongoing torture and human rights abuses that the Sri Lankan state continues to perpetrate.

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