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Sri Lankan state terror - Tamil university student hung upside down and brutally assaulted

A Tamil student attached to the Jaffna University has complained to the National Human RightsCommission 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.

Nithersen said that on the morning of the assault he had stopped at a petrol shed before going to the university. Upon leaving the petrol station, a police officer who stopped him near the Vaddukoddai Mavadi area accused Nithersen of not stopping the vehicle earlier when he had signalled. 

Nithersen tried to reason with them saying that he had not committed any crime and even showed them the license and other documentation of this motorcycle. 

The officer had proceeded to call for reinforcement from the station. Together, eight police officers in plain clothes surrounded him and assaulted him on the road. Nithersen says that there was a recording of him being assaulted which was captured on a closed-circuit surveillance camera from a nearby shop. Nithersen also managed to take a video of them ganging up on him.

“They took me in the police jeep to the station where they led me to a secret chamber," he said. "They also took away my documents and both my mobile phone. When they asked me for the code to unlock my phone, I refused to give them. That’s when the beating started... They grabbed my legs, held me upside down, and began to take turns to beat me mercilessly.”

He said the officers targeted his genitals, where they kicked him and continued to beat him. At which point Nithersen was writhing in pain and had trouble breathing after a certain point. 

“They took me out of the room, handcuffed me, and left,” he continued. “When I came out of the station, three others who were detained inside also saw me being taken into this secret chamber. They would have heard my screams.”

Nithersen said he was certain the police wanted him dead because of how they continuously assaulted him. Nitherson has since filed a case at the Human Rights Commission over fears for his life and said he kept thinking of Nagarasa Alex who was also assaulted in a similar way by officers of the same station.

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”. The cause of death form issued by the office of the judicial medical officer found that there were “abrasions and contusions” on the “trunk, both upper limbs and both lower limbs”. Local Tamils have staged a protest at the funeral of a Tamil youth who was reportedly tortured to death by Sri Lankan police, demanding justice for his killing.

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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