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Systemic torture and rape oppressing Tamils under new Sri Lanka government

New evidence has emerged of on-going torture and sexual violence by Sri Lanka’s security forces one year after the new government promised to end such violations.


A new report by the International Truth and Justice Project: Sri Lanka (ITJP) documented the testimonies of twenty Tamil torture survivors who had escaped Sri Lanka to four different countries.

The report provides harrowing details of abduction, torture and rape of Tamil men and women, with incidents as recent as December 2015.

The report found that the rape and torture was “widespread and systematic,” and that torture based extortion could be providing approximately US $50 million tax free money to perpetrators every year.

Highlighting the organised nature of the violations, the report concluded,

“These cases not only reveal that torture and repression continue in Sri Lanka but that they remain widespread and systematic. They are the work of a well-organised machine which continues to thrive within the Sri Lankan police and military fuelled by extortion. It is responsible for terrorising and oppressing Tamils. This is therefore not a question of a few rotten apples in the system, as the new government so often suggests, but rather the result of structures that have been corrupted.”

In light of the new government’s commitment to ensuring accountability, the report added that “in the current climate of impunity in which torture, sexual violence, intimidation and persecution are ongoing in the former conflict areas, it is unlikely that Tamil victims of torture and sexual violence at the hands of state forces will be able to participate.”

Deploring the ongoing denial of instances of torture and rape by the new government, the report added,

“The new government, if it is to be taken seriously, must deal immediately, decisively and conclusively with those in the security forces who continue to commit these serious crimes and/or undermine accountability. It is twelve months since the new government came to power: it is inexcusable that the government continues to deny ongoing torture and sexual violence in Sri Lanka or aver that they are unable to take action.”

Further witness testimonies reproduced below:

"Later that night an army woman came. They were calling me ‘Kotiya’ (Tiger) repeatedly. The woman tried to take off my clothes. I thought she was doing this because I would not let the men earlier look at all my body. I thought she was looking for scars. The man was in the room too. She removed my clothes except my bra and panties. I was crying. They were looking at my body and laughing at me saying things in Sinhalese. I was trying to push the woman away and she said "oossh, oossh" and started slapping me…the woman said something to the man and she left the room. He came up to me and tried to pull my bra and panties off. I was fighting and I was running around the room trying to stay away from him. I became exhausted and simply sat on the floor. He grabbed my hair and was slapping me and saying something in Sinhalese…I remember laying on the floor on my back and in a daze trying to get up but being held down by hands on my arms pinning them to the floor.”
(Witness 159)

The sexual torture involved touching me in places where they shouldn’t and they rubbed their private parts on my face and they ejaculated on my face. They used abusive words in Sinhala but I didn’t understand them but could understand from the tone. They also put their penises into my mouth and I was asked to bend in front of a table and they put their penises into my anus; they ejaculated inside my body. This happened many times to me. It was different men who did this to me. On every occasion two men were involved but this happened on many occasions. I bled a lot as a result of that. The torture was initially severe and at one stage I even admitted to their allegations that I was trying to regroup the LTTE and then the torture was slightly less. The sexual abuse continued nevertheless.”
(Witness 133)

Their penises were exposed outside their trousers. They had erections. They made me masturbate them. When each of them started to ejaculate, they forced my face to their penises and ejaculated all over my face and laughed at me, calling me ‘Kotiya’ (Tiger) and were smoking cigarettes while doing so…That night, the man who usually threw water on me while I was sleeping, came in to my room. I was in severe pain. He squeezed my penis and I screamed and he beat me. He wanted me to touch him. I refused and he started slapping my face then rubbed his erection on my face. He forced his penis in my mouth and moved it in and out like masturbating and ejaculated all over my face and left. The guard kicked the metal door all night and kept yelling ‘Kotiya’. This same conduct occurred every night thereafter. The two guards anally raped me on every occasion they abused me, which was every day. It was mostly at night but sometimes they did it to me in the afternoon.”
(Witness 142

See also:
Systemic torture and rape oppressing Tamils under new Sri Lanka government (05 Jan 2016)

Sri Lanka continues 'multifaceted assault of terror' on Tamils under new government (28 Jul 2015)

UN confirms existence of secret torture camps in Sri Lanka, calls on gov to reveal other possible locations (18 Nov 2015)

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