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US cable: SL paramilitary subjects Tamil women to forced abortions

Leaked United States Embassy cables have shed light on forced abortions that were carried out by doctors aligned with Sri Lankan paramilitary under the guise of regular medical check-ups.

The recently unearthed cable, written by Ambassador Robert Blake, discusses Sri Lanka’s complicity in paramilitary operations, which included extra-judicial killings, forced abortions, child trafficking and extortion.

Detailing the account of a Christian Father, the cable included details of the government allied paramilitary group, the EPDP, carrying out forced abortions on Tamil women with links to the LTTE:

"Father Bernard also told us of an EPDP medical doctor named Dr. Sinnathambi, who performs forced abortions, often under the guise of a regular check-up, on Tamil women suspected of being aligned with the LTTE."


Citing a Jaffna government agent, the cable also described how the EPDP, carried out assassinations:

"when the EPDP intends to kill a target, they first provide notice to the military.  The number of soldiers patrolling the streets of Jaffna (40,000 total on the peninsula) is such that there are literally soldiers stationed at every street corner.  At an agreed time, all of the soldiers in the designated area take a five to ten minute "break" at once (although the normal practice is to take breaks in shifts).  At that point, armed and masked gunmen, often riding on motorcycles, race down the street and assassinate the intended victim.  Shortly after the killing, the soldiers' break over, they return to their posts to deal with the aftermath. While police investigations are common, they almost never lead to arrests."


See below for full excerpt of the cable.



Allegations of government complicity in crimes committed by organized paramilitary groups have mounted in the last year.  Paramilitaries such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-breakaway Karuna group and Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) have helped the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) to fight the LTTE, to kidnap suspected LTTE collaborators, and to give the GSL a measure of deniability.  The GSL, which denies any links to paramilitary groups, has recently touted its efforts toimprove its human rights record, such as the re-publication of procedures on arrests and detentions and the appointment of a "One-Man Commission" to investigate reported disappearances (ref C).  However, these efforts so far appear aimed more at improving Sri Lanka's image abroad and have yet to produce concrete improvements in the human rights situation.  Outside the capital, the incidence of human rights abuses has continued, including extrajudicial killings, abductions, child trafficking, extortion, and prostitution.  President Rajapaksa's government, strapped for cash, has cut direct payments to paramilitaries initiated by former President Kumaratunga and instead turns a blind eye to extortion and kidnapping for ransom by EPDP and Karuna. While many of the charges against the government have been made in public for a, a growing number of trusted Embassy contacts, often at personal risk, have described in detail the extent of the GSL's involvement with paramilitary groups.

Working in concert with SLA soldiers stationed in the Jaffna peninsula, the EPDP is able to conduct extortion, abductions, extra-judicial killings and other criminal acts without fear of consequences, according to numerous sources. On April 20, Catholic priest Father Bernard (strictly protect) told us about EPDP's involvement in extra-judicial killings in Jaffna.  Independently, on April 24, Jaffna Government Agent Ganesh (strictly protect) confirmed much of Father Bernard's account.  He explained that when the EPDP intends to kill a target, they first provide notice to the military.  The number of soldiers patrolling the streets of Jaffna (40,000 total on the peninsula) is such that there are literally soldiers stationed at every street corner.  At an agreed time, all of the soldiers in the designated area take a five to ten minute "break" at once (although the normal practice is to take breaks in shifts).  At that point, armed and masked gunmen, often riding on motorcycles, race down the street and assassinate the intended victim.  Shortly after the killing, the soldiers' break over, they return to their posts to deal with the aftermath.  While police investigations are common, they almost never lead to arrests. Father Bernard also told us of an EPDP medical doctor named Dr. Sinnathambi, who performs forced abortions, often under the guise of a regular check-up, on Tamil women suspected of being aligned with the LTTE.