Author’s Note: The Sunday Leader for which this article was written as part of my weekly column wanted this rewritten to be about the Federal Party or another topic because “these are yet allegations, [and] it would be unfair to print such.” However I wrote this because the army’s sexual abuse is now well beyond allegations and backed up by affidavits and medico-legal documents. Untruthful witnesses do not scar their vaginas and anuses or their bodies with whips and cigarettes to sound credible. Indeed, The Economist in the article “Sri Lanka and its Critics: Bloody Secrets,” of 26.02.2013 declares the HRW report to contain “clear evidence of atrocities and abuse.” I am therefore releasing this to web-newspapers. I do so with a little fear and trepidation, however, because I have been particular to have my articles printed in Sri Lanka first in the open literature (which is subject to defamation challenges) before they appear abroad so that I cannot be accused when I return home like the HRW witness YJ below of “doing propaganda against the government and security forces” abroad.
Yet I fully support the Sunday Leader editorial team as they try to say the little they can at immense bodily risk to themselves, at a time when space for a free press rapidly closes in Sri Lanka. When it is the editors who are risking death as journalists are killed and President Rajapaksa predictably goes through the motions of ordering investigations that go nowhere, the editors must not be challenged
Omens for Geneva
The omens for accountability through Geneva are good. Navaneetham Pillay spoke of massive wartime violations. New evidence of war crimes emerged. The Indian High Commissioner, asked for a positive Geneva vote, reminded Tamils that Indians have hearts. Dr. Manmohan Singh assured coalition leaders of India’s vote for the US resolution. Cautious Indian newspapers are suddenly publishing war-crimes evidence. India took a stronger stand on Sethusamuthiram, asserting its views over Lanka’s.
HRW released its report “We will Teach you a Lesson”: Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces, detailing 70+ victim accounts from 2006-2012. It gives substance to the numerous stories from Vanni friends of rape and disappearances by an army that systematically demanded bribes for release and coerced confessions. It is confirmed through medicolegal reports on scars, cigarette burns and psychiatric and medical exams. There is consistency with Channel 4 pictures of naked dead girls like newscaster Sivapriya being handled by soldiers.
The report gave insight into the Lankan penchant for perversion and proclivity for sodomy evident in our boarding school. This week Minister Sirisena’s son and 13 drunken friends in gay abandon exposed themselves to women and photographed themselves naked in Pasikuda. A DIG’s son, Waidyalankara, objected to his wife appearing in photo-background and was brutally attacked by young Sirisena who claimed, said Waidyalankara, to be the next Prime Minister’s son. The Daily Mirror’s “naked,” The Island reported as “scantily clad,” showing how our press is soft on the powerful.
Murder, Rape and Buggery
HRW exposes our armed forces as beastly perverts. ST aged 50 and her daughter surrendered in Matalan in March 2009. With twenty women ST and daughter had to strip and walk before children and in the children’s presence were raped for over 2 hours. Then a naked boy and girl were forced to hug each other and shot dead. The remaining boys and girls were separated and taken away. ST heard “screams, wailings and shootings continuously.”
The testimony of ZS who was sodomized in Vavuniya and driven to Colombo after paying Rs. 200,000 bears similarities to the story of my friend who was arrested and, upon payment of Rs. 200,000, released with a letter from the Vavuniya Police saying he had been cleared and then driven to Katunayake where he was given a passport with an Indian visa and ticket to Madras. My friend was deposed for his evidence.
Such bribes, once to a brigadier, to secure release are a common feature in most accounts. TH of Kelaniya (28), the Sinhalese girlfriend of a suicide bomber, had to pay Rs. 2 mn. KN (30) got out bribing the EPDP which often liaised in bribing, and smuggled sodomized-DB out of the country. RS (27) of Vavuniya was arrested twice and got out bribing the CID twice. EN (28) bribed officials through PLOTE.
MJ was detained from May to July 2008, tortured and raped. She delivered in March 2009 making evident where she conceived. YT (22) of Vavuniya conceived but miscarried.
Former LTTE Females IR and KI (both 29) studying abroad had similar separate experiences. Arriving at Katunayake in early 2011 they were arrested and raped in custody. Obviously the army has good intelligence. YJ (36) visited the UK for a conference and on her return was questioned at the airport, subsequently white-vanned, accused of “doing propaganda against the government and security forces,” abroad and raped. TJ who finished his studies in the UK, returned to be white-vanned and sodomized, and then bribed out. There are other students abroad who visited and were white-vanned and sodomized. OP of Puthukudi-iruppu was arrested at the airport when he went to receive his uncle. He was tortured by the police but sexually abused by guards and fellow-prisoners in Boosa.
Some rapists are known but their names are withheld such as the Dehiwela Crimes Branch Officer who repeatedly took a 26 year old male to his room at the police station and raped him.
Ragging and Army Torture
Surprising are the similarities between army torture and student ragging. Is this deviant behavior then intrinsic? As Freshers at Katubedde from Dec. 1970 we underwent the following from Sinhalese raggers: minty SR toothpaste on the genitals resulting in intense burning, testicles squeezed, those wearing rings forced to place theirs on their penis resulting in erection which makes removal and micturation difficult, and all of us standing outdoors stripped in the moonlight while homosexual seniors, also naked, came and put their genitals against ours while masturbating themselves. The lightest skinned boy among us was kept in their rooms for three weeks.
Now the HRW accounts: crushing the penis with bare hands, groping during interrogation of men and women, Vicks balm on genitals, and inserting metal balls into the penis and making micturation painful (confirmed by surgery to remove the objects). Like the boy kept for three weeks, a Vavuniya Brigadier kept in his room for three months a young breast feeding mother, squeezing her lactating breasts and repeatedly raping her after tying her hands to the bed and burning her breasts and inner thighs with cigarettes.
HRW also describes anal intercourse and poking bottles into the anus, forced oral sex with and masturbating the interrogators, and having buttocks bitten.
Federal Party: Disarray?
With Geneva in backdrop the FP held its Central Committee meeting at the Bambalapitiya home of Thavarasa (23rd 9:00-3:30). Thirty-five members were sumptuously fed. Leader Sampanthan seemed to agree that he would go to Geneva but some Federalists were taken aback to read in Suresh Premachandran’s interview in Ceylon Today that the TNA decided under Sampanthan the previous day that the delegates would be MPs Premachandran, Sumanthiran, Senathiraja and Sridharan, and had already sent letters on intended meetings to Geneva. Federalists questioning were told it is true because of Sampanathan’s eye surgery, but they took comfort that Sumanthiran and Senathirajah would be articulate and cannot have their record questioned. However, the latest Colombo reports say that MPs Sampanthan and Sumanthiran are in London at the GTF Conference on their way to Geneva and Ariyanethiran, MP, is also going. Something strange went on.
The Colombo meeting marked the transition of the FP from provincial to national party. There was a call for getting the word Eelam out of FP vocabulary, to diminish the influence of the diaspora because of its different needs, to focus on information gathering and dissemination, and to emphasize the role of the membership and the party as an organization rather than being leadership centred. Further to the latter two, it was decided to a) begin a think tank under retired northern provincial secretary Rangarajan (BCom Peradeniya, MSc from the Philippines), a non-party technocrat, who had been denied an extension because of his impartiality; and b) seek Sinhalese members in addition to Muslims who were once party stalwarts.
Regarding the registration of the TNA, the FP seemed of the view that it was a priority only for the EPRLF and PLOTE whose cadre dare not contest under their symbols because of their past. Declaration of assets and accounts need to be filed soon to avoid cancellation of FP registration. The Islands Branch, nonfunctioning because of EPDP obstruction, caused consternation. There was some sideline discord over hostess Gowri Thavarasa being the UNP Assistant Treasurer, and concern over the leadership increasingly resembling a home for the aged without new faces.
PC North Elections, government says will be advanced to August from the announced September. Douglas Devananda is confidently asserting that he will be the government’s candidate for CM. Given his unpopularity the FP, suspecting fraud in the works, wants to ask for outside observers.
PM Jayaratne: Evil Pope
As Tamils saw the importance of working with other minorities and Jehan Perera called for the disinformation campaign against Muslims to be countered, the Bodu Bala Sena claimed that all Sri Lankans should act as “unofficial policemen” and do our part to protect and preserve the Buddha Sasana. We non-Buddhists have no choice. The Kegalle Mosque has been attacked by Sinhalese extremists. In Matara three Muslim school girls returning from evening tuition on 27.02.2013 in head-scarves were beaten up and warned not to cover themselves with Hijab or Abaya, or complain to the police. The TNA is to take these up in Geneva in solidarity with Muslims.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Jayaratne has in Parliament described His Holiness the Pope as an “epitome of enormity” (The Island, 21.02.2013).Dictionaries define enormity as intense evil, outrageous. Assuming that a PM uses words learnedly in Parliament, this is an outrageous insult to the leader of over a billion Roman Catholics. Jayaratne could not have ignorantly used enormity for enormousness because the Pope is slim and neither a giant nor overweight.
Bad Omen for Rajapaksas
The Lankan Geneva team seems disoriented. Samarasinghe was named leader at the last minute making him ill-prepared. Team members Buwaneka Aluwihare, Janaka de Silva and Nerin Pulle are accused of violating financial regulations by pocketing their US$400 daily batta for hotel, staying instead with friends. If so they would spend time travelling instead of meeting delegates and reading for the next day. Lankan Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha objected in writing to UN plans to screen the third Channel 4 documentary. But his arguments seem weak after the way Sri Lanka screened “Lies Agreed Upon.”
The accusations against the Rajapaksas go well beyond command responsibility. US Ambassador Butenis’ cable of 14.12.2009 recounts her lunch meeting with Karu Jayasuriya and Sarath Fonseka that day where Fonseka’s accusations of orders to shoot surrendering LTTTE-ers were discussed, confirming that Fonseka did make the accusations in The Sunday Leader (13.12.2009). Since those accused tend to deny, an inquiry is appropriate – a necessity to redeem the Sinhalese’s reputation by ridding the army of brutish perverts.
The omens for the Rajapaksas seem bad indeed.