23 May, 2017

As Its President Dines With The Queen, Sri Lanka’s Torture Of Its Tamils Is Revealed

By Jerome Taylor

Jerome Taylor

Further evidence has emerged of the brutal treatment of Tamils by Sri Lankan soldiers during the closing stages of the country’s civil war. Video footage obtained by The Independent shows soldiers gloating over a pile of more than 100 Tamil corpses, including dozens of women who have been deliberately stripped of their clothes to expose their breasts and genitals.

The videos are part of a growing body of evidence which has emerged over the past two years – much of which was recorded by Sri Lankan soldiers – revealing how many Tamils were tortured, summarily executed and often humiliated after their deaths for the entertainment of their victors.

The latest footage – which was smuggled out of Sri Lanka by a man who used to work at an internet café frequented by soldiers, and passed to The Independent – emerged as thousands of angry Tamil demonstrators massed outside the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London yesterday in protest at a lunch hosted by the Queen, which was attended by Sri Lanka’s controversial President, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Angry chants could be heard as the Queen entered Malborough House off Pall Mall and organisers were forced to cancel a planned speech by Mr Rajapaksa following security concerns.

Tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and Tamil insurgents were killed in the final stages of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war, which ended in 2009 with the destruction of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam separatist group.

Human rights groups and the UN have produced evidence that both sides committed war crimes during the final stages of the conflict. But there has been particular criticism aimed at Mr Rajapaksa’s government, which has refused to hold any independent inquiry into Sri Lankan army atrocities despite compelling evidence.

The latest videos obtained by The Independent reveal how – even after death – Tamils were often treated with contempt by Sinhalese soldiers. The black-and-white mobile phone footage shows more than 100 corpses laid out on tarpaulins. Some of the male victims are clad in the striped camouflage worn by the Tamil Tigers but the majority are dressed in civilian clothes.

It is impossible to say whether the victims were combatants, civilians or both. Tamil Tigers were known to use civilians as human shields, while Sri Lanka’s army has been accused of deliberately shelling civilian areas as it pushed ahead with its final onslaught against the LTTE.

What is clear, however, is the special treatment reserved for bodies of female Tamils. While the majority of men are fully clothed or topless, almost all the women featured in the video have been deliberately stripped naked or had their breasts and genitals exposed. Within Sri Lankan culture it is considered deeply shameful for a woman to expose any skin that would normally be covered by a sari or clothing.

Previous footage has emerged of Tamil women stripped naked either before or after their death whilst human rights groups have continue to document reports of rape and sexual violence by soldiers. In one particularly well known example uncovered by Channel 4 last year, Sri Lankan soldiers took victory photos of the corpse of prominent Tamil news reporter Isaippiriya. In many of the shots she was naked and had her hands tied behind her back prompting concerns that she might have been raped before being executed.

Charu Lata Hogg, an expert on Sri Lanka at Chatham House, says the footage fits into a wider pattern of abuse meted out to Tamils. “There is credible evidence in the public domain which suggests Sri Lankan troops used degrading and humiliating behaviour towards both male and female Tamils, civilians and combatants alike, during the final stages of the conflict,” she said. “The UN goes as far as to say that the ‘screening process’ directly resulted in executions, disappearances and rape of some LTTE suspects.”

Despite the emergence of scores of videos shot by civilians and soldiers during the war, the Sri Lankan government has routinely denied that its forces were responsible for atrocities and claims that such footage is faked.

When informed of the new videos yesterday, President Mahinda’s spokesperson Bandula Jayasekara told The Independent: “This is a continuation of a famous fairy tale. These videos are an attempt to discredit the government of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s forces. These guys are masters of propaganda; they have been doing this for 30 years.”

But Vasuki Maruhathas, a London based solicitor who obtained the video footage from a client and handed it to The Independent, said she believed the footage was genuine. She said the video was smuggled out of the country because her client – who wishes to remain nameless – worked at an internet café which was often frequented by soldiers. He was regularly asked to back up their phones or download videos and photos so they could email them.

The Independent has viewed 32 videos and 26 photos that appear to have been taken by the same phone. Most show pictures show a pile of corpses at an unknown location whilst seven photos show what appear to be captured Tamil Tiger fighters handcuffed inside a bus. Some of them are children.

The footage appears to have been taken by female Sri Lankan soldier. Her voice and that of her colleagues, all of whom speak in Sinahalese, can be heard in numerous videos and seen two others riding in a military vehicle. The last video appears to show the solider back at home with her family.

“It would very hard for all of these to be a forgery,” said Miss Maruhathas. “It clearly tells a story of this female soldier.”

Asked why Sri Lankan soldiers might have stripped the women naked she replied: “There are clearly two possibilities. Either they were raped and sexually assaulted before they died, or they were stripped after their deaths. Only animals would do something like this”.

The Independent UK

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Latest comments

  • 0
    1
    queen and bukingham palace thak for your support and believe our HS M Rajapakse, our hero and hero of SL future generation who free our country from terrorists
  • 1
    0
    What an idiot Rajapaksa is, he went there to show he is good servant of the Queen, even her hub didn’t participate some functions due to sick, this man went all the way from here and got rubbish and all negative publicity to our country. shame on you MARA
    • 0
      1
      You LTTE DOGS KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!
  • 0
    0
    Those who talk (and quite rightly) about the torture by the Sinhalese should also talk of the torture by the LTTE!
  • 0
    0
    You mean the armed forces when you say ‘the Sinhalese’ don’t you? It is accepted that the LTTE also committed attrocities. BUT… the difference is that one expects that the Armed Forces (representing the Nation) have a higher moral code than a terrorist outfit???
    • 0
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      Davina, I have heard many a justification or atrocities before, but I have to say yours take the cake! That said, I’m also fairly sure you picked up your ingenious argument somewhere and just ran with it, so the question is, have you thought through what that argument represents and means? I am no supporter of any Sri Lankan government (present or past), or the Tigers, but I can confidently say, as long as people can keep coming up with ridiculous arguments like that you have put forward, there will always be opportunities for dictatorships and terrorism in this world. There is only one ‘War Crime’ in this world, and that is war! What is it that you want? The upholding of human rights and justice? Or just the vilification of the Sinhala people, and the continued instability of Sri Lanka? It clearly seems to be the latter, because if you had any interest in justice, or the wellbeing of the millions of innocent and peace-loving people in Sri Lanka, of Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher ethnicities, you wouldn’t make such shameful attempts to try and justify those atrocities committed by the Tigers. To demand justice, while so crassly trying to brush aside what is three decades of senseless killings, you must have little respect for yourself, and the intellect of readers here. But then, that is just it isn’t it? Your clichés are not aimed at those educated on human history are they? You are only interested in appealing to the ignorant masses, which of course the likes of you, and the likes of the Sri Lankan government, both have access to, and can manipulate at will, and call to war as you wish… For the sake of argument, please note that ‘government force’ or ‘terrorist’ or ‘freedom fighter’ or whatever you call them, an armed group of people trained to follow orders and kill should never be expected to be peaceful. Any such group, no matter how well trained (e.g.: Abu Ghraib) are severely mentally strained. It is therefore not a surprise that many soldiers who are ‘lucky’ enough to return alive from war, struggle to reintegrate into society. The sad reality is, soldiers, are just as much scapegoats in what is nothing but a game for the corrupt and powerful of this world. Thanks to people like you, who run with their lazy clichés, they will always have vehicles of ignorance to sustain their movements.
  • 0
    0
    It is almost predictable that this tape too, would be dismissed as “doctored”, and blamed on mean Western forces “out to get us”. There are good reasons why the rest of the world (okay not China) want answers to obvious questions, and if the government is not guilty of war crimes, as they continuously state, they should open any investigation. For those who keep harping that the LTTE committed atrocities too; the answer is, yes, they were ruthless in their methods, and their violence did not exclude their own people, but then you do not expect much from a bunch of murderous terrorists, unlike a legitimate army from a democratic country. We are supposed to adhere to higher standards, and protect innocent civilians who are unfortunately caught between the two waring sides.
    • 0
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      Panda, I can’t help but feel you are also dangerously close to justify the Tigers, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt, as you have gone on to make a fair criticism of their movement. My question is, how did the international community, and the various Sri Lankan governments, allow such a group to become so powerful and carry out so much destruction, over such a long period of time? Could it be that these international and national powers have a little something to gain from conflict in Sri Lanka? Call me cynical, but the hypocrisy that surrounds the conflict in Sri Lanka, and most other global conflicts for that matter, make me seriously question the will in this world to avoid, or eradicate war. I therefore don’t really see the use in appealing to the international community to help the situation in Sri Lanka. After all, where were they when the Tigers were running riot? For that matter, where were these masses of Tamil expatriates, who now suddenly claim to care so much for the Tamil population in Sri Lanka, when the Tigers were so openly abducting Tamil children, killing off opposing Tamil voices (e.g.: Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar), and chasing away Muslims from their land? So forgive me but I don’t believe the people claiming to want ‘justice’ are really interested in justice, rather a continuation of the conflict that they have all profited so much from, as the people they are asking for ‘justice’ from, are the people who provided the weapons and the necessary international environments for these atrocities to take place in the first place. In an ideal world, the UN will have a backbone, and uphold human rights for all, and these shameful hypocritical and inhumane acts that the international communities, the Sri Lankan governments and Tamil expatriate populations continue to carry out and justify will not be tolerated. Instead, what we have is one bunch of monsters calling another bunch of monsters ‘monsters’, and demanding those who funded and fuelled the monstrous atrocities of both groups of monsters to provide ‘justice’! What a load of nonsense!
  • 0
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    Why don’t the UN or any one take up the inquiry without beating around the bush. That show’s that, these reports are only to sling Mud, or they are made silented by some one. Only whan President go some where they keep shouting,Be mora strait foward. Inquire it or put it off.We will not belive any one untill that is done.
  • 0
    0
    Where is this LTTe suppoters when LTTe killed and raped hundred of civilion children and small monks ,they kill them by decapitating them.where were you so called LTTe jentalman?? do not talk about thousand killed in the battle fild,talk about the lifes saved after finish the war.durung a war specially when fighting with animals you have to some time practice animal metods,No Land minds and no tamils,singhalees get killed any more.

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