While welcoming the verdict of the Vishwamadu military rape case delivered by the Jaffna High Court, Women’s Action Network (WAN) says another case that is to date pending the judgment.
Former president Chandrika Kumaratunga appointed a special commission to investigate the gang rape of two Tamil mothers on March 19, 2001 in Mannar.
Mannar rape case they identified three police officers and nine navy personnel as perpetrators. During the latter part of 2006, the case was taken up at the High Court, Anuradhapura. The Attorney General’s Department decided it would be counterproductive to take up the rape case, and amalgamated the two cases into one and tried it as a torture case. In 2008 the case hearing was stopped on a stay order by the Court of Appeal as one of the victim went missing. The other woman was forced to flee the country due to threats to her safety.
Issuing a statement the north based 8 women’s organisations (WAN) called upon the President to set up a special mechanism to ensure all reported cases of sexual torture and sexual violence are investigated swiftly and in gender sensitive manner.
We publish below the statement in full;
Women’s Action Network welcomes yesterday’s (6th October 2015) precedent setting verdict of the Vishwamadu military rape case (case no 1569/12 ) delivered by the Jaffna High Court. We salute the courage of both victims, especially one of them who pursued the case in-spite of physical harm, intimidation, insults and harassment since she registered her complaint on 14 June 2010. Her tenacity in the midst of personal ordeal and structural obstacles placed against her and her family members while she pursued the case needs to be lauded, as it provides hope not only for many other women who have filed cases of sexual abuse against the military but also the scores of women who continue to suffer in silence. It also highlights the structural obstacles that are placed on women when are seeking justice even in a post war context.
Case Details: Women A and B faced several displacements due to the war and have suffered loss of family and property due to the brutal war that ended in 2009. Both women returned from Manik Farm (a Vavunia based mass IDP camp) in June 2010 to their land in Vishwamadu, Killinochchi once the land was ‘cleared’ for resettlement. The women and their children were clearing their land when four soldiers of the Sri Lankan Army visited the site. Realizing that the women were without male family members the military went back to the camp, came back the same night and assaulted the women and children, and subsequently went on to rape A and sexually abuse B. When victim A complained regarding the rape, she was asked by the police to first complain to the military. During her complaint to the military, Victim A was offered money to stay silent about the attack. Victim A refused the money and requested that the complaint be registered and investigated. She was then kept in military custody until the police arrived and accepted the official complaint. On 14 June 2010 at an identification parade held in Killinochchi magistrate court both victims identified the four military men as Corporal Danushka Priyalal Ratnayake, Pathinaratne Bandaranayeke Priyantha Kumara, Pandithagethera Shantha Subasinghe, Delgolelage Dunushka Pushpakumara belonging to the 572 Brigade. On 19th November 2010 the four accused military men were released on bail and the fourth soldier absconded and continued to evade arrest. He was therefore tried and sentenced in absentia.
Yesterday, in a hallmark judgment, the Jaffna High Court sentenced the soldiers each with 20 years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI), and ordered the payment of compensation of Rs. 500,000 and fine of Rs. 25,000 for the gang raped victim. In the case of failure to pay the compensation they will serve two more years of RI. Failure to pay the fine will result in an additional year of imprisonment. In the case of sexual assault, the court sentenced the 4 soldiers to a 5-years RI coupled with Rs. 100,000 as compensation and a fine of Rs. 10,000 each. In the event of failure to pay the compensation one more year of RI and an additional year of imprisonment will be imposed if they fail to pay the fine. The judge went on to state that each of the convicted will serve a sentence of 25 years and an additional 5 years if they fail to pay compensation to the victims.
At this point, we also want to highlight yet another case that is to date pending judgment irrespective of the fact former president Chandrika Kumaratunga appointed a special commission to investigate it; the gang rape of two Tamil mothers on March 19, 2001 in Mannar.
It is not easy for ethnic minority women to stand up against armed men and demand justice but in this gang rape too women did come forward even at the risk of being killed. In the above mentioned Mannar rape case they identified three police officers and nine navy personnel as perpetrators. During the latter part of 2006, the case was taken up at the High Court, Anuradhapura. The Attorney General’s Department decided it would be counterproductive to take up the rape case, and amalgamated the two cases into one and tried it as a torture case. In 2008 the case hearing was stopped on a stay order by the Court of Appeal as one of the victim went missing. The other woman was forced to flee the country due to threats to her safety.
In the past WAN has handled several cases of this nature where women who were raped, tortured and have even been murdered by security personnel. Due to threats against their own personal safety and the safety of their family members, women have refused to file official complaints regarding such accounts of sexual violence and assault. The pressure tactics of the military has exacerbated delays in case proceedings and the harassment of victim women continue unabated thereby preventing the women from seeking justice through the Sri Lankan judicial system. The recently released Investigation On Sri Lanka (IOSL) report by High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al-hussein clearly set outs the structural and systemic manner in which the rape and sexual torture of men and women was conducted by the armed forces and police of Sri Lanka. The recent case in Killinochchi where a mother whose baby accidentally died was detained and sexually tortured by police officers, including the insertion of pole inside her vagina, highlights the systemic nature of sexual torture and violence.
There are many more women like the women in Vishwamadu and Mannar who suffer in silence and bear the scars of such brutal crimes while their violators enjoy amnesty and continue to commit such grave crimes against women. These crimes are not committed by the military alone but also by various government officers, politicians and people in power, reflecting the level of impunity that exists within State apparatuses. In such cases, the police often refuse to file a complaint, refuse to arrest or investigate and ensure that the case is prolonged. Hence, often justice for women is not only delayed and denied but remains blind and insensitive.
We are fully aware of the fact that sexual harassment and assault, torture, mutilation, rape and murder are not mere misfortunes of armed conflict, but strategies that have been used against women for the purposes of keeping minority communities subservient, spreading terror, destabilizing societies and most importantly entrenching patriarchal power. Sexual violence against women cannot end overnight and the government in its human rights action plan and upcoming policies must take progressive steps to create awareness within society while promoting women’s equality and justice for all.
The Sri Lankan government, the Police department and the Attorney Generals department must take immediate action to end the impunity against sexual violence, especially in cases where state officials are the alleged perpetrators.
WAN also wishes to highlight that we do not endorse the death penalty for this crime as has been articulated even by the head of the State. We strongly believe in the right to life and demand that the justice and law enforcement system work in an efficient manner and urge a process of gender sensitization be implemented. We also demand that the sentencing adhere to those set out in the Penal Code, that the Attorney Generals department ensure such cases are dealt within a gender sensitive structure and in a speedy manner. As a network of ethnic minority women who have lost loved ones due to the brutal war, we reiterate the value of life, even of perpetrators.
WAN notes with dismay the insensitive manner in which the media has reported on or dealt with cases of sexual violence against women; for example their reporting regarding the Vishwamadu rape case victim in the aftermath of this verdict. Often the media has refused to print cases that have implicated the Sri Lankan Military or State Actors and in instances where they have, the reporting remains gender insensitive. Rape and sexual violence remain a highly stigmatized form of violence and we ask the media to respect the privacy of the women who have undergone tremendous physical and mental torture and have fought courageously and received justice.
We also call upon the President to set up a special mechanism to ensure all reported cases of sexual torture and sexual violence are investigated swiftly and in gender sensitive manner. Further, we request the prosecution is expedited while an immediate revision in the penal code is undertaken to ensure victims of sexual violence perpetrated by State actors are provided compulsory compensation. Finally, we urge the government to make rape and sexual torture and violence non-bailable offences at least until the non summary proceedings conclude.
*Women’s Action Network is a collective of 8 women’s organisations that are working in the north and the east.
BBS Rep / October 9, 2015
Words do not suffice to describe the courage of these two women who came out to report the case of rape.
We must also not make blanket statements that such vile crimes are being committed by the military and police with impunity. The Viswamadu military rape case is a point of fact that some good still remains in the thrice blessed country (sic) of ours. Well, I hope that all rape and torture cases are investigated expeditiously and more and more women come out of their self imposed shame syndrome to report their ordeals and point out the perpetrators.
Burt / October 9, 2015
“Mannar rape case they identified three police officers and nine navy personnel as perpetrators. During the latter part of 2006, the case was taken up at the High Court, Anuradhapura. The Attorney General’s Department decided it would be counterproductive to take up the rape case, and amalgamated the two cases into one and tried it as a torture case. In 2008 the case hearing was stopped on a stay order by the Court of Appeal as one of the victim went missing. The other woman was forced to flee the country due to threats to her safety.”
Its not just the criminals that have brought disrepute to Sri Lanka, it is also the racist public servants who are a disgrace as professionals.
Vetmahadeva / October 9, 2015
Military Rape Cases: No Judgement On 2001 Mannar Gang Rape: WAN
This article should be an eyeopener, for the Maianstry of Defense and hence The President Maithripala Srisena, Prime Minister, Reconciliation Committee headed by Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaranathunga and for the Minister of Resettlement. Apart from being an eyeopener contends of the article clearly stem-out sound warning regarding the origin of the present day weaknesses of the entire society of Sri Lanka the increasing child abuses, emancipated by the abuse of woman at the outset. Systematical Impunity, to crimes of entire sections of the Defense as a strategy to keep the minority communities subservient through spreading terror, destabilizing societies and most importantly entrenching patriarchal power. Thus providing criminality to span out to entire Sri Lanka where an effective abating system. Above all victims’ mind set would not settle for reconciliation, while the Defense personal occupation in the North & Eastern provinces is in maximum and spanned out.
Vetmahadeva / October 9, 2015
Phrase “Not in place” is not in place, pardon me
Military Rape Cases: No Judgement On 2001 Mannar Gang Rape: WAN This article should be an eyeopener, for the Maianstry of Defense and hence The President Maithripala Srisena, Prime Minister, Reconciliation Committee headed by Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaranathunga and for the Minister of Resettlement. Apart from being an eyeopener contends of the article clearly stem-out sound warning regarding the origin of the present day weaknesses of the entire society of Sri Lanka the increasing child abuses, emancipated by the abuse of woman at the outset. Systematical Impunity, to crimes of entire sections of the Defense as a strategy to keep the minority communities subservient through spreading terror, destabilizing societies and most importantly entrenching patriarchal power. Thus providing criminality to span out to entire Sri Lanka where an effective abating system is totally absent.
Above all victims’ mind set would not settle for reconciliation, while the Defense personal occupation in the North & Eastern provinces is in maximum and spanned out.
MP / October 9, 2015
In the island of Punguduthivu, Kannaki Amman Kovil priest’s daughter Sarathampal was gang raped and killed by the Army from the camp nearer to the temple. In another incident a student named Tharshini was raped and killed by the Army. Local people protested in front of the Army Camp and a shop keeper called Nathan was leading the protest. After a few months Nathan was shot to death in front of his shop by the Army. People of this Island remained silent therafter.
These type of barbaric crimes have been committed by the state armed forces in each and every village, largely in the Eastern Province. Who will bring relief to those victims and their families? Can we expect justice from the governments ,whether UNP or SLFP , that support rouges thieves and rapists?
Senthil / October 9, 2015
It is no point in investigating each and every case by srilankan judiciary and it will never provide a sensible justice, 25years jail term could reduce to few months. I think all the violations to be recorded and used to bring a long lasting political solution with the help of UN to stop these type of crimes happening in the future. Punishing the criminals is not useful at all to Tamils. The damage done to Tamils is irreversible and it is beyond repairs and need to be rebuilt using dead people. Unfortunately British gave the garland in Monkey’s hand.
alex / October 9, 2015
Judging by the women who have persisted to demand justice, despite military harassment and intimidation, it seems they would disagree – they do indeed want justice.
Analyst / October 9, 2015
Three cheers to Mrs Chandrika BK For the formation of this group called WAN to high light these pathetic state of these women who suffered in the hands of unruly armed men the politicians and the officials who were supposed to protect innocent men women and children needed to be exposed and punished.
As it was denied and counter denied by all connected and not connected to escape punishments still continues.
Their denials still continues in the name of protecting the Tamils from the LTTE.
All concerned have escaped punishments for all these years while putting the blame on LTTE.
These services were sent there to ANNIHILATE THE TAMIL PEOPLE from the face of the earth.
Exactly as the last regime and its supporters intended to annihilate the Tamil Nation.
Bravery of these women highly commendable against all the odds .
I am sure these men women and children will be eternally greatful to CBK for seeking help on behalf of them.
Last regime was not a government for the people of SL , but now it shows all for their Lust and greediness which destroyed our nations name and wealth around us.
Only the straight minded citizens can fight for this land to get it from Total Annihilation of the Nation. I mean TOTAL ANNIHILATION OF SRILANKA.
There is a Latin Phrase such as ” Man Proposes but God Disposes.”
The supporters of The Evils Can still try to escape from their Sins committed , but escape from what and where?
It has happened with the last Regime , the same can happen to our Srilanka “The land not like any other…..”
Human rights violators are not all the so called brave war heroes but the Cowards who disregarded the humans and violated them and their rights.
We have to separate the two from the Heroes to Cowards who are still waging war on innocent men and women .
They cannot be called war heroes.
These Cowards needed to be punished under the international law, then only there can be trust , trusting another community in SL
Bensen Berner / October 9, 2015
It is rather heartening to see the slow return of the rule of law in Sri Lanka from the disgraceful days of the Rajapaksa regime when even paedophiles who had committed crimes on their own children were pardoned by the president.Bensen
Suffi / October 9, 2015
Unp firstly introduce the barbaric culiture in the east almost each and every family affected the succeeding pa government continued
Analyst / October 9, 2015
Suffiiiiiiiiiiii don’t try to pass the buck , are you apologising for the rapes and rapes related murders ? were you trying to say it was justifiable . ?
Come on You are not one of them I hope.
justice / October 9, 2015
The armed forces and police are and have been treated as ‘sacred cows’
by every government since independence, and have committed rapes and massacres of citizens from soon after independence – all are on record by the North East Secretariat Of Human Rights – NESOHR – and are available on the web for perusal.
More rapes are happening, but most victims do not complain.
Analyst / October 9, 2015
These brave women are alive today to tell the barbaric acts of the barbaric armed forces.
War does not mean free for all to take advantage.
The last GR !MR government made it all ok to finish off the men women and children of the Tamil Race by either destroy With bullets or destroy their women hood.
Disgraceful men they call themselves Buddhists and Sinhala Christians decendents of the past invaders.
This is what happens when you unleash uneducated barbarians to kill and rape women and children as they’re easy prey for these barbaric vultures.
Hope the investigations will make any difference in this barbaric Buddha land.
Leon / October 9, 2015
The commission of rapes and torture has desended to such a level, the Govt of Sirisena/Ranil should introduce the death penalty. Once the scum in the military and police have been done away with, then the Govt should think of abolishing it and introduce life imprisonment.
Piranha / October 10, 2015
The “war heroes” label bestowed on the SL military is slowly but surely being ripped apart by these revelations.
These are not new revelations but have been in the public domain from the start of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, revealed by the various HR organisations in the North & East. The successive governments brushed them under the carpet or simply ignored them.
The “war hero” mask is slipping rapidly to reveal the nasty face of the SL military.
Voice of Justice / October 13, 2015
We have experience of rapes and sexual assaults by Police and armed forces during 1971 and 1989 uprisings in the south.It was freely taken place in the north with the cover of the war against “Terrorists”There are stories of rapes by constitutionally elected kings family members and their supporters in the recent pass in the country.Most of the cases were suppressed by force some are due to cultural barriers.Rapists and the cold blooded killers( Minimaruvos) have became war heroes(Rana Viruvos) People scared to go against “Rana Viruvos” so that “Ranaviruvos” take the chance.They carry out the orders of the Southern Political leaders.They commit murders of unarmed civilians,rape,torture etc without any fear as there are southern leaders to protect them from punishments.The judicial system in SriLanke is highly deteriorated. People should learn to save themselves.The attorney Generals department is there to save culprits.Cases against thieves and robbers are being supressed.
Spam freebutterfly / October 13, 2015
This is something we need to look into. Its a shame. I am glad that the CTG has an article about this. WAN network’s job is to hire young girls from North and East to praise the founder. I have met few girls from this network. They are kept like puppets and they are trained for heroine worship . I feel sorry about how much these girls are misused while the people who are in higher positions of WAN network go to US and Europe to sell the stories of these innocent people to fill their stomachs in Colombo.
Why are you giving credit to this unethical movement when many have worked towards this issue?