21 October, 2020

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Scarred By Sri Lankan Torture

By Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon

”Kumar’s” scars are real and are only just beginning to heal – the result, he maintains, of four gruesome days of torture in a dark room, somewhere outside Colombo, barely two weeks ago.

”I thought I was going to die,” he says, before his captors allowed him to dress, then blindfolded him, and dumped him beside a road.

To the Tamil Refugee Council in Australia, the scars are proof that those suspected of supporting the defeated Tamil Tigers are still being persecuted in their homeland.

To the Sri Lankan government, they are a ”fabrication” designed to undermine confidence in a reconciled nation and give succour to those ”defeated terrorists” still seeking a separate Tamil state.

Tamil aslyum seeker 'Kumar' shows his wounds. Photo: Jason South

What seems beyond question is that Kumar, not his real name, was un-scarred when he left Melbourne in March to return to Sri Lanka to run the restaurant of a hospitalised uncle – and very badly scarred when he returned on April 11.

Kumar admits he accepted money to carry some parcels for the Tamil Tigers while working as a bus driver in Sri Lanka in 2006. He says he left the country two years later and entered Australia on a student visa before completing a course in cooking and being granted a 457 visa in January last year.

Twice, he says, he returned to Sri Lanka to visit family before his wife and three children were able to join him. Each time, he says, he kept a low profile, staying in the family home, and had no trouble.

This time, he suspects he was spotted by Sri Lankan intelligence officers while working front-of-house in his uncle’s restaurant.

He was riding home from the restaurant on a motor bike with his brother when they were intercepted. Kumar says he was bound, blindfolded and driven to a room and tortured for four days.

Early on, he says he saw a stove in a blood-spattered room, discarded women’s underwear and an iron bar in a bucket. The ordeal reached its climax on the fourth day, when he says his back was beaten with the scalding bar.

”They wanted me to admit that I’m a LTTE [Tamil Tiger] and I said, ‘No. How can I admit? I just delivered some parcels for some money’,” Kumar told Fairfax.

”On the last day I begged them not to kill me, [saying] ‘I’ve got family, I’ve got kids’. They showed me a blank sheet of paper and wanted me to sign.” He claims that 30 minutes after signing the paper, he was released by a roadside.

Now he is seeking asylum, saying he fears that his back injuries will prevent him returning to work at a suburban Indian restaurant – and leave him liable to deportation.

Sri Lankan high commissioner Thisara Samarasinghe said the story is ”exactly a fabrication for vested interest … if he has reasonable and admissible evidence, bring it up to the authorities and be assured [they] will treat it with absolute seriousness”.

Greens leader Christine Milne called on the federal government and Coalition to stand up to Sri Lanka ”end the cosiness of the relationship” with the country.

”Justice and decency demand Australia stands up to what has become a democratically elected dictatorship engaged in abuse of its people, particularly the Tamils,” she said in a statement on Thursday.

Senator Milne said there was increasing evidence of torture, persecution and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

”It is clear that instead of recognising that Tamils are leaving Sri Lanka to seek asylum because of ongoing persecution and white van disappearances, the Gillard government and Tony Abbott prefer to demonise the victims and not condemn the perpetrators.”

Michael Gordon– Political editor, The Age. This article appeared in Sydney Morning Herald.

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Latest comments

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    Micheal Gordon … yes.. they are real. Its there everybody to see. But, they have been horribly executed.

    Anyway, do not dwelve into it much without substantial medical evidence.

    In the meantime, enjoy what is in the packet for your troubles.

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    Michael Gordon

    Balachandran’s pictures just before the UNHRC sessions, and now “Kumar’s” torture picture on the eve of Commonwealth MAG meeting. Timing, Timing, Timing.

    A man who fled Sri Lanka in 2008 claiming his life was in danger goes back to help not someone in his immediate family (they are all in Australia) but his uncle. And the situation doesn’t sound dire. The uncle needs help to run his restaurant as he is sick and “Kumar’s” brothers who are still in Sri Lanka and are already helping him. What was the need for “Kumar” to take such a risk – if indeed the stories about continuing persecution of Tamils by the government spread by the LTTE rump is true? He could have simply sent some Australian dollars to hire local help. And for someone who is supposed to have come to Australia directly from Sri Lanka in 2008, he speaks good English. Further, neither your article nor the original ABC report tell us where exactly in Sri Lanka he was helping his uncle or where he was tortured and released. The story simply doesn’t add up.

    But one thing is clear. It is an urgent priority for four categories of people to reverse Australia’s current policy of sending Tamil asylum seekers back to where they came from: 1) Tamil asylum seekers, 2) human smugglers, 3) refugee industry in Australia and 4) the LTTE rump.

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      It is up to Kumar to decide whether to go or not go. The family ties within Tamil families are very strong. They even prepared to give up their life just to help their relatives. Australians will decide their immigration policies. Thousands of Tamils who were granted asylum status were vetted by the Australian government with the help of the Australian mission in Sri Lanka. If all these were false then the Australian High Commission would have advices the government of Australia not to grant asylum status. Australia is not Sri Lanka they don’t have a Chindanaya they have Laws justice human rights and democracy.

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        Australian Govt. are gullible for Tiger’s lies.

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          Isn’t it funny when Tamils wanted to seek asylum, they always wanted to go to North America, Europe, or Australia. Humm! makes me wonder!

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            when you are taking a risk, take a big one. What are the choices?India, There are thousands living there in camps for nearly 20-30 years who are not allowed to work. Cannot go to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma. Not sure of Malaysia. Singapore, I believe if you find work, probably you can live there. Same goes to Middle East. You can’t go to Africa, China. What is left. Only Western countries, if you really work hard you will reap the benefits there. So, stop wondering and get the monks to stop attacking businesses. if not, some more people will be in line to leave. I

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            What about the singaylese from JVP to the Singaylese economic ones- they lied!

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        Lanka (LTTE) Liar

        What is Chindana? Is it a name like Chandana?

        You are telling Sri Lankan how strong Tamil families are? We have been living in this land to understand about that well mate.

        As usual, this LTTE Kumar goon has fabricated another story to dsicredit SL.

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          Funny that. Just noticed your initials.
          Its silly how anything and everything is dismissed without any understanding.
          They might have problems mate but it is a known fact whether you choose to accept it or not, that Tamil families are indeed generally closer than Sinhalese.
          You may not be questioning Kumar’s story if you were born into his family. Be thankful that you have seen a better life for yourself. Sadly not all Sri Lankans have.

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    Show scars, then Tissanayagam, then Callum Rae and now Gordon,
    and a whole heap of guys & gals voicing for the sake of rewards & votes.I am aware you guys R milking the LTTE rump, steak, pudding, Fries ect.,But david Mili Banda got kicked in his teeth & left politics.
    But I say once and for all, take that CWC away from Sri Lanka.

    Assured it will not happen… as beggars can not be choosers…
    Under the table it will be egged on to be held in Sri Lanka with some outlandish statement to save FACE. This is Western rhetoric.
    With economy crumbling, Brittain in debt to their eye balls, unemployment escalating, the Pound weakening, Brittain would not mind her subjects earning some buckshees at the expense of someone who has it.
    Loosing a packet packet means a lot these days. Just a ten minute preparing can bring in a harvest if CWC is pulled out which is highly unlikely.

    Sooo… rest assured with all the hue & cry the Rajapakshes will have the last laugh…….

    Getting rid of Rajapakshes, leave it to us. We know how to get rid of them.
    But, I tell you why not keep them so that for you and the NGOs there is so much milk left to milk.

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      So for you :

      Accusing of Ltte rump, Tamil diaspora, NGOs and Imperialists – cheap excuses not seeing the gravity of the appalling levels of HR issues that the nation is facing today.

      Why not you guys cant be the adviser to donkey president and his bunch of thieves – showing coming colour is not good for the entire nation if the Mahadanamutta would rule the nation to ruin in this manner ?

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      BBS Chindanaya – not accepted anywhere in the world. Try Pakistan they may for a short time

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    The manner in which things are taking place, it won’t be a surprise whether Sri Lanka will be another Somalia in South Asia.

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    What a well constructed fable?
    Looking at the two sets of almost perfectly parallel ‘scars’ going across the man’s back, I could not but be reminded of Blake’s famous lines
    “Tiger, tiger, burning bright
    In the forests of the night
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry”
    Yes, the ‘scars’ betray a fearful symmetry, and the reference to the Tiger does not seem inapt.

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      Truth hurts. You have gone into a state of denial because of its crudeness and barbarism. Just close your eyes and pretend that it never happened. The world is alarmed that in this era there can be such cruel barbaric human beings can exist. You know where. Sri Lanka needs a massive rehabilitation operations re re educate and civilize these people.

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        Sure, the truth hurts. But it seems these so called refugees don’t give two hoots to the truth. All they want is to stay in Australia!

    • 0
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      Fred:
      Does it take a particularly deranged mind or is it just the pay you get that drives your crudities?

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        I don’t know what crudities you are talking about but these frauds are taking mean advantage of Australia’s compassionate and generous heart!

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    Mr Gordon I hope you are an intelligent man, but I wonder what kind of intelligence is needed to be a political correspondent – apparently not a very inquiring or deductive mind. Did you not notice the glaring discrepancies between the stories that you have related here and that of Heather Ewart of ABC? In her report he says he was released after paying a $20,000 ransom by is rich (but sick) uncle, where as in your report he was released after just signing a blank sheet of paper! Considering that your report was done after hers, I believe at the least you have an obligation to your readers to question this man on this important disparity in the stories. Or did he think $20,000 is a bit too much and left that part out in your story?

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      Uh oh. It’s coming down like a house of cards. Back then he was “branded” with hot irons, and today he was “beaten” (I do wonder how these torturers managed some of those angles while beating him – they must have had some supple wrists or some gymnastic ability!).

      The original ABC story also contained this line with a reference to a fictional (like much of the rest of this tale appears to be) province:

      Less than a week after he arrived in Gumbar province to manage his uncle’s restaurant

      At least someone at ABC was smart enough to change it to ‘home’ after running it through Google and realising they’ve been duped.

      The original is still available here and in Google’s cache:

      http://www.farmingahead.com.au/News/general/24/04/2013/186969/man-claims-rape-and-torture-upon-return-to-sri-lanka

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    The truth or otherwise of these alleged scars need to be verified. I know in many cases those claiming refugee status in Australia have come out with stereo type statements and even produced evidences which were suspect. As one who worked for refugee claimants in Australia I can say with authority that I have seen statements containing similar stero type stories from those from South Asia claiming refugee status in Australia. I have seen many stereo type statements from Nepalese claiming that they were running for their lives because they killed ‘cows’considered sacred by the Nepal Hindu Kingdom. Those from Bangladesh used to say they belonged to some political parties that were opposed to the party in power. At that time I believed these statements are ready made for these people by some unscrupulous Migration Agents. Australia’s Immigration Department had cancelled the licences of scores of such unscrupulous Migration agents who were found out. A colleague from Bangladesh once told me how one person organised the videoing of a scene where a policeman was seen beating the person claiming refugee status in Australia and produced it in support of his claim.

    Almost all the Sri Lankans who are coming from Sri Lanka by boats are economic refugees. There is no doubt about it. I heard almost all young persons from Vaharai area in Batticaloa district have gone to Australia by boats. I have been told that most those who arrived in Australia by boats are from the Eastern Province and many of them have criminal histories. Mostly these were jobless young men who were involved in petty criminal activities or simply living on the support of their parents.

    Now with a favourable sympathic climate for Sri Lankan Tamils prevailing in Tamil Nadu many Sri Lankan Tamils living in refugee camps are taking the boat trip to Australia. Recently there have been several stories of would be refugees to Australia being arrested while attempting to take the boat trip to Australia. In the case of those Sri Lankans taking the boats from India they are mostly genuine refugees who were living in camps in India for years. These people might have had genuine claims for refugee status some years ago.They can return to Sri Lanka without problem as demonstrated by the return of hundreds of refugees from Tamil Nadu.

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      Whether it is true or false, these allegations has to be investigated. It is not the first allegation against this regime and there have been number of allegations of abductions, murders, ransom, tortures, white vans, attack on journalists, civilians, political opponents, mass scale bombings, shelling of refugee camps, no fire zones, hospitals, churches, libraries never been investigated in this country over the six decades.It is well known fact that Sri Lanka has the capability or willingness to allow impartial investigation into these allegations or accusations. This is why an international , impartial investigation should be forced into Sri Lanka in the interest of people of Sri Lanka including Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims.

      Dear Naga, It is a complete lie that the refugees returned Sri Lanka didn’t have any problems. Your conclusions not based on facts. It may appear to you that there is no problem but you don’t understand the real situation. Tamil youths in North East Sri Lanka are surrounded by a Sinhala Sri Lankan armed forces and the armed forces have taken over their jobs, their lands for cultivation and constant threat from Military and paramilitary. They cannot peacefully sleep in their homes. It is true and natural that every human being is looking for better life and those who were denied their livelihood in their homeland taking refugee in other countries are not economic refugees as you describe.If you go and see the development works going on in the North and East, you will see 99 per cent of the employees are Sinhala speaking. For you it is development,for a tamil it is lost opportunity.

  • 0
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    Yeah right….

    The horrible torturers decided they wanted to be artists whilst they tortured poor Kumar for what ??? Note the symmetrical layout of the hot rods. And all they wanted was a blank piece of paper with his signature? Surely SL torturers can forge Mr. Kumar’s signature on any piece of paper.

    And, can someone please figure out who this uncle of his is. That might be more revealing. People like Kumar have done all kinds of things to get residency overseas even if it meant scarring themselves for life.

  • 0
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    Looks fake!

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    In 80’s ltte tamils used to cut their drug mules tongues so that they could not talk.. There were few cases in Italy, France and UK.

    Now to post 2000, these so called refugees that came to Australia suddenly getting their just deserts since Aust give. is beginning to feel how these racketeers are operating. I myself briefed few Aust. federal ministers re. their MO.

    This guy’s injuries are superficial and done by one of his mates to show that he is tortured… Aust. govt is not buying this and only paid agitators or idiotic reporters are on to this racket.

    Yes, we do have so many Aust. into corrupt practices and we have one here already.

  • 0
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    Gordon……. did you witness the Avurudhu Mela outside the great Hall in London where the CMAG Tag Team 8 met?
    It was a beautiful sight. Biard from Keneda having under cut those on the outside from the INSIDE come out to break bread later with those on the outside………. It was a beautiful BACKSTAB. ….it was IN A KIND OF A ‘HAGGIS’ style.

    Poor Kumar sacrred for ever. Hope he has been adequately compensated.

    Kumar’s uncle could be Suresh Premachandran or Sampanthan, or Rayappu or S.J.Emmanuel. It could be any one of them. Aney appochchi k’ooo?

    THIS IS WHAT ONE SAY – RETRIBUTION

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    Loss cause Michael Gordon…. and at least now get lost!

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    LTTE lobbies in the western capitals make it a point to cultivate influential journalists. It appears that Michael Gordon, who is the political editor of The Age, an Australian newspaper published from Melbourne, has come under the influence of the powerful pro-LTTE lobbies in Australia. These western journalists influenced by LTTE lobbists present lop-sided stories critical of the Sri Lankan government but seldom write anything about LTTE terrorists. This guy Michael Gordon had been carrying on with a campaign against the Sri Lankan government for some time now. He is on record calling for the boycott of the Sri Lankan cricket team’s visit to Australia. He has now gone to town with this torture story of a Tamil asylum seeker. If he had cared to do further research he would have come to know that the Australian Government has itself rejected the claims of abuse by a couple of failed asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka by the Australian Government.

    I wish to ask Michael Gordon whether he is in a position to challenge Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bobb Carr’s statement to ABC on Saturday that the complaints about human righs abuses of returned Sri Lankan asylum seekers could not be confirmed and there is absolutely no evidence of abuse of human rights.

    Here is the full statement of the Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr to ABC dateline program broadcast on Saturday in relation to claims of abuses by the Sri Lankan officials:

    “We have returned 1000 failed asylum seekers who had come from Sri Lanka. Four (4) of them have come to the [Australian] High Commission or gone public and expressed concerns about their treatment by Sri Lankan authorities after being returned. [They were] 4 out of 1000. When our High Commission in Colombo had investigated them, they found in 2 cases the allegations could not be confirmed. There is absoloutely no evidence of abuse of human rights. Two other cases are being investigated as the complaints were made recently.”

    Michael Gordon cannot be unaware the type of terrorism that Sri Lankan government faced over 35 years which ended only when President Rajapakse took decisive military action to end the trauma faced by Sri Lanka. Australia’s Foreign Minister himself says that Sri Lanka was subject to the most violent civil war which represented a trauma.

    This is what Senator Bob Carr said over ABC Dateline Program:

    “One has got to reemmber that for 3 1/2 decades that country [Sri Lanka] was subject to the most violent civil war. You got to remember that this represents a trauma. You got to remember there were abuses over those thirty more years committed by both sides. You got to remember there was an extremism about that civil war and the world tended to look the other way while it took place.”

    Instead of being a spokesman for the LTTE lobby in Australia, Michael Gordon should understand that isolating or boycotting Sri Lanka is not going to help the cause of human rights in Sri Lanka. His Foreign Minister very correctly identified what should be done in dealing with human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

    Foreign Minister Bob Carr outlined Australia’s policy and position in relation to human rights abuses in Sri Lankia in that ABC Lateline interview in the following emphatic words:

    “The concerns we have got about the human rights abuses in Sri Lanka are best met through engagement with that country and through the Commonwealth through using the extra leverage we will be enjoying in the countdown to the CHOGM Summit. I registered during my meetings with the leaders of Sri Lanka including President Rajapakse our concerns for a full settlement, a full accountability for the things that happened at the end of that civil war. Australia voted in the Human Rights Council in Geneva for the resolution that was carried on accountability, on human rights in Sri Lanka. Our view is that any suggestion of a boycott would be counter-productive. It would simply isolate the country and render it defiant of international opinion. The Secretary General of the Commonwealth and UN itself have registered that there have been improvements in the country. Our challenge is to keep the pressure on and to see that there are further improvements especially directed at reconciliation in the North. People who had been in the North have told me that they had seen former Tamil Tigers,that is fighters using terrorist means, now being rehabilitated, being employed, gainly employed, being reintegrated into that community. One’s got to remember when we talk about Sri Lanka there is no excuse of course for the persisting human rights abuses, for falling short of the standard the country itself has set. …. We will be there in the forefront of nations in the Commonwealth, in the world community, lookinhg for delivery on the bench mark standards Sri Lanka has itself set.”

    Senator Bob Carr is a very senior Australian politician who had been the Premier of Australia’s premier State of New South Wales for several years. After he stepped down as NSW’s Premier he was made a Senator of the Australian Federal Parliament and appointed by the present Prime Minister Julia Gillard as Australia’s Foreign Minister. He has the potential to become the Prime Minister of Australia if Labour Party is able to regroup and challenge the Liberal Coalition in three years time after the expected change of government in this September’s Federal Elections.

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