By Ms S. R. –
Introduction. Given censorship and intimidation many journalists have fled Sri Lanka. (Several journalists have been murdered, perhaps the best-known of them being Lasantha Wickrematunge, Editor of the Sunday Leader, in 2009.) Colombo Telegraph, quoted below (https://www.colombotelegraph.com), is a “public interest” website run by Sri Lankan journalists in exile. Its internet-site of 13 September 2013 (under the caption ‘WikiLeaks: EPDP sold Jaffna children: girls to prostitution rings and boys to slavery’) highlights information that has come into the public domain through the WikiLeaks database. The information was given to the US Embassy by Mr Stephen Sinnavan Sunthararaj, Project Manager, Centre for Human Rights and Development. Abducted in Colombo in broad daylight on 7 May 2009, there is no news of him.
Clarification. EPDP and LTTE (Karuna group) are two Tamil paramilitary organisations collaborating with the Sinhalese government of Sri Lanka in return for power over their fellow Tamils . Under the former President of Sri Lanka, the EPDP received a financial grant. This was discontinued by the present government and so its leader, Douglas Devananda, extorts even more funds to maintain his private army. By all accounts, the situation of women has worsened: watch, for example;
Though the war is over and there is no threat whatsoever, the government maintains perhaps between 200,000 and 300,000 soldiers in the North and East. Most of these men are without their wives and families. Having uncontested power, they have impunity vis-à-vis the Tamil population. What is more, seeing all Tamils as former supporters of the Tamil Tigers, they are hostile and, worse, have contempt for them.
On the other hand, there is a shortage of Tamil men, many having been killed; many having fled abroad as refugees; some in detention. But even those who are present are powerless to protect the women of the house against the army and the armed EPDP.
According to information given to the US Ambassador, soldiers kidnap and rape Tamil women. Or they work through the EPDP which, being Tamil, has access to Tamil families, and uses that to win trust or, failing, resort to coercion. I cite from the Colombo Telegraph report: Sunthararaj’s story was partially verified by the Government Agent of the North, one Mr Ganesh, who stated that the EPDP works in concert with the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) to operate Tamil prostitution rings for the soldiers. Mr Ganesh stated that young women were forced to have sex with between five and ten soldiers a night. Sometimes, they are paid approximately a dollar for each “service.”
The women’s parents and relations are unable to complain to authorities for fear of retribution and because doing so would ruin the reputation of the young girls and women, making it impossible for them ever to marry. Besides, it would be like a lamb complaining to wolves about the behaviour of wolves.
It might be thought that the WikiLeaks information, though carried by Colombo Telegraph this month, is from a few years past. But going by reports received from family and friends, Christian priests in the area, volunteers and others, the situation is now much worse. Indeed, it is no longer “news”. You will appreciate that, particularly in a traditional society, where rape is concerned, families choose to remain silent; endure the catastrophe, cope with the pain and its consequences as best as they can.
I beg you: please “hear” their silent and distant cry, and help these helpless women.
Ms S. R.