An Appeal to
The United Nations
Sub-Commission on the Promotion and
Protection of Human Rights
Un appel à Nations Unies
Sous-Commission de la promotion et
de la protection des droits de l'homme
Una Ilamada a Naciones Unidas
Sub-Comisión para la Promocion y Proteccion
de Derechos Humanos
50 Session / Sesiones
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR
(Established in 1990)
* * * * * *
The Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR) would like to extend its congratulations to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of the United Nations - on the occasion of its 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights has stood as an example to the countries of the world, upholding the Articles set forth in its Declaration for the protection of human rights of all people, peace with justice and security.
Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR)
Le Centre Tamoul pour les Droits de l’Homme (CTDH)
9, rue de Peupliers
95140 Garges les Gonesse
Tel/Fax : 33-1-40 38 28 74
Established in 1990
website : http://www.tamilrights.org
Situation Report 5
Violation of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms
Injurious effects of anti-personnel mines 7
Economic, Social and Cultural rights 8
Fishing and Agriculture
Human Rights of Women and Children 13
Contemporary forms of Slavery 15
Land rights and property damage 15
Administration of Justice and Human Rights of detainees 17
Freedom of movement 18
Freedom of expression 19
Religious intolerance 20
Summary Report 21-33
(1) Extract from the report (E/CN.4/1998/68/Add.2) of 34
Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye
(2) Extract from the report of Amnesty International 35
(3) Sri Lanka uses food as a weapon against the Tamil population 37
(4) Welioya colonisation scheme 38
(5) Military growth of Sri Lankan security forces since 1994 40
(6) Points raised by Experts at the 18th Session of the Committee on 41
Economic, Social and Cultural rights
(7) Press release of the NGO "Peace Brigades International" 42
(8) AGOTIC appeal on Tamil children 43
(9) Evidence of a torture victim 45
3rd August 1998
The Honourable Mr. Chairman, Experts and Delegates,
50th Session of the Sub-Commission on Human Rights
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Dear Mr. Chairman and Hon. Experts,
We have the honour and duty, once again to bring to your kind attention, our latest report on the violations of human rights in the Island of Sri Lanka, on the occasion of the 50th session of the Sub-Commission on Human Rights.
In the past, we have submitted several reports to the UN Human Rights sessions. Ever since the armed conflict started in Sri Lanka, during the last fifteen years, this Sub-Commission and the Commission on Human Rights have heard enough interventions by various NGOs as well as by the Honourable delegation of Sri Lanka. The interventions made by the NGOs pleaded the Honourable members of the Sub-Commission and Delegates of the Commission to find justice and durable solution and to end the gross violations of human rights in Sri Lanka. On the other hand, the Sri Lankan delegation's interventions were all purely imaginary and tended to justify the atrocities, abuses violations of human rights by the security forces, especially in the North-East of the Island. When we look back at all the interventions made by the Sri Lankan delegation in the past, we can observe the testimony of genocide of the Tamils. The lack of initiative in sorting out the root cause of the problem in Sri Lanka is also quite visible and apparent.
The human rights violations continue to deteriorate and the intervention of this Sub-commission is urgently needed.
Sri Lanka was featured regularly in the local and foreign media on its human rights violations, including disappearances in the North-East. The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has made two visits to Sri Lanka in 1991 and 1992. Last year, the Working Group has reported that Sri Lanka has the highest number of disappearances for the year 1997.
Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiya - UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has visited Sri Lanka from 24 August to 5 September 1997. The report (E/CN.4/1998/68/Add.2) published on 12 March 1998 by Mr. Ndiya is highly critical of the security forces made of 99% Sinhalese.
Mr. Mr. Olara Otunnu - special representative of the UN Secretary General on Children in Armed Conflict has made a visit to Sri Lanka in May this year. The UN Special representative who had visited Jaffna, Maddhu and Vanni region has expressed his deep concern over the situation prevailing there. Mr. Olara told the media in Colombo that “I feel sad about the situation in Jaffna”.
Mr. Francis Deng - special representative of the UN Secretary General has also made a visit to Sri Lanka in 1994. His visit was concerned with the frequent displacement of refugees as a result of aerial bombardment and shelling in Tamil inhabited areas. (Report E/CN. 4/1994/44/Add.1.)
Hon. Sirs, Sri Lanka may be an exceptional country to welcome two Special representatives of the UN Secretary General, a Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial - summary or arbitrary executions and two visits by UN Working Group on Disappearances. Many NGOs like Amnesty International, ICJ have also made their visits and made reports which were shocking on the situation in Sri Lanka.
With all these interventions, concerns appeals of the UN and NGOs, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka has never improved. In fact, it is going from bad to worse and deteriorating.
Sri Lanka has the habit of giving vague and false promises and resorting to fiction in order to mislead the UN Human Rights Sessions and NGOs. In the past, the International community and the UN mechanism have been deceived by the government of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiya has accused in his report that impunity is widely practised in Sri Lanka by the armed forces. In order to deny this accusation, the Sri Lankan government which wield a lot of influence over the country's judicial system, has sentenced to death five soldiers accused in the Krishanthy Kumarawamy murder case. Our past experience on Sri Lankan create doubt that this death sententence will never be carried out, and there are more chances for these accused to get Presidential pardon. The death sentence is just an eye-wash to this Sub-Commission and other Human Rights sessions as well as to the International community. Time will prove this fact.
We do urge this Sub-Commission and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs. Mary Robinson to appoint a Commission to investigate into the unauthorised and illegal burial of several hundreds of bodies in Jaffna peninsula - Sri Lanka.
We do sincerely hope that the 50th Session of the Sub-Commission will consider all these facts and intervene directly in the form of a Resolution at least on the humanitarian situation in the North-East of Sri Lanka.
We take this opportunity to express our sincere felicitation on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
S. V. Kirubaharan
General Secretary - TCHR
THE SITUATION REPORT
13,000 DISAPPEARANCES IN EAST
Speaking at a seminar in Colombo Mr. Joseph Pararajasingam - Member of Parliament for Batticaloa said that since 1990 there were thirteen thousand (13,000) Tamils who had disappeared in the East and that there were about 8,500 widows and 6,000 orphans in the East.
300 DISAPPEARANCES IN 3 MONTHS
The Human Rights Task Force appointed by the Sri Lankan government has reported that between January and March (1998) 300 Tamil people have disappeared in Jaffna.
26 KILLED IN AERIAL BOMBING
On June 10, 1998 - twenty six civilians including women and children were killed and more than fifty were critically injured when two Kfir jet bombers of the Sri Lankan air force carried out a massive bombing on the refugee settlement of Suthanthirapuram, in Mullaitivu district.
18 TORTURE CHAMBERS IN VAVUNIYA
According to a Sinhala news paper “Lakbima” of 28 June 98, published in Colombo - Tamil youths travelling to Vavuniya are tortured in 18 different torture chambers in Vavuniya. These torture chambers are run by the armed groups closely working with the government.
SINHALESE HOME GUARDS ABDUCT TAMIL CHILDREN
On March 31, 98, five Tamil children in the Gal Oya colony at Ariyarwaththai were abducted by Sinhala-Muslim home guards in Batticaloa. It is feared that the home guards may have killed them.
ARMY ASSAULTS GOVERNMENT OFFICER DURING ROUND-UP
The armed forces severely assaulted Vallipuram Thavarasa, a grama-sevaka during a round-up of Kudathanai village in the Jaffna peninsula. His right hand was injured and he was admitted to the local hospital.
ARMY ROUND UP IN GURUNAGAR
The armed forces rounded up Gurunagar in Jaffna, ransacking homes and arresting 13 residents on 17 March 98. The same day, fishing in the sea off Gurunagar was also banned by the military.
ARMY SET OFF BOMB IN JAFFNA
Informed sources from Jaffna stated that the Sri Lankan army was responsible for the bomb set off in a crowded shopping area in Jaffna town on 12 April 98. The reports say the attack was planned by the army to wilfully implicate the LTTE. The explosion took place at the Power House Road near the Kasturiar Road and Kankesanthurai (K.K.S) Road junction. A mother of three was killed and several others were injured in this bomb blast.
CIVILIAN ROUND-UP IN VALIKAMAM
Thousands of soldiers in Jaffna in Valikamam cordoned off and detained many civilians in the villages of Moolai, Chulipuram, Ponnalai, Sithankerni, Vaddukoddai and parts of Chankanai on 18 April, 1998. The detainees were interrogated in the burning Sun for the whole day without water and food.
TORTURED AND KILLED
Mr. Murukupillai Sellathurai (52 years) died soon after being released by the military in Veeramunai in Baittcaloa district. The post-mortem examination revealed that he had suffered fatal internal injuries due to torture.<More Details>
STF GATHERS INFORMATION
The Special Task Force (STF)has ordered local government officials (Grama Sevakas) to collect information on Tamil families living in Batticaloa district. The officials have been asked to gather names, age, sex and occupation. People in Batticaloa are frightened that an impending massacre is awaiting them in the East.
PUTHUKKUDIYIRUPPU WAS BOMBED
On 2 May 98, Sri Lankan war planes dropped several sorties of bombs over the town of Puthukudiyiruppu in the Batticaloa district. Several properties were damaged and residents and shopkeepers fled the town in panic.
ROUND-UP IN VAVUNIYA
On 2-3 May 98, the Sri Lankan armed forces rounded up several villages in Vavuniya district. Once the villagers were taken away their homes were ransacked The detainees were gathered in the open grounds in the hot sun without food and water.
300 TAMILS ROUNDED UP BY ARMY
On 15 March 98, the army and police in Batticaloa have rounded up civilians in the villages of Valaichchenai, Vinayagapuram, Kannakipuram and Peyathalai. Many homes were ransacked and twenty five civilians were arrested. Ten were detained for further questioning at the Harbour army camp.
On 20 May 1998, Sri Lankan soldiers rounded up Tamil civilians in Valaichchenai area. More than 300 civilians were taken away for questioning. On the same day, the army rounded up civilians in other towns Kannakipuram, Kalmadu, Vinayagapuram, Peyathalai and Kannankiramam. Residents were herded like cattle and ordered to assemble in a common place. Here they were detained in the hot sun without food and water and denied sanitary facilities. Several civilians were taken away cattle to the Valaichchenai Harbour army camp.
ARBITARY ARRESTS BY ARMY
On 8 March 98, the Sri Lankan army rounded up civilians in the Island of Punguduthivu in the Jaffna peninsula. Several civilians were taken into custody.
ARRESTS IN COLOMBO
During the second week of April 98, the Sri Lankan security forces arrested fifty two Tamils in Colombo and its suburbs.
FREQUENT ARREST AND INTIMIDATION OF TAMIL PASSENGERS
It has become a routine for the Sri Lankan soldiers to board Colombo-bound trains at Polgawela station, coming from Vavuniya and harass the Tamil passengers. They go through compartment after compartment arresting Tamil passengers. The arrested passengers are taken to Colombo police stations.
ARMY IN CIVIL DRESS
At Poonthoddam army detention centre Vavuniya Sri Lankan army soldiers in civil dress are taking Tamil men and women for interrogation. So far none of them taken for interrogation has returned.
On 2 April 98, Sri Lankan soldiers abducted a young Tamil farmer at Kothanda Koluththikulam in Batticola. Several farmers who went to harvest crops in their fields were also arrested.
CIVILIAN LOSES LEG IN ARMY LANDMINE (Refer Page 40)
In March 98, Mr. Thavarajah Natheeswaran lost a leg due to explosion of a landmine in Puthur in Jaffna district.
On March 24, 98 another civilian, Yogendram Ratheepkumar, lost his leg as he stepped on a mine in Urumpirai in Jaffna.
On 1 April 1998, Daniel Kantharuban lost his right leg after stepping on a landmine in Erlalai in Jaffna peninsula.
On April 29, 98, S Sunthararasan (19), a Tamil fisherman, lost his leg as he stepped on a mine in Mullaitivu's Kallapadu seashore. All these landmines believed to have been buried by the Sri Lankan army for their security in the Jaffna peninsula. <More Details>
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
(Refer page of 34-37)
7000 FAMILIES STARVING IN BATTICALOA
At Vaharai in Batticaloa, more than 7000 Tamil families are starving following the government's blockade of food and medicine to the Tamil regions. Sri Lankan army has not given the pass to transport food to the region. The ICRC has agreed to provide escort but the army has refused.
MILITARY STOPS EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLIES TO TAMIL REFUGEES
The army has blocked relief supplies to Tamil refugees in the villages of Pallikudiyiruppu and Srinivasapuram. The refugees are believed to be in danger of starvation.
DELIBERATE CONTAINMATION OF FOOD WITH
WORMS, FLIES AND INSECTS
According to Co-operative Society sources in the North-East, the food relief for displaced Tamil civilians is un fit for human consumption. The spokesman for the Stores said that flies, insects and worms are contained in the food supplies provided by government. The stores has refused to distribute the food supply.
The government has deliberately stopped food relief to Tamil refugees in Kithual, Karadiyanaru and Pankudaveli in the Batticaloa
district. More than 2,000 families have not received their relief since November last year and are in fear of serious starvation.
ARMY BLOCKS FOOD SUPPLIES TO MULLAITIVU
The Sri Lankan army has deliberately blocked urgently needed food supplies to the displaced Tamils in Mullaitivu.
60% OF THE SCHOOL DESTROYED IN BATTICALOA
Speaking at a seminar in Colombo Mr. Joseph Pararajasingam - Member of Parliament for Batticaloa has said that since 1990, 60% of the schools in the Eastern province have been destroyed during military operations and two hundred million rupees is needed to repair these school buildings.
STUDENTS AND TEACHERS PROTEST
On 3 April 1998 the Mullaitivu Teachers' Association and the students' union held a demonstration at Mallavi in the Vanni to condemn the government for frequent aerial bombardment of Tamil schools. The protest started in the morning at Mallavi central college and the participants marched to the UNHCR office and handed over a petition to the resident representative.
PERMISSION TO HOLD SPORTS MEET DENIED
The army in Jaffna peninsula has refused permission to hold the Sports Meet in the village of Maruthankerny.
GOVERNMENT HARMS TAMIL CHILDREN’S EDUCATION
The military attack on Tamil schools has damaged Tamil children's education in Batticaloa district. Batticaloa district's literacy rate has dropped to an all time low of 69%. This is caused by daily bombing, and shelling of school buildings. Since 1983, several Tamil schools in the region have been destroyed or are unusable due to army shelling. Consequently many Tamil children end up in refugee camps.
JAYA SIKURUI DISRUPT EDUCATION
According to the Education Officer of Thunnukai, the prolonged Jaya Sikurui operation in the Vanni area has severely disrupted children's education. He blamed the government for authorising aerial bombing and artillery shelling on civilian centres.
SHORTAGE OF SCHOOL TEACHERS
The Education department official in the Mullaitivu district have admitted that there is an acute shortage of school teachers in the Vanni district. The actual requirement for the district is about 1457 but only 722 teachers are serving. The government is deliberately denying facilities to Tamil schools in Vanni.
Many schools including Karuvankerni Vigneswaran School in Valaichchenai in Batticaloa district remain closed since May 98. Parents have refused to send their children to school as they fear that the army would harm them. <More Details>
HOSPITAL UNABLE TO COPE UP
Due to prolonged medical embargo on the Tamil people, the Mulankavil co-operative hospital in Vanni is unable to treat its patients. The medical blockade resulted last year in the death of 46 patients including two new-born infants and mothers.
During 1997, 149,052 outpatients suffering from Malaria were treated at Mullaitivu hospital, according to Mullaitivu's health officer. He added that Malaria patients constituted 30% of the total number of patients.
The Mulankavil hospital in Vanni has stopped treating all Malaria patients due to unavailability of drugs. During the month of April, 1107 Malaria patients were treated. The hospital has run out of drugs due to the government's blockade of medicine to the Vanni region.
SHORTAGE OF ANTI-RABI VACCINE
Most of the hospitals in Vanni area have had no anti-rabies vaccines in their stores for the past several months.
MEMORANDUM FROM THE HEALTH SERVICE
The Deputy director of the north-east health service, Dr. Sellathurai, has submitted a memorandum to the north-east health ministry pointing out the appalling state of the health service in the region. He noted a serious shortage of medical personnel including minor staff and nurses in all health centres in the north-east and that several clinics outside army control have had to be closed down due to deliberate government negligence. The Batticaloa Teaching Hospital has no medical specialist and other support staff. Ambulance vehicles are also not available. Hospitals in the Jaffna peninsula and all over the Vanni district suffer from the same plight because of government’s negligence. Medical supplies do not arrive on time and, even when they do, supplies are often insufficient.
APPEAL FROM THE GOVERNMENT AGENT
The Government Agent (GA) Mr. Tharmakulasingam stated in his latest report in May that a large displaced population, the shortage of drugs, medical personnel, hospital facilities and the ongoing Jeyasikiru military operations are all factors contributing to an atmosphere of malnutrition, starvation as well as anxiety among the residents in the Mullaitivu district.
The refusal to supply approved drugs by the Ministry of Health and delays in transporting medicine from Vavuniya has lead to shortages of much needed drugs such as Anti Rabies vaccine, Anti Venom serum, hloroquine, Premaquine and Toxicide” said the report.
The report added that shortage of drugs, doctors and other medical personnel has resulted in severe hardship consequently, the patients are forced to travel to distant places such as Vavuniya Base Hospital for emergency medical services.
The GA also said that medical laboratory facilities have not been available at the Mullaitivu District Hospital since 1990.
“Drugs for the first quarter reached hospitals at the end of March and April, but minus 125 drugs which included the most needed drugs. Drugs for the second quarter were approved at the end of May but transport has yet to be arranged through the UNHCR” the GA added.
STATISTICS OF DISPLACED TAMILS
Population in Mullaitivu district as of 31/3/1998 :
Category Families Persons
Permanent (Not displaced) 12,207 49,924
Displaced within the District (Jeyasikuru) 6,893 21,618
Displaced from others Districts 35,331 139,970
Total 54,431 218,512
Displace families according to place of origin as of 31/3/1998
District Families Persons
Mullaitivu 12,207 28,618
Jaffna 6,893 96,050
Kilinochchi 24,951 16,361
Vavuniya 3,874 15,273
Mannar 42 144
Trincomalee 2,643 10,516
Other districts 411 1,626
Total 42,224 168,588
HOSPITAL UNDER ATTACK
On 19 May 98, soldiers from a checkpoint had opened fire at the Jaffna teaching hospital. Hospital staff fled through fear of army assault. One patient Vadivel Sivapalan (35) sustained injury as a result of army firing.
The Jaffna Teaching Hospital has a permanent shortage of medicine and medical equipment. There is also a severe shortage of hospital staff including nurses and doctors.
MILITARY OCCUPATION OF JAFFNA HOSPITAL
This teaching hospital is presently under the administration of the Armed forces. Several wards are exclusively reserved for the use of the military. The patients are frightened of the constant presence of military personnel in the hospital premises.
FISHING BAN FOR TAMIL FISHERMEN
Since long time, the armed forces have banned fishing in the Kilali coastal areas and Pulopallai in the North.
The Sri Lankan armed forces have reintroduced a ban on fishing off the coast of Mathagal (in Jaffna), after lifting it in January. About 150 Tamil fishing families who fish at Mathagal have lost their livelihood.
NAVY HARASS FISHERMEN
The Sri Lankan Navy continues to harass and kill many Tamil fishermen off the Mullaitivu coastal area. On 7 March 98, three Tamil fishermen fishing off Ampalavan Pokkanai were killed. Two others have escaped by jumping into the sea, subsequently rescued by other fishermen. Several thousand rupees worth of fishing materials were burnt when the boats caught fire.
Sri Lankan naval forces opened fire on Tamil fishermen at sea off Puthukudiyiruppu on March 25, 98. The fishermen jumped off the boat and swam ashore.
Sri Lankan soldiers from the nearby Kalladi army camp in Batticaloa have set fire to fishing equipment belonging to Tamil fishermen at Kalladi beach. The fishing equipment belonging to 20 different fishermen was valued at several thousands of rupees.
While there are several fishing areas around the Jaffna peninsula, the soldiers occupying the region ban all fishing. After months of agitation by the fishermen the Army chief in Valikamam apparently gave permission to fish from April 17, 98. But when the fishermen went out for fishing, soldiers turned them away saying that fishing is banned under all circumstances.
Since March, 30 fishermen have been killed in the attacks on fishing boats in the coastal area of Mullaitivu and, damage to fishing properties is estimated to be 2,900,000 rupees.
On 1 May 98, the Sri Lankan navy bombed the coastal village of Manmunai in Chempianpattu in east Vadamaradchy in the North. Several fishermen's huts were burnt down. Valuable fishing boats and fishing equipment were destroyed.
On May 21, 98 two fishermen were killed and 11 were injured in an aerial bombing carried out by Kfir war planes in Silawaththai, Mullaitivu. A group of Tamil fishermen drawing their nets in the coastal waters was the target of this attack.
FISHING TRAINING DENIED TO TAMIL STUDENTS
The defence ministry has denied permission to Tamil students to take their school owned Fishing training vessel into the Batticaloa lagoon. The training school opened under the resettlement and rehabilitation plan initiated by the government is without proper training vessels due to government’s lack of initiative. A 4.5 million-rupee worth fishing vessel which was intended for the Batticaloa fisheries training school is being kept back in Negombo.
SHORTAGE OF WATER
Since early part of 1997, the armed forces at Colony-13-Amy camp have cut off water supply to Tamil villages on the Batticaloa-Amparai border. The Tamil villages of Mandoor, Sankapuram and Kanesapuram do not have any supply of water since early 1997 and the cultivation is at a standstill in this area. A total of 5,000 Tamil families living in the three villages are undergoing extreme hardships. 2,900 acres of rich paddy lands have remained uncultivated.
RICE MILL CLOSED DOWN
At Kiran in Batticaloa - a rice mill employing mainly Tamil widows and Tamil handicapped persons has been closed down by the Sri Lankan army, saying that it is an anti-government establishment.
HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
100% OF THE CHILDREN LOST THEIR FATHERS
A recent survey conducted on Tamil fishing community in the Mullaitivu district has revealed that a majority of the male members have been killed by the Sri Lankan navy. Another survey from the local Tamil Iniyan Kudiyiruppu school, revealed that 100% of the children have lost their fathers to the Sri Lankan navy. There were 30 children in the class, all their fathers have been killed.
8000 WIDOWS AND ORPHANS
Figures released by an independent study group reveal that 8000 young Tamil women have become widows during the last 8 years in Jaffna district as a result of Sri Lankan military attacks. Tamil orphans run to more than 8000.
TWO BABIES DIED WITHOUT DRUGS
On 16 April 98, two children - 3 1/2 years and 1 1/2 years have died of a rare form of fever at the Akkarayan hospital in Vanni, one of the regions which are facing government embargo on medicine.
On 9 March 1998, the army in Jaffna peninsula arrested four women at Vallipuram Kovil checkpoint in Point Pedro, when they were returning home after shopping. The arrested women are Thavasingam Satkunathevi (40), Anandakumar Indira (31) and Kandasamy Maheswary (46), of Nagarkovil in Point Pedro area.
HUSBAND AND WIFE ARRESTED
On 24 April 98, Jegaseelan Puvaneswary (24), a mother of two who went in search of her husband was arrested. While she was passing the Valaiyiravu bridge the soldiers on duty arrested her. Todate both husband and wife are detained in different detention centres. Two of their young children are without proper care as the parents are under military custody.
POLICEMAN ATTEMPTS TO RAPE
On 15 March 98, a policeman attached to the Kopay police station in Jaffna attempted to rape a mother of three in her house in Thirunelveli. The residents intervened and prevented her being raped by the Policeman. When it was brought to the notice of the Kopay police station they came to the scene and took the policeman to safety without charging him for the crime.
6-YEAR OLD GIRL SHOT DEAD
The army in Kiran in Batticaloa gunned down a 6-year old Tamil girl who had been held in their custody. Soldiers asked the detainees to run away from the camp and then opened fire as they ran. 6 year old Peethamparam Sasikala was killed instantaneously.
SRI LANKAN SOLDIERS GANG-RAPE A YOUNG GIRL
On 19 March 98, soldiers gang-raped a deaf and dumb girl in Meesalai in Jaffna. The girl, Selvaranee, unable to bear the humiliation attempted to commit suicide. Her mother’s timely intervention saved the girl who is recuperating at the local hospital.
WOMAN SHOT DEAD
On 30 April 1998, the Sri Lankan armed forces shot and killed a 36 year old mentally retarded woman who resisted their attempts to rape her. This unfortunate incident took place when she was at the army check post at Nochchikulam in the Mannar district.
ARMY SHELL KILL PREGNANT WOMAN
On 12 March 98, Asokan Atputharanee (29), a 5-months pregnant mother was killed when she was hit by a sharpnel from an explosive fired by the Sri Lankan army in Kudathanai in the Jaffna district.
WOMEN WHIPPED PUBLICLY
On 19 June 98 - a Special Task Force (STF) team at Kalmunai highway at Kottaikallar in Batticaloa whipped three Tamil women publicly. The reason for this whipping was unknown. <More Detail>
NGOs COMPLAIN TO UN ENVOY
On 6 May 98, NGOs in Madhu, Vanni told the visiting UN special envoy Olara Otunnu that the Sri Lankan military was deliberately obstructing their humanitarian aid programme, resulting in widespread malnutrition and unusually high mortality among people. The meeting was presided by the representative of the Mannar government agent and attended by many NGOs and the refugee population. The NGOs said that according to the latest survey, infant mortality has shot-up to an alarming level in those areas blockaded by the Sri Lankan army. The UN envoy was told that farming in these areas was also hampered due to the embargo on fertiliser. The heavy bombardment of agricultural lands has contributed for sharply reduced agricultural products. Many parents and relatives of young people who recently 'disappeared' also made a plea to help trace their missing relatives. They broke down and wept in front of the UN envoy, who was visibly moved by their plight. Responding to their appeals, Mr. Otunnu said he was already aware of these matters and expressed sorrow over the disappearance of innocent people. The UN special envoy promised to bring the matter to the attention of the authorities in Colombo.
NO PERMISSION TO BRING HOME DEAD CHILD
On 30 March 98, the military has refused army-pass to a mother to bring home the body of her 6-month old infant. The mother, Kamaladevy, admitted that her baby Chandravathany who was suffering from diarehoea to the Vavuniya hospital. As the child's condition deteriorated, the baby was transferred to the Anuradhapura hospital and died. The mother was forced to leave the lifeless body of the infant in the hospital mortuary and travel alone back to Vavuniya. Ultemately the child was denied a descent burial. <More Detail>
LAND RIGHTS AND PROPERTY DAMAGE
(Refer page of 35-36)
81,000 HOUSES DESTROYED
Jaffna's Peace and Justice Committee has said 81,000 homes in Valikamam in Jaffna district have been damaged by Sri Lankan forces.
COLONISATION IN KANTALAI
At Kantalai in Trincomalee district - about a 20 sq. km Tamil inhabited area is now being settled with sinhala people. Residents of this area earlier fled after persistent military onslaughts. This colonisation has been sponsored by the government
CIVILIANS FORCED OUT OF THEIR VILLAGE
On 19 March, 1998, the Sri Lankan police and army ordered 101 families to leave the Upparu village in Trincomalee. Residents have now taken refuge at Alankerni and Faisal villages.
ARMY TELLS TAMIL CIVILIANS NOT TO COME BACK
The Trincomalee district's army co-ordinating officer has declared that Tamil families who were driven out of their Upparu village by the army and police will not be permitted to return home under any circumstances. At a meeting convened at the district's administrative office, the Army commander rejected a plea from a local MP for the return of the residents. Permission was also denied to villagers to return to take back their cattle left in their homes. The purpose of this forced exodus is to colonise Sinhala settlers in the homes and villages vacated by the Tamils.
42 HOMES LEVELLED IN JAFFNA
The security forces have demolished 42 houses in Ilavalai, Siruvilan and Peruvilan in Jaffna. Trees and other structures were also knocked down, wells levelled to make room for an army playground.
GOVERNMENT SPONSORED COLONISATION
Sri Lankan security forces colonise Tamil areas with Sinhalese people. The Tamils living in Morawewa and Trincomalee (Peeniyadi, Ravananstreet, 6th mile post, Kanniya, Nellari, Veppamkulam, Pankulam and Moraweva Pillaiyar Koviladi) have been forcibly evicted from their houses. The Sinhalese settlers are given all facilities by the government
TAMIL VILLAGES WITH SINHALA NAMES
These areas have now been given Sinhalese names, such as Sinhapura and Thandapura in Kantalai, South-west of Trincomalee. A 20 sq. area km is colonised by armed Sinhala settlers. Tamil residents in the neighbourhood of the new settlement fled their villages for fear of army attack.
The village of Sinna Yalpanam close to the China Bay air force base in Trincomalee has been renamed Janasaviyapura and colonised with Sinhalese settlers. Tamil Nedunkuda village has been renamed Nalandapura. A new Sinhalese colony called Sinhapura has also been created in Pottuvil.
RESTRICTIONS ON RESETTLEMENT
Restrictions have been imposed by the Sri Lankan Navy on the resettlement of displaced Tamil families in Mandaithivu. This is an island very near the Jaffna town with a population which solely depends on fishing for its livelihood.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE AND
HUMAN RIGHTS OF DETAINEES
(Refer page of 36-37)
Forty-seven Tamil political prisoners held at the Kalutura prison, are on a fast unto death since 23 June 98 demanding that the authorities either begin legal proceedings against them or release them.
On December 12 97, three political prisoners in the Kalutara prison were killed by Sinhala prisoners with the connivance of Sinhala guards. No inquiry was held on the prison killings until to-day.
It will be recalled that 53 political prisoners were massacred in the Colombo high security Welikada jail on July 24 and 25, 1983. Fifteen years later no proper inquiries have been held nor the culprits punished
THREE IDENTITY PAPERS FOR TAMILS
The Sri Lankan soldiers at the check points in Jaffna peninsula have ordered the civilians to carry 3 identity papers and details of their movements. Likewise those who take the flight to Colombo must get two witnesses from the neighbourhood who should assure in writing that the passanger is not a "terrorist".
SIGN BOARDS IN SINHALESE
Sign boards in Jaffna are being converted from Tamil to Sinhalese. Public sign boards, road names , bus destination boards, Time tables etc. are written prominently in Sinhalese while Tamil the version is etched in minute characters.
DELIBRATE DELAY IN ISSUING NATIONAL ID CARDS
In a move to undermine the political strength of the Tamils in the Central and Uva provinces, a large number of the hill country Tamils who have been registered as voters, are not given their national identity cards. The Sri Lankan government has ignored pleas by the Tamils to expedite the processing of their national identity cards applications.
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
(Refer page of 35)
RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
The Sri Lankan government has cut down the Tamils' freedom of movement across the island. In a new move announced recently, it will allow only 125 Tamils a day to cross into Mannar from other parts of the Vanni.
The military also announced that Tamils wishing to travel from Vanni to Jaffna will not be allowed to cross the Uliyankulam check post. For the last two months the Sri Lankan army has similarly stopped boats ferrying Tamils from Mannar to Jaffna, resulting in nearly 5,000 Tamils currently being stranded in Mannar. Some of those stranded are University students and student teachers from the Jaffna peninsula.
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT IN JAFFNA
The Sri Lankan armed forces have restricted the movement of men aged 16-40 from Vadamaradchy east sector to other parts.
The army has also stopped civilians taking food and clothes to the area and confisticated money in excess of 350 rupees per person.
TROOPS DENY ENTRY TO RETURNING RESIDENTS
The army has refused permission to 5561 Tamil civilians trying to get to their homes in Valikamam East. They are being held in 56 army-detention centres in many parts of Jaffna peninsula. These detention centres are believed to be unfit for human habitation.
The detention centres in Jaffna are as follows :
7 detention centres in Kopay; 734 persons belonging to 194 families
13 detention centres in Chankanai; 833 persons belonging to 229 families
9 detention centres in Sandilipay; 784 persons belonging to 221 families
3 detention centres in Tellipalai; 440 persons belonging to 127 families
8 detention centres in Uduvil; 907 persons belonging to 241 families
7 detention centres in Pt. Pedro; 1081 persons belonging to 253 families
detention centres in Karaveddy; 70 persons belonging to 18 families
2 detention centres in Jaffna; 366 persons belonging to 83 families
detention centres in Maruthahankerni; 326 persons belonging to 82 families
FLEEING REFUGEES TARGETTED BY THE NAVY
On 25 February 98, the Sri Lankan navy has opened fire on a group of Tamil refugees who were waiting at Mannar to board the ferry to Tamil Nadu in India. On the following day at the same place again the Navy has arrested fifty four refugee women waiting to flee to Tamil Nadu. The Tamil refugees were fleeing to India to escape the military onslaught of civilians in Tamil areas.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Since June 5, 1998 - President Chandrika Kumaratunga has imposed Press censorship in Sri Lanka. As the present censorship applies to both local and foreign press, this will keep the whole world in the dark about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. Foreign news reporters are already prohibited from visiting the North and East. Reuters news agency has criticised the press censorship.
EDITOR ESCAPES ASSASSINATION - WORK OF THE GOVERNMENT
On 18 June 98, Mr. Lasantha Wickrematunga - editor of Sunday Leader, escaped death when gunmen burst into his home and sprayed bullets to scare the editor. According to Mr. Lasantha Wickrematunga, it is belived to be the work of the security forces.
The Paris-based media rights organisation, Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), in a letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunga called for the attackers to be tried and sentenced. "Our organisation asks you to ensure that all journalists can exercise their profession safely", RSF said.
The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka expressed "total disgust" at the attack on the Sunday Leader editor. Mr. Wickrematunga had previously been assaulted by unidentified men who had warned him to stop criticising the government. Mr. Wickrematunga's Sunday Leader weekly has been uneqivocal in its criticism and exposed alleged corruption in the government.
(Colombo, June 18 - AFP)
ATTEMPTED TO ABDUCT A JOURNALIST
On 12 February 1998, five gunmen, suspected to be connected with the security forces, forcibly entered the home of Mr. Iqbal Athas and, after threatening him and his family, attempted to abduct him. Mr.Iqbal Athas is a senior journalist specializing in defence-related reporting. He writes for the Sunday Times, a Colombo news paper.
HINDU PRIESTS APPEAL TO UNESCO
The North-East Hindu Priests' Association has despatched a letter to UNESCO requesting it to tell the Sri Lankan government to stop bombing Hindu temples, arresting Hindu priests, and using temples as army living quarters and checkpoints. Copies of the strong statement were sent to India's ruling BJP, Shiv Sena, Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Kanchi Kamakody Hindu leadership. It points out that well over 1800 Hindu temples have been entirely destroyed or partially damaged and the holiness of these temples purposefully violated. Hindu icons have been plundered by the Sri Lankan army and Hindu priests routinely intimidated and harassed at army checkpoints.
TWO CHRISTIAN PRIESTS KILLED IN AERIAL BOMBING
On June 4, 1998 two Christian priests Christianpillai and Dominic in Kanahampikaikulam in the Killinochchi district were killed when Kfir bombers dropped several sorties of bombs. The bodies of the diseased were shattered beyond recognition.
Last year August 25, a Christian priest Rev. Arulpalan of Konavil in Killinochchi district, who was reportedly taken in for questioning by the Sri Lankan Army was not seen alive there after, his decomposed body was discovered on September 9, 1997. To-date no inquiry was held to punish the perpetrators of the crime.
On 10 June 98, a Hindu priest and his wife were injured in an aerial attack at Suthanthirapuram Mullaitivu. 1800 Hindu temples in North and East of Sri Lanka were destroyed or damaged over the past few years.
CHURCH CONVERTED INTO ARMY CAMP
St. Joseph's church of the Tamils at 7th mile post in the Trincomalee district has been converted into an army administration base.
ARMY DESTROYS HISTORIC TEMPLE
The historic Keerimalai Naguleswarar Hindu Temple was bombed by the Sri Lankan airforce. The damage to the temple is estimated to be in the range of hundreds of thousands of rupees.
The head priest from the historic hindu temple of Maviddapuram Kandasamy in Jaffna has identified at Mallakam courts, Hindu-idols robbed from this shrine during the time, the Sri Lankan army occupied this temple. The priest also told the courts that many more items have been robbed from the temple including the gold plated flag-post and other idols.
(LIST OF DESTROYED OR DAMAGED TEMPLES AND CHURCHES ARE AVAIBLABLE)
EXTRACT FROM THE REPORT OF
MR. BACRE WALY NDIAYE
(Report N°. E/CN.4/1998/68/Add.2 - dated 12 March 1998)
(The Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions
visited Sri Lanka from 24 August to 5 September 1997)
The Special Rapporteur wishes to note that while in Jaffna town, and despite the curfew which is still in force from 8 p.m., he generally observed that during daylight, there were visible signs of an easing of tension in the life of the people. However, although there has been a re-establishment of a government administration in the Jaffna peninsula, the military remain in control of the city.
The security forces, comprised of members of the army and the police are 99 per cent Sinhalese and do not speak Tamil which is the language of the local population and very often treat the local population with suspicion. This amplifies the sense of an army occupation and exacerbates the already existing feeling of alienation.
With regard to cases of execution the Special Rapporteur was told that families are reluctant to claim the bodies of their relatives. Close relatives who want to claim the bodies of the victims are required the to declare that the victims were terrorists. Failure to do so will result in the bodies not being given to the families. Due to these conditions, families are afraid to claim the bodies, and several bodies remain unclaimed.
Soldiers convicted of rape or other crimes could be granted bail once the investigation is completed. While on bail, the same soldiers are often transferred to other parts of the country, thus making it difficult to trace them. Often, they will not report for further investigation.
Torture is reportedly used by the armed forces with two principal aims : to obtain information on insurgent group and to intimidate the population. Torture, inflicted at the place of detention, in remote places in rural areas or in military and police premises, reportedly precedes the taking of a decision as to whether the detainee is released or put at the disposal of the competent judicial authority. It seems to be a common practice that members of the armed forces and security forces arrest persons without a warrant, subject them to interrogation and take them to the judge days later, after forcing them to sign a statement of good treatment. All these circumstances, together with the fact that the detainees are kept incommunicado, increase the risk of torture.
Effective impunity encourages political violence and is a serious destabilising element in all contexts of the Sri Lankan socio-political system. Respect for the rule of law is essential to maintain order and stability and to protect human rights in any country. Impunity perpetuates the mass violation of human rights. There have been periodical Extrajudicial executions, but few perpetrators have been brought to justice. Furthermore, impunity is an obstacle to democratic development and peace negotiations, and makes reconciliation difficult. This culture of impunity has led to arbitrary killings and has contributed to the uncontrollable spiralling of violence.
The systematic absence of investigation, either civil or military, into violations of the right to life facilitates impunity. Investigations are rarely conducted, and when they are, they do not lead to the appropriate convictions or penalties.
Impunity for those responsible for human rights violations remains a serious concern. Progress in a few court cases against members of the security forces charged in connection with disappearances and extrajudicial executions is slow, as are investigations into many other cases. While in Colombo, the Special Rapporteur met with Mr. W.C.N Rajapakese who recounted the case of his sister, Ms. W.W Chandrawathie. She was 22 years old when, on 26 September 1990, she was forcibly taken from her house in Eppawala, Aunradhapura district, by a sub-inspector of police accompanied by other relatives, who subsequently shot her. They also alleged that her body was later burnt on tires at a nearby quarry. Officials at the local police station refused to assist the family when they attempted to lodge a complaint. Her family then contacted the Deputy Inspector General of Police of the area, who initiated investigations, the result of which were presented to the Magistrate's Court.
EXTRACT FROM THE REPORTS OF
The three commissions of inquiry established in late 1994 to look into past human rights violations, particularly "disappearances", presented their final reports to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in September. They had reportedly found evidence of 16,742 "disappearances" since 1 January 1988. The government announced it would make the reports public and initiate legal proceedings in those cases where the commissions found prima facie evidence against members of the security forces.
A Board of Investigation, set up in late 1996 within the Ministry of Defence to investigate "disappearances" reported in Jaffna, received complaints concerning 760 people. Of these, 180 were found to be in detention or to have been released; the others remained unaccounted for at the end of the year.
Thousands of Tamil people, including scores of possible prisoners of conscience, were arrested during security operations in all parts of the country. According to official figures, 8,652 people were arrested in Colombo alone between July 1996 and July 1997. After an attack on the World Trade Centre in Colombo in October, apparently by the LTTE, 965 Tamil people were arrested, including 139 women. Approximately 50 of them were detained for further investigation. At the end of the year, an estimated 1,200 people were detained without charge or trial under the Emergency Regulations or Prevention of Terrorism Act, of whom 400 had been held for more than two years. The security forces also held relatives of LTTE members as hostages in order to put pressure on LTTE suspects to give themselves up. Sinnathamby Kanmany, whose daughter was suspected of being an LTTE member, was arrested in March in Vavuniya and held without charge or trial for four months by the Crime Detection Bureau in Colombo. She was finally released in July on the order of the Supreme Court.
Torture and ill-treatment in army and police custody were widespread. Kumaru Selvaratnam was arrested in March on suspicion of involvement with the LTTE. During the first eight days of his detention at Slave Island police station in Colombo, he was assaulted with a broomstick. He suffered injury to the testicles as a result of which they had to be surgically removed. In Jaffna, torture was widespread. Methods included near-suffocation with plastic bags filled with petrol; beatings with wire and plastic pipes; electric shocks; and suspension by the thumbs or ankles. The Supreme Court awarded compensation to a 14 year old girl who had been tortured by police in Hungama in 1995. No prosecutions were initiated under the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act. (see Amnesty International Report 1995)
There were several allegations of rape by members of the security forces, particularly in the north and east. In March Velan Rasamma, a widow and her sister, Velan Vasantha, were reportedly raped by four soldiers in Mayilampaveli Colony, Batticaloa district. The soldiers allegedly involved were arrested but later released after the women failed to identify them at an identification parade, apparently because of fear of reprisals.
Approximately 80 Tamil civilians reportedly "disappeared" after arrest by the army, most in Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mannar and Killinochchi. Further evidence emerged about approximately 600 "disappearances" reported in Jaffna in 1996.
There were several reports of alleged extrajudicial executions, particularly in Vavuniya in the "Vanni", where internally displaced people trying to return to their homes were killed by the army. In September the bodies of the Reverend Arulpalan and two labourers, Joseph and his 16 years old son Surendran, were found in Shalom Nagar, their home village in the security zone around Kilinochchi town. They had "disappeared" after they were seen arrested by soldiers when they went to cut some palmyrah leaves in August. According to reports the Reverend Arulpalan had been shot in the head and Surendran's head had reportedly been severed and placed between his legs. The army denied responsibility for the killings and blamed the LTTE.
One Muslim and two Tamil detainees were killed at Kalutara prison in December by a group of Sinhalese criminal prisoners in an apparently premeditated attack. There were reports that prison staff and army personnel failed to take measures to protect the detainees and that some were appointed to investigate the killings.
Police officers charged with murdering 12 prisoners in Nittambuwa, Gampaha district in 1990 were acquitted in April owing to lack of evidence.
Throughout the year, Amnesty International called for a halt to "disappearances" and other human right violations; for the prosecution of alleged perpetrators; and for a review of the Emergency regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It also urged the government to establish an independent inquiry into the killing of three detainees at Kalutara prison.
SRI LANKA USES FOOD AS A WEAPON AGAINST TAMILS
(Extract from the report submitted at the occasion of the 18th session of
the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (27 April - 17 May, 1998)
by FIAN International, an NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC,
working for the Human Rights to Feed Oneself.)
The Jaffna Medical faculty conducted a survey of the nutritional standards of children in the Jaffna district in 1993 and found over 44,000 children in the district to be suffering from malnutrition.
The government greatly restricted essential supplies such as food, medicine, fertilisers etc. As this cannot be attributed to infrastructural weaknesses in the area, there is reason for concern, that food could have been used as a weapon against both the LTTE and the Tamil population remaining in the area. This amounted to a violation of the right to food and of the Geneva Convention IV to which Sri Lanka is a state party.
Due to the failure of the government to provide for adequate facilities to the increasing number of refugees in the Vanni district, living conditions there are so appalling that most of them meanwhile preferred to return to Jaffna peninsula. Still some half a million refugees struggle to survive in the jungles of Vanni district. An equal number is stranded in the Eastern province. There were reports of violations of civil and political rights perpetrated by the armed forces of both sides, as well as land evictions and massive displacement of people in the war zones, which amount to a violation of these people's land rights and right to feed themselves.
Independent surveys reveal that under-nourishment and malnutrition, specially among expecting mothers and children, are as much as 70 per cent. No doubt, one of the attempts of the Government to meet this situation is the Triposha programme, a supplementary feeding programme with the support of CARE/USAID. Reports indicate that this programme has not been reaching the North and East for the past couple of years.
According to NGOs and humanitarian officials, access to health care is poor. The Jaffna teaching hospital which had well over 1000 beds now functions with only one ward. In Vanni, besides the Vavuniya district hospital, there is a hospital in Mallavi and another one in Akakarayankulam, both of which are severely overcrowded. The hospital in Vavuniya is unable to provide for the needs of the thousands of displaced persons who moved in from places north of Vavuniya. No additional facilities in the area function. Drugs are in short supply. There is also an acute shortage of staff. The Jaffna teaching hospital had only one specialist - an eye surgeon. The incidence of Malaria and respiratory tract infections is high.
In fact, the suicide rate in the country ranks among the highest in the world. Recent published statistics showed 70,000 suicides from 1993 to 1997, a number higher than that accounted for deaths in ethnic warfare during the same period. A vast number of these suicides have taken place among the poorest.
Nearly 2/3 of Sri Lanka's coastal areas fall within the Northern and Eastern Provinces and well over 30 per cent of the population depend on fishing for their living. Since the eruption of the ethnic conflict, the Government severely restricted fishing in the coastal areas in the North and East for reasons of security. No fishermen could not fish in these waters without the permission of the security forces and this permission is seldom given. 90,000 fisher-families are reported to have lost their sole means of livelihood when the government barred civilian access to the coastal belt north of Mannar up to Trincomalee.
By the end of 1996 there were 768,356 internally displaced person (mostly Tamils); approx. 96,000 in India.
The displacement of the population :
Numbers displaced (approx.)
December 1994 525,000
October 1995 649,049
December 1995 1017,181
May 1996 839,161
October 1996 770,356
December 1996 768,356
(Source : Ministry of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction)
According to the same source, at the end of 1997 - 193,253 families of the Northern and Eastern Provinces consisting of 787,632 members were displaced and received state assistance of dry rations. Out of the displaced 36,540 families are in 370 Welfare centres. The rest are staying with friends and relatives.
However, NGO and other humanitarian officials allege that there is a large number of people in Vanni who have not been taken into account in these figures since they do not receive any assistance from the government. Recently, a news report said that there were about 70,000 displaced persons in Vanni not receiving any relief.
(Source : Poser hits Refugee Life in Vanni. C. Kamalendra. "Sunday Times", April 1997)
In addition it is estimated that about 200,000 people have sought refugee overseas, some of whom have applied for asylum. 100,000 refugees are estimated to be in South India.
(Sources : Sri Lanka, State of Human Rights Report 1997. Law & Society Trust)
WELIOYA COLONISATION SCHEME
Manal Aru now named Welioya is located between the Districts of Trincomalee, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Anuradhapura. The total land area is about 100,000 acres (=154 square miles). Until 1983 it had several farms like Navalar Farm, Ceylon Theatres Farm, Kent farm, Dollar Farm etc. All in all there were 16 farms. There were also individual buildings on 10 to 15 acres, and all the inhabitants were Tamils. The Welioya colonisation scheme represents a most destructive and pointless attempt to tamper with an age old population which had been living in these lands for several generations, through colonisation. "Towards the end of 1983, 1,208 Tamil families had been forcibly evicted by the military from 42 villages in Weli-oya area in which they had been living for generations and they stand displaced since then. In addition, Tamil families who were living in Nedunkerny, an area adjoining Weli-oya, also got evicted by the military from 18 villages in that area. No information is available as to the exact number of families that got evicted from these 18 villages. They are now scattered and live in various places as refugees. 3000 families who were evicted are suffering in refugee camps hoping for the day they could go back to their villages.
The Eastern Province consists of three administrative districts namely; Amparai, Batticaloa and Trincomalee, which had a high concentration of Tamil and Muslim populations. To the West of these districts lies the Sinhalese populated districts of Monaragala, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. In between them are the border areas which were fertile land once cultivated but now abandoned to the advancing jungles which were part of the Eastern Province.
Successive governments since independence have followed a policy of colonising these border areas with mostly Sinhalese population brought from outside the bordering districts. The policy was motivated both by political as well as economic considerations. Politically the intention is that there should be no territory that could be called Tamil. Economically the land owning class, who held political power since independence, thought that the best way to solve landlessness among the Sinhalese who might one day demand lands from them, is to shift them to the colonisation scheme in the distant Eastern Province.
Demolition of houses during military operations
(a) The District of Jaffna in the 1980's had a population of 800,000. As at end of 31/12/1997, it had dwindled to 473.279. Due to the ongoing war about 40% of the dwelling houses had been demolished. According to the records available with the district administration, the number of houses demolished / partly damaged is given below.
Demolished Partly damaged damaged
Permanent Houses 8,171 20,084 16,332
Semi Permanent Houses 4,860 6,968 3,665
Temporary Houses 11,384 3,708 4,145
Total 24,415 30,750 24,142
(Note : Houses under high security zones in the district are not included. About 25% of the land area falls under high security zones)
(b) The Government launched a military operation code named ”JAYASIKURU” last year to clear 90 miles of road way from Jaffna in the North. This road way is the main roadway that links Jaffna Peninsula to the main land. About 60 miles of this road way runs through areas that were not in government control, but in control of LTTE. Reports reaching from these areas indicate that 100 meters both sides of the road have been cleared with bulldozers demolishing several buildings including dwellings, to assure security for the road. No survey had been done to ascertain the damage caused to buildings. This is borne out by the fact that 246,000 persons in the District of Kilinochchi, and 450,000 in the district of Vanni, the two districts through which this road way runs, stand displaced.
Forcible eviction from arable lands and houses
These occur to establish new military camps and to extend existing camps. A few such instances are given :
(i) Palaly Airport in the District of Jaffna was converted into a military air base in the early part of 1980. Nearly 430 acres of land had been taken over partly for extension and partly to assure security. This is a very fertile area with highly productive red soil.
(ii) Batticaloa Airport was similarly made into an airbase and 90 acres were taken over in 1990 out of which 70 acres were arable land belonging to cultivators. Again in 1994 further 263 acres of land were taken over for this Airport. As a result 256 families who were cultivators had been evicted. According to a recent survey 40 percent of the families evicted are at poverty level.
Confiscation of property and demolition of dwellings
The Prevention of Terrorism Act N° 4 of 1979 (PTA) and the existing Emergency Regulations (ER) already provided for forfeiture of property as one of the consequences of conviction for certain offences in addition to other penalties such as life imprisonment, imprisonment and fine. Under PTA any person who causes the death of a specified person or kidnaps or abducts or commits an attack upon a person, is deemed to have forfeited all properties moveable and immoveable to the Republic.
Under the Emergency Regulations any person convicted on the charge of conspiracy to overthrow the government could be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment and will forfeit all his property.
The present Regulation "The Emergency" (confiscation of property) Regulation N°. 1 of 1996 published on 22nd August, 1996 had taken a step further and provides for confiscation in certain circumstances even when there has been no finding by a Court that an offence has been committed. The confiscation is carried out by the Inspector General of Police after approval of the Defence Secretary. The approval only has to state that from the information available to the defence Secretary the Secretary is satisfied that :
During the early part of July, 1996 following the arrest of a person the police sealed her residence at Rasavalli Lane, Wellawatte (Colombo). After three days the Criminal Detective Bureau of the police using a bulldozer completely demolished the house with the household goods which included valuables. The said person stands charged before court for possessing arms and ammunition. On 21st March 1997, the police tried to bulldoze a house at Boswell Place, Wellawatte. Due to protests by the residents and intervention of neighbours, police ploughed the compound, damaged roof and threw away a pile of bricks that were in the compound.
MILITARY GROWTH OF SRI LANKAN
SECURITY FORCES SINCE 1994
President Chandrika's government which speaks of human rights and peace has increased the defence forces by double since it came to power
Army 30,000 40,000 90,000 105,000 118,890 135,000
Navy 3,960 5,500 10,100 10,300 11,831 12,000
Airforce 3,700 3,700 10,700 10,700 12,292 12,500
Police 21,000 21,000 40,000 80,000 80,000 80,000
STF 5,000 7,000 8,000 8,000 8,000 8,000
(Source : Air Vice Marshal - Harry Gunatilleke - Weekend Express of 25-26 April 1998)
OVER 1800 LANDMINE VICTIMS IN JAFFNA
According to “Lankadeepa”, the Sinhala daily news paper of 10 July 98, over 1800 civilians have lost a limb due to land mines in Jaffna during the last 6 years. The paper said, according to the survey, 1448 of them are males below the age of 30.
Dr. N. Selvarajah of the University of Jaffna, said that between 80 to 100 victims of pressure mines are reported every month in Jaffna. He gave this figures in a seminar, jointly organised by the University of Jaffna and UNICEF, on 6 July 98. These landmines believed to have been buried by the security forces for their security in the Jaffna peninsula.
POINTS RAISED BY THE EXPERTS AT THE 18th SESSION OF
THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
(Extract from the DPI Press release 28/4/98 and 29/4/98)
The committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this morning started it consideration of a report by Sri Lanka, discussing among other issues the effect of the armed conflict in the south Asian country on the fulfilment of these rights.
* One expert said there had been marginalization of Tamils in their homeland since independence. Actions by the majority Sinhalese had resulted in reduced rates of employment, low standards of health, housing and education for Tamils. Why was the Government not willing to comply with international obligations to fulfil the aspiration of its minorities, the expert asked.
* Other issues raised included prospects for a solution to the 14 year war, which had caused the displacement of an estimated 193,000 families, or 800,000 people; claims by non-governmental organisations that the Government used food as a weapon against the Tamil population and Tamil refugees and the need for in-depth information about mental disorders in refugee camps.
* Concerning discrimination against ethnic groups, an expert said available data did not prove it did not exist, as the delegation claimed. Although there was no discrimination in the private sector, most economic development was in the Sinhalese populated areas, while Tamil-populated areas were ignored; that was the crux of the problem.
* One expert said the statistics in the core report on causes of low birth weight did not include figures from northern or eastern Sri Lanka. The government could not blame the conflict for not addressing problems. Otherwise the fighting was justified. If practical reasons were the cause for the lack of statistics, how had it been possible to hold elections in the Jaffna peninsula but not health surveys? Figures showed that the Sinhalese population was better treated and provided for than other ethnic groups.
* But Committee experts pointed to the so-called Welioya Colonisation Scheme, under which Tamils had been removed from their homes to be replaced by tens of thousands of Sinhalese families. Some claims might be propaganda, experts said but it was not sufficient for the delegation to say that there were no evictions or that all reports were propaganda. The delegation also had to be careful not to blame the LTTE - the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - for everything, said one expert.
* One expert said the delegation insisted that there had been improvement in the quality of life, but statistics showed that Sinhalese children were in better health than non-Sinhalese. Was this because the distribution of revenue was not equitable, or was it because Sinhalese were better educated? He was concerned about the correlation between non-Sinhalese persons and cases of malnutrition among children.
Press release of the NGO "Peace Brigades International"
who quit Sri Lanka in May 98
Your Excellency, 5 MAY 1998
It is with regret that we inform you that Peace Brigades International has decided to close its project in Sri Lanka. We have had a presence in your country since 1989, striving to protect and encourage those working to ensure respect for human rights...
During recent years the demand for our service of protective accompaniment by democratic activists has reduced significantly, especially in the South, where most of our early work was centred. This is a positive change. At the same time, we have continued to perceive a need for our presence in other regions, particularly in the East.
However; our ability to work effectively in that region has been noticeably hindered by the limitations on access to the region that your government has deemed necessary to impose due to the ongoing conflict. As a result of these two factors, combined with other internal criteria within our organisation over the last year, we have gone through a process of evaluation resulting in a decision to withdraw our team from Sri Lanka.
We must, however, express our most serious concern and surprise over the recent actions taken by your government with respect to our organisation. On 4 March 1998 at a meeting with members of the Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Plan Implementation and Parliamentary Affairs, we were informed that we would be unable to continue our work in Sri Lanka without agreeing to new and strict conditions. In particular, those conditions included the demand that we refrain from publishing reports outside Sri Lanka without first submitting them to the appropriate government ministries. No such condition had ever been imposed before, not even under the UNP government.
As a non-governmental organisation with a firm commitment to non partisanship and independence, it was unthinkable that we could condition our work in this way. As a result our on-island representatives did not receive the necessary recommendation for resident visas to be issued. Under these circumstances we were forced to withdraw much more abruptly than we had planned.
You have often eloquently voiced your commitment to human rights and democracy, and we have been encouraged by your attempts to seek a negotiated solution to the conflicts in Sri Lanka. We recognise that a sovereign government facing an internal conflict will often deem it expedient to control both geographical access and information about the conflicts.
Nevertheless, when such measures are applied to non-partisan NGO witnesses whose presence can increase respect for human rights, the result is counterproductive: these measures undermine trust in the government, and weaken the possibilities for achieving true democracy and respect for human rights.
Despite our withdrawal, our commitment to the people of Sri Lanka continues. We hope to continue to serve the cause of democracy and human rights in Sri Lanka by monitoring the situation and informing our members, other international NGOs and international government contacts of ongoing developments. We will also do our best to support the efforts of other non-partisan, non-violent NGOs still working in Sri Lanka.
In closing, we again offer our sincerest support for all efforts your government can take towards a negotiated solution to the conflict, and towards the respect for human rights of all Sri Lankans.
Anne Harrison - Chair of PBInternational Council
Andrew Kendle -Chair of the Sri Lanka Project
Kevin Ellis - Co-ordinator of the Sri Lanka Project
PBI is an international NGO working for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Central America, Colombia, Haiti, and the Balkans. It has associate status with the United Nations Department of Public Information. For more information on this issue, please contact: PBI's International Office, 5 Caledonian Road, N1 9DX, UK.
AGOTIC appeal on Tamil children to Mr. Olara Ottunu
Special representative of UN Secretary General
(AGOTIC -Tel/Fax: +94-1-57385 Email : monoraj sri.lanka.net)
The Action Group of Tamils in Colombo sent out an appeal on the arrival to Sri Lanka of the UN's special envoy on children and armed conflict. But AGOTIC says its statement, reproduced here, was unfortunately 'blacked out' by the Colombo media.
We urge Mr. Olara Otunnu - special representative of the UN Secretary General - to especially visit conflict areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka, meet LTTE representatives and obtain firsthand information on the lives of Tamil children living in conditions of armed conflict.
We also wish to draw Mr. Otunnu's attention to some salient aspects of the issue.
The international community has been justifiably concerned about the plight of children in armed conflict. Children invariably are disproportionately affected in such conflicts, and the armed conflict in Sri Lanka is no exception.
The armed conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil people began in earnest in July 1979, when President JR Jayawardene ordered Brigadier Weeratunga to "eradicate terrorism" in six months.
That year, the Sri Lankan armed forces unleashed the draconian counter-insurgency measure of collective punishment against the Tamil people.
Tamil children were worst affected by this indiscriminate application of violence. And the government has continued and intensified the collective punishment of Tamils with utter disregard for its impact on children.
Tens of thousands of Tamil children have been orphaned. Thousands have died in indiscriminate artillery shelling and aerial bombing, often carried out blindly at night while many more have been crippled.
Severe food restrictions including on infant milk-food imposed in June 1990, have led to widespread starvation. And malnutrition is rampant among Tamil children in the north. In the Mullaitivu district, for example, 40% of children suffer from third degree malnutrition.
Numerous schools have been damaged or destroyed by Sri Lankan armed forces and many others converted into camps for the armed forces or Tamil refugees. Consequently, the education of the vast majority of Tamil children has been massively disrupted. (about 20,000 Tamil children in Mullaitivu district are unable to attend schools).
The adverse effect on the next generation of Tamils is obvious - the Tamil society will be burdened by large numbers of physically maimed and mentally undeveloped adults in the near future.
Yet the government continues to deliberately target Tamil children as part of its counter-insurgency tactic of applying collective punishment against the Tamil people. Meanwhile, the government's avowed 'compassion' for Tamil children fools no one.
AGOTIC unreservedly condemns this genocidal destruction of the next generation of Tamils.
In the meantime, the Sri Lanka government has discovered 'compassion' for Tamil children allegedly recruited by the LTTE.
It is a matter for the LTTE to respond to the government's allegation, but AGOTIC is constrained to draw attention to the following points:
Article 38(2) of the United Nations Convention on The Rights of the Child provides that "States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities." We have not seen any evidence to prove that the LTTE has induced Tamil children below the age of 15 to take "a direct part in hostilities".
Sri Lanka has failed to substantiate its allegation that the LTTE employs children in hostilities - the government has produced no photographic evidence of LTTE cadre killed in battle who could be children. The so-called 'confessions' under interrogation of 'captured' Tamil children trotted out by the government cannot be taken seriously, especially while there is widespread use of torture by the armed forces.
Indeed, AGOTIC is appalled by the cynical management of information to exonerate the government and pallor the LTTE.
The government-owned Sunday Observer (3 May 1998), for example, made no reference to the plight of thousands of Tamil children internally displaced or dying as a result of the government's policy of calculated genocide. Instead, the newspaper reported unsubstantiated hearsay information about the alleged recruitment of children by the LTTE.
Another example is the book titled, 'Children: the invisible soldiers', by Rachel Brett and Margaret McCallum, published by the Swedish Save the Children Fund. The authors collected the data through questionnaires sent to selected NGOs in Sri Lanka (and other countries)
AGOTIC regrets that the authors did not visit Sri Lanka to verify the data given in the completed questionnaires.
No attempt was made to expose the government's deliberate tactic of damaging beyond repair large sections of future generations of Tamils by denying food to, and destroying the educational infrastructure of, Tamil children.
Indeed, Tamil children are most at risk from the collective punishment applied by the government on the Tamil People.
Further, AGOTIC was shocked to read the AFP news agency report (3 May) that former UNICEF representative Brita Ostberg alleged that "If the LTTE does not recruit children, they will have very few fighters."
The crux of the issue is that Tamil children are at risk primarily because the government is waging war against a section of its own people. UNICEF must demand that the government stops this war immediately, lifts all restrictions on medical and food supplies and spares the Tamil children.
If UNICEF fails to do this, it will be betraying countless Tamil children living in Sri Lanka.
Dr. S Sathananthan
EVIDENCE OF A TORTURE VICTIM
(Extract from the report of the "Women's Development and Information Unit" - U.K.
This report was published in the "Tamil Guardian" of Saturday May 9, 1998)
The British adjudicator in the case, Miss K. Eshun, affirmed during proceedings at London's Lincoln House that she found Vijayakumar Jeganmogan's story utterly believable.
Among other things, his evidence showed how 'Tiger hunting' in Sri Lanka has become a mighty business - arguably one of the biggest money extortion rackets in the Island.
Along with the usual accommodation bills, Tamil residents in Colombo's lodges caught up 'protection taxes' to the police to help secure release after the inevitable arrests that occur during routine round-ups.
Jeganmogan has suffered immeasurably, not only in Colombo's prison but also penniless on the streets of Hong Kong after escaping from the island. He's now a manual worker in London, but is just one of the tens of thousands of Tamils in Britain longing to return to their homeland.
But the ongoing war and its attendant evils have made life for Tamils there an uncertainty, or at the very least a debilitating trauma.
He's only one of the few granted asylum here in Britain, but says his dream is simply to lay his head on his mother's lap. He told his story to the Women's Development and Information Unit.
I was staying in a Colombo lodge. They just came... like a round up.... they came there and arrested four of us, the younger people. And they took us to a cell.
There were more than a hundred people in the small cell so we could only stand.... we couldn't sit there because a hundred people you know. We had to stand like that for seven hours. There was one man, he was 64 years old, he had to stand there like that too.
The new cell was the same size as the old one but with only 20 people, so we could lie down. But it was very smelly because of the toilet. 100 or 120 people had used that toilet, so how would you feel? The people who were there, they used to buy some cardboard as a seat or bed or anything, because the floor's very bad smelly.
Anticipation of torture
The next day, I think it was 18 November (because they arrested me on 17 November 1993)...next day the inspector came with another inspector. They called our names, my name and the other one arrested with me. They said : "You have to go to the CTB headquarters" and they just went away. At that time, the others said : "Careful, that place is the place where you get beaten up", so we were really worried about what was going to happen.
Sinhalese deserters are tortured too
After 2 or 3 hours we went to the CTB headquarters in Borella.... they put us in small cells. There was another boy, I think he was a Sinhalese who ran away from the army, and they put him there and he didn't talk to us.... until after we got beaten, then he talked to us... he had also been beaten before that.
The man who came with the inspector before that, he came and called our names.
First he called the other boy's name, he was a bit younger than I. I was 19 years old and he was 18 years old, but he's a bit smaller, you know. So they called him first and then he came back after half an hour. He had lots of red marks on his body. He was just crying, he never said anything to me, he just sat there. Then they called my name, I was really scared. They took me to the Inspector's office.
There was a table and chair in the room and behind him there was a row of brushes, there were sticks, every size of sticks. There was one thin stick, then thicker and thicker, longer, shorter, the big thick one has a rubber cover on it.
He took a very thin long stick and hit it on the table and said : "Are you a Tiger?". He asked me in Tamil and I said : "No, I'm not a Tiger". And he said, "Okay, I'm going to take a statement, you have to tell me the truth". And he was asking about my family, how old I was, what I was doing before I came to Colombo. I told him the true story, because I had nothing to hide. So after that when he finished, he said "When did you join the Tigers?" I said "I never joined the Tigers". And he started to beat me with the stick on my back. It was very think and very painful. And I still said "No, I never joined the Tigers". And he put that stick back.
I just watched him, what he was going to do, what stick he was going to take. I couldn't think of anything else. And he took a bigger stick with the round handle on it. He came to me and went to beat my head, so I tried to block it with my hand, I still have the scars.
He started to beat me and said, "If you say you are a Tiger I will stop, If you say you are a Tiger, I will stop". I didn't say anything "No, no" I said, "If I'm not a Tiger why do I have to say I'm a Tiger?" And he started to beat me harder and harder.
At one point my skin broke and blood was everywhere. He showed me some other blood - like black spots in places around the room and he said "If you don't say you are a Tiger, you see the blood all here?" So then I said "Okay", I will say I'm a Tiger", And he said "Okay, I will take a statement tomorrow, or later. You can go now",.... after half an hour of beating.
But at that time, when you get beaten up like that you can't say "no". You can say "no", for only a few minutes..... even for half an hour you can say "no". But after that you can't. And after a certain time, even if we say "yes", they don't care. They know we say "yes" because of that beating.
The compassion of other victims
When we arrived back the others knew we were going to arrive like this. They always used to make something ready for you like bed. They'd buy new cardboard and fold the cardboard and make it like a pillow.
And they'd buy some ointment from the old lady who used to come there. If you have money, if we gave her money, you could buy anything. So they always used to pay money to her and buy some cardboard and ointment, to prepare for our arrival.
When we arrived, they'd start to massage us everywhere like that.
Routine torture in custody
They don't call the person after that. They just call randomly. They will ask you what your name is and take your details. Then, after two hours you have to go with them and you will come back like that, where you can't even walk.
So when they take people to the 'beating place' we arrange nice things to take care of them when they come back. They took me about three times. The first two times I was beaten up by them.
But the third time my father was there and he paid some money to the inspector who had been beating me. The inspector said, "Next time when I call him, tell him to just sign the papers I'm showing him so I won't beat him... I'll put him in a safer place and you can take him out from there". So my father paid him money and the next time when they called me they didn't beat me up, they just said, "Sign this paper".
If they think he's a rich man - or if they think he can look like a Tiger, if they can show others he looks like a Tiger - they keep him there to get more money. Inside it's just the money business.
In the end, my father ended up paying about two hundred and fifty thousand rupees. But that first time he paid a hundred thousand (at that time £1,450) to stop the beating and ten thousand for the policeman with whom I was staying so he could come and visit me whenever he wants.
After that, they took me to a big prison. There were more than 600 people there, all political prisoners like me.
Some, they beat up badly.... and (if) nobody responds for that with money they'll end up as dead bodies in some Colombo lake.
But my father started to pay so I knew that wouldn't happen to me.
At the end, he paid 400,000 to get me out. And he paid about 100,000 to an agent. He told the agent after I arrived in London he'd pay the rest of the many, but when we got as far as Hong Kong, the agent started asking for money, like blackmailing me. I just ran away from him.
I worked there for two or three months. When I was in Hong Kong, Chandrika came to power. She had said that when she came to power they were going to make peace so I went back with an emergency passport. I obtained it in the High Commission in Hong Kong. I went back to Colombo.
Peacetime in Sri Lanka
After four days, they arrested me (8 January 1996; I'd got there on the 4th). I showed them all the papers for my release from the court orders and everything. They didn't care. They just threw away the papers and took me. They started to beat me in the police station. My father was there and straight away he came to the police station and paid money to get me out of there. The senior officer said, "You're on the blacklist because after we released you we tried to find you but never found you here.... after that you went on the blacklist". I showed him the passport and said : "See, I've been in Hong Kong". They said, "Don't give me that. Everyone can show something like this".
At the time there was to be peace, but they still arrested and beat me. So my father spent more money to get me out and hid me in his friend's house for nearly fifteen days. I went to Bangkok to my uncle who lives there and he arranged to send me to China. After that, they sent me here to London. They paid £8,000 to the agent.
Army operations affect entire family
By that time my family had sold three quarters of the farm. But after 1996, they couldn't go back to the farm because of the Sri Lankan military attacks after peace talks had broken down. The army went in there so nobody could go. If you go there you never return.
An Appeal to
The United Nations
Sub-Commission on the Promotion and
Protection of Human Rights
Un appel à Nations Unies
Sous-Commission de la promotion et
de la protection des droits de l'homme
Una Ilamada a Naciones Unidas
Sub-Comisión para la Promocion y Proteccion
de Derechos Humanos
54 Session / Sesiones
29 / 07 / 2002 -- 16 / 08 /2002
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR
Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH
Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos
(Established in 1990)
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR
Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH
Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos
(Established in 1990)