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Sexual Violence in Conflict: Sri Lanka - detention

and torture 2009-201404 June 2014


Next week, the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict is due to take place in London, co-hosted by
the U!s "o#ei$n Sec#eta#y, %illiam &a$ue and the Special En'oy fo# the UN &i$h Commissione# fo# (efu$ees,
)n$elina *olie+
,n the #un up to the ESVC summit, we #e'isit the mountin$ e'idence which documents the widesp#ead,
systematic and on-$oin$ use of sexual 'iolence by S#i Lanka!s milita#y a$ainst -amils, that occu#s
with absolute impunity+
See ou# p#e'ious featu#es.
An orgy of rape in final days /01 *un 10234
Rape, Sexual Assault and Forced Prostitution of Tamils in Military-Run in IDP camps/05 *un 10234
Sexual Violence in onflict! Sri "an#a $ detention and torture %&&'-%&()
6hoto$#aph &(%
7espite the end of the a#med conflict, the use of sexual 'iolence by S#i Lanka!s
milita#y a$ainst -amil women and men continued, with -amils #outinely a##ested and
detained indefinitely usin$ the count#y!s d#aconian anti-te##o# laws+
-he#e a#e on-$oin$ #epo#ts of sexual 'iolence a$ainst -amils in detention to the
p#esent day, with many 'ictims #ecountin$ sexual 'iolence used as a means of
to#tu#e to ext#act confessions+
,n 1021, -amils )$ainst Genocide /-)G4, examined witness testimonies of -amils
depo#ted back to S#i Lanka+ ,n its #epo#t !(etu#nees at (isk. 7etention )nd -o#tu#e in
S#i Lanka!, -)G noted.
The majority of the cases that reported abuse reported similar forms of
physical torture, with 6 verified as having experienced additional forms of
sexual torture. In all of the cases reviewed, judges found legitimate claims
of severe torture to be supported by photographic evidence and the
medical reports as well as through psychological assessment. everal of
the applicants suffer from continued physical pain as well as forms of
mental illness caused by severe trauma.8
Ea#ly last yea#, &uman (i$hts %atch, in a 232-pa$e #epo#t entitled 9%e %ill -each
:ou a Lesson8 - Sexual Violence a$ainst -amils by S#i Lankan Secu#ity "o#ces;,
detailed <= cases of #ape, includin$ that of 52 men, 32 women, and th#ee boys a$ed
unde# 2>+ )ll cases we#e #epo#ted to ha'e occu##ed f#om 100?-1021 in both official
and sec#et detention cent#es ac#oss S#i Lanka+
Object 1
&(% stated that the #epo#t only accounts fo# 9a tiny f#action of custodial #ape8+ @any
of the cases followed simila# patte#ns of detention, followed by to#tu#e and #ape by
secu#ity fo#ces, whilst bein$ inte##o$ated about 9L--E acti'ities8+
Victims #epo#ted bein$ fo#ced to si$n confessions in Sinhalese, a lan$ua$e they did
not unde#stand, as well as bein$ fo#ced to identify and name othe# potential
9suspects8+ Some of the 'ictims #ecounted that they si$ned Aconfessions; and pointed
out people as L--E cad#es, knowin$ that they we#e not, simply to put an end to the
to#tu#e+
-amils #etu#nin$ f#om ab#oad we#e also shown photo$#aphs of anti-$o'e#nment
p#otests that took place in 6a#is and London, and fo#ced to identify those in the
ima$es+
&(% noted. BIn all of the cases documented, the acts of rape and sexual violence
were accompanied by other forms of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading
treatment by state security forces.B
Cne 51-yea#-old woman, detained in ilinochchi in )p#il 1021, told &(%.
I was beaten up and tortured continuously. !n the second day, a man
came to my room and raped me. I was raped by different men on at least
three days. I can"t remember how many times. They would always touch
my private parts after they raped me. They spo#e in inhala but also spo#e
some bro#en Tamil. I signed a confession statement as I wanted the rapes
to stop. $hile I was in detention, my family tried to lodge a complaint with
the %&'( )%ational &uman 'ights (ommission* but they refused to register
a complaint. +y family also approached some members of parliament.
%obody helped us.8
) 2<-yea#-old -amil boy, detained in *affna in No'embe# 100D, said.
!ne officer performed sexual acts in front of me. &e then raped me. I lost
consciousness. I was bleeding heavily from my anus.8
,n No'embe# last yea#, the EEC #epo#ted on 21 cases of men and women who we#e
subFected to sexual 'iolence in detention in 1025+
See he#e fo# the EEC #epo#t, by fo#me# co##espondent to S#i Lanka and autho# of
!Still Countin$ the 7ead!, "#ances &a##ison+
-he latest e'idence eme#$ed f#om a #epo#t published as #ecently as "eb#ua#y this
yea# - !,n -nfinished $ar. Torture and exual /iolence in ri 0an#a 122341256! -
by :asmin Sooka, an autho# of the UN 6anel of Expe#ts #epo#t on mass at#ocities in
S#i Lanka, -he Ea# &uman (i$hts Committee of En$land and %ales /E&(C4 and -he
,nte#national -#uth GampH *ustice 6#oFect, S#i Lanka, detailed #epo#ts of sexual
'iolence in detention ca##ied out f#om 100D, till the be$innin$ of this yea#+
-he #epo#t includes 30 swo#n statements f#om -amil witnesses, #ecountin$
abductions and to#tu#e that all occu##ed within the time f#ame of @ay 100D to
"eb#ua#y 1023, with o'e# half of the abductions ha'in$ taken place du#in$ 1025 and
1023+
,ll detainees were sexually assaulted, with many witnesses 7uite young
and having no experience of sexual intercourse. ome detainees were
mothers of babies or young children. +ost detainees, male and female,
were raped, confirming that they had experienced vaginal or anal
penetration or both. +any were raped on more than one occasion with most
sexual violence occurring in their private holding cell. +ost were raped after
enduring repeated physical torture in the torture chamber. $itnesses report
being raped violently, usually amid verbal abuse and derision by one or two
men, sometimes more. $itnesses allege that the men did not wear
condoms when raping them.8
)n 2>-yea#-old male detainee said.
The door to where the women were #ept was slightly open. I saw a female
cadre lying on her bac# on the floor. he was totally na#ed. I clearly saw a
soda bottle shoved inside her vagina. &er arms were spread out wide, as
were her legs. The door was not open enough to see the other two girls. I
could not tell if the girl or the others were alive. %one of them was ma#ing
any sound and the girl I saw was not moving.8
7etention locations a#e mainly in the No#th-East, includin$ @anna#, *affna,
ilinochchi, Va'uniya, 6-, -#incomalee and Eatticaloa, whe#e a#bit#a#y a##est and
disappea#ances continue despite the passin$ of fi'e yea#s+ ) numbe# of 'ictims also
desc#ibe facin$ sexual 'iolence whilst detained in Colombo+
Ext#acts f#om the #epo#t published below.
The evidence of the witnesses suggested that the security forces were
wor#ing together and in most instances there was more than one branch
involved in the detention and torture. 8iven that the abductors sometimes
travel to high security 9ones or military camps they would re7uire inter:
agency cooperation amongst the various branches of the security forces, as
well as orders and clearances from superiors to enter these areas. +ore
broadly travelling through heavily militarised areas with fre7uent
chec#points would also re7uire the involvement of other units of the
security forces.B
;Interrogation was almost always about 0TT< involvement despite the
interrogators, in many cases, being in possession of the answers and often
already having the evidence to prove it.
$hat they purported to be loo#ing for usually appeared to be a wider
understanding both of the status of existing networ#s as well as historical
events. They wanted informers. ,nother #ey motive appeared to be the
punishment of those who testified before the 0essons 0earned (ommission
or whose families reported cases to the &uman 'ights (ommission, or those
who had peacefully protested war crimes and human rights abuses from
abroad.
02 June 2014
Next week, the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict is due to
take place in London, co-hosted by the U!s "o#ei$n Sec#eta#y, %illiam
&a$ue and the Special En'oy fo# the UN &i$h Commissione# fo# (efu$ees,
)n$elina *olie+
,n the #un up to the ESVC summit, we #e'isit the mountin$ e'idence which
documents the widesp#ead, systematic and on-$oin$ use of sexual
'iolence by S#i Lanka!s milita#y a$ainst -amils, that occu#s with absolute
impunity+
See yeste#day!s featu#e. )n o#$y of #ape in final days /01 *un 10234
(ape, Sexual )ssault and "o#ced 6#ostitution of -amils in @ilita#y-(un in
,76 camps
6hoto$#aph &(% - )#unachalam Camp, @enik "a#m 2D )u$ust 100D
)s the a#med conflict d#ew to an end in @ay 100D, an
estimated 500,000 -amils, who had faced #epeated displacement, shellin$
and a se'e#e lack of humanita#ian aid, we#e fo#ced into ,76 camps #un by
the milita#y and detained the#e fo# se'e#al months on end+
(epo#ts of #ape, sexual assault and fo#ced p#ostitution #in$s #un by the
milita#y soon be$an to eme#$e f#om the camps+
) -amil medic, based in the U who had been wo#kin$ as an aid wo#ke# in
the Vanni du#in$ the a#med conflict befo#e bein$ detained in the noto#ious
@enik "a#m camp, 7amil'any uma#, told -he Cbse#'e#.
BSexual abuse is somethin$ that was a common thin$, that , pe#sonally
saw+ ,n the 'isito# a#ea #elati'es would be the othe# side of the fence and
we would be in the camp+ Gi#ls came to wait fo# thei# #elati'es and milita#y
office#s would come and touch them, and that!s somethin$ , saw+
B-he $i#ls usually didn!t talk back to them, because they knew that in the
camp if they talked anythin$ could happen to them+ ,t was Iuite open,
e'e#yone could see the milita#y office#s touchin$ the $i#ls,B
B-amil $i#ls usually don!t talk about sexual abuse, they won!t open thei#
mouths about it, but , hea#d the office#s we#e $i'in$ the women money o#
food in #etu#n fo# sex+ -hese people we#e despe#ate fo# e'e#ythin$+B
6#ostitution #ackets we#e p#e'alent, despite $o'e#nment officials bein$
made awa#e of the p#actice, said inte#national aid wo#ke#s+ ,nte#national
humanita#ian a$encies had little o# no access, due to se'e#e #est#ictions
placed by the $o'e#nment+
Cne aid wo#ke#, who #epo#ted p#ostitution #ackets in 6ulmoddai camp,
told -he )ust#alian,
B,t!s been b#ou$ht to the attention of senio# $o'e#nment officials but no
one seems to be doin$ anythin$ about it+B
B,t!s ha#d to know whethe# it!s coe#ci'e o# not, but the#e is an a'e#a$e of
th#ee families li'in$ to a tent and it can be ext#emely difficult t#yin$ to $et
p#i'acy+ :ou can ima$ine the milita#y comin$ in and askin$ fo# somethin$ in
#etu#n fo# mo#e space o# mo#e fa'ou#s+B
Cne woman, with links to the camps, told Sky News of #apes and
disappea#ances within the camps.
B, belie'e the#e is sexual assault and ha#assment in the camps+ , belie'e
that these child#en and youn$ ones a#e $oin$ to $et disappea#ed, but we
don!t know what is happenin$ to them, because the#e is no info#mation,
the#e is no t#anspa#ency, we Fust don!t know what is happenin$+B
-he S#i Lankan $o'e#nment #eFected all #epo#ts of sexual 'iolence in the
,76 camps, with officials often accusin$ fellow detainees o# inte#national aid
wo#ke#s of abuse, o# dismissin$ #epo#ts as consensual+
6alitha ohona, then Sec#eta#y to the "o#ei$n @inist#y, and subseIuently
S#i Lanka!s 6e#manent (ep#esentati'e to the UN, #eFected any alle$ations of
sexual 'iolence by the state!s secu#ity fo#ces as Babsolute #ubbishB+
B-hese Jmilita#yK a#e the $uys who a#e winnin$ the wa# - they could ha'e
#aped e'e#y sin$le woman on the way if they wanted to+ Not one sin$le
woman was #aped+B
7ismissin$ #epo#ts of p#ostitution #in$s, ohona added,
B, am su#e in a mass of people the#e may be indi'iduals who want to make
a Iuick buck one way o# anothe#, but you ha'e to #emembe# the tents a#e
so close to$ethe# you can!t do anythin$ without the enti#e nei$hbo#hood
knowin$+ ,f you had a #acket $oin$, thousands of people would know about
it+B
S#i Lanka!s 7efence Sec#eta#y, Gotabaya (aFapaksa, accused the E#itish
-amil aid wo#ke#, 7amil'any uma# of fab#icatin$ the sto#y in an inte#'iew
with &eadlines -oday.
BNow, she J7amil'any uma#K says that the#e had been all these alle$ed
#ape and mu#de# and all these thin$s+ Now she is one pe#son who will $et
att#acted by soldie#s, because she is so diffe#ent f#om othe#s+
, want to know whethe# she was #aped+ She was the#e fo# one yea#+ She
came with the ,76s, and she was in the ,76 camps+B
-he pe#manent sec#eta#y to the @inist#y of 7isaste# @ana$ement and
&uman (i$hts, (aFi'a %iFesinha, statin$ that alle$ations of #ape by the
milita#y lacked sufficient details to be substantiated, told -he Cbse#'e#.
B%e #ecei'ed a #epo#t that a soldie# went into a tent at 22pm and came out
at 5am+ ,t could ha'e been sex fo# pleasu#e, it could ha'e been sex fo#
fa'ou#s, o# it could ha'e been a discussion on )ncient G#eek philosophy, we
don!t know+B
Cn anothe# occasion when asked by a Sky News #epo#te# about the
alle$ations of sexual 'iolence within the camps, @# %iFesinha #eplied.
B-he#e a#e a few blue eyed child#en in that camp, so you know that some
of the NGCs ha'e had a Folly $ood time when they we#e up in Va'uniya, so
when you $o up Fust ha'e a look and t#y and identify them+B
7espite the passin$ of fi'e yea#s, fea# of #ep#isal, psycholo$ical t#auma and
social sti$ma, ha'e #esulted in many 'ictims #emainin$ silent+
&e#e is an ext#act f#om the testimony of one woman, published in a #epo#t
- !)n Unfinished %a#. -o#tu#e and Sexual Violence in S#i Lanka 100DL1023!
- by :asmin Sooka, an autho# of the UN 6anel of Expe#ts #epo#t on mass
at#ocities in S#i Lanka, -he Ea# &uman (i$hts Committee of En$land and
%ales /E&(C4 and -he ,nte#national -#uth G *ustice 6#oFect, S#i Lanka.
-he fi#st time the soldie#s #aped he# in the #ehabilitation camp, she
sta$$e#ed to the toilet to wash the blood off, befo#e #etu#nin$ to he# tent in
silence+ She didn;t b#eathe a wo#d fo# shame M and fea# that one of the
othe# fo#me# -amil -i$e# #ebels in the tent mi$ht be an info#me#+
9, did not tell the othe# women ,;d been #aped as it is not somethin$ we
would discuss in ou# cultu#e+ , suspected the othe# women in my tent we#e
also bein$ #aped but , did not ask them about it+ C'e# the enti#e pe#iod ,
was in this #ehabilitation camp none of us e'e# spoke about the #apes+8
,t;s ha#d to ima$ine the loneliness and mist#ust in that tent+ Vasantha
noticed sc#atch ma#ks f#om fin$e#nails on othe# women;s faces+ %hen they
washed in the open ai# showe#s, fully clothed, she spotted the b#uises on
thei# le$s+ Sometimes she hea#d sc#eamin$ f#om the main buildin$ whe#e
they we#e taken fo# inte##o$ation+ She watched othe# women bein$ taken
away at ni$ht and always #etu#nin$ 'ia the toilet and she knew why+
Vasantha was a 'i#$in until that ni$ht when two d#unken S#i Lankan
soldie#s placed a ba$ sp#ayed with pet#ol o'e# he# head and then #aped he#+
Some months late#, she was taken fo# inte##o$ation a$ain+ ) soldie# o#de#ed
he# to st#ip naked and when she t#ied to fi$ht him off, he knocked he# to
the $#ound and #aped he#, di$$in$ his nails into he# back so ha#d that the
sc#atches bled+ Eefo#e Vasantha could put he# ski#t back on a$ain, anothe#
man came into the #oom and sta#ted takin$ off his shi#t, t#ouse#s and
unde#wea#+ 9&e pushed me to the floo#+ , t#ied to put up a #esistance but he
#aped me+ , could smell the alcohol on his b#eath+ , was exhausted and
fainted+ , cannot #ecall clea#ly what was happenin$ but , hea#d doo#s bein$
opened and closed and , think othe# people came into the #oom+8 ,n pain
and bleedin$ hea'ily, Vasantha e'entually #etu#ned to he# tent, 'ia the
toilet once a$ain+
-he next time she was called fo# inte##o$ation, the soldie# used his
ci$a#ette butt to bu#n he# se'e#al times on the a#ms and thi$h, while sayin$
somethin$ in Sinhala that she couldn;t unde#stand+ Cnce he;d finished
#apin$ he#, a second man #aped he#+ Vasantha #emembe#s these fi#st two
smelt st#on$ly of ci$a#ettes+ ) thi#d man came, slapped he# ha#d when she
t#ied to #esist, and #aped he#+8 , think the#e was a fou#th and fifth man as
well,8 she says, 9, was in and out of consciousness by then+B
Jmo#eK
Eack$#ound
U "o#ei$n Sec#eta#y %illiam &a$ue calls fo#
pe#pet#ato#s of sexual 'iolence in S#i Lanka!s
conflict to be b#ou$ht to account, speakin$ in
Colombo, No' 1025
-he ESVC summit follows the 7ecla#ation of Commitment to End Sexual
Violence in Conflict, tabled by the @# &a$ue and endo#sed by two-thi#ds of
UN membe# states, which condemns the on-$oin$ use of sexual 'iolence in
conflicts and pled$ed to ensu#e Fustice fo# 'ictims+
S#i Lanka was hi$hli$hted by the US Sec#eta#y of State &illa#y Clinton as a
key count#y whe#e #ape was used as a tactic of wa#, in Cctobe# 100D, only
a few months afte# the a#med conflict ended+
)dd#essin$ an UN Secu#ity Council focused on #ape in wa#, she said.
BNow, #eadin$ the headlines, one mi$ht think that the use of #ape as a
tactic of wa# only happens occasionally, o# in a few places, like the
7emoc#atic (epublic of the Con$o o# Sudan+
-hat would be bad enou$h, but the #eality is much wo#se+ %e;'e seen #ape
used as a tactic of wa# befo#e in Eosnia, Eu#ma, S#i Lanka, and elsewhe#e+
,n too many count#ies and in too many cases, the pe#pet#ato#s of this
'iolence a#e not punished, and so this impunity encou#a$es fu#the# attacks+
Speakin$ in Colombo in No'embe# last yea#, the U "o#ei$n Sec#eta#y
%illiam &a$ue calledfo# accountability and Fustice fo# 'ictims of sexual
'iolence by S#i Lanka!s a#med fo#ces as pa#t of the !N-ime-o)ct! campai$n.
B-o date, too little has been done, to hold people to account fo# c#imes of
sexual 'iolence+ -he alle$ations include #epo#ts f#om the UN panel of
expe#ts that #ape was used by $o'e#nment fo#ces du#in$ the final sta$es of
the conflict, and befo#e+8
9Claims f#om &uman (i$hts %atch that sexual to#tu#e has been used to
ext#act confessions and continued conce#ns of the 'ulne#ability of the
women and $i#ls to sexual ha#assment and abuse, pa#ticula#ly the ninety
thousand wa# widows li'in$ in a#eas with a la#$e milita#y p#esence+8
C#$y of (ape in "inal 7ays
6hoto$#aph Channel 3
)s the a#med conflict d#ew to an end, S#i Lanka!s soldie#s committed acts
of sexual 'iolence a$ainst -amil women and men, both ci'ilians and L--E
cad#e, at will+
Cne S#i Lankan soldie# told Channel 3 in *uly 1022.
B-hey JS#i Lankan soldie#sK shoot people at #andom, stab people, #ape
them, cut thei# ton$ues out, cut women!s b#easts off+ , ha'e witnessed all
this with my own eyes+ , ha'e seen small child#en layin$ dead+B
B,f they wanted to #ape a -amil $i#l, they could Fust beat he# and do it+ ,f
he# pa#ents t#ied to stop them, they could beat them o# kill them+ ,t was
thei# empi#e+B
BCne day , saw a $#oup of six soldie#s #apin$ a youn$ -amil $i#l+ , saw this
with my own eyes+B
@uch of the photo$#aphic and 'ideo e'idence of sexual 'iolence in the final
sta$es of the a#med conflict eme#$ed in the fo#m of !t#ophy 'ideos!, filmed
by S#i Lankan soldie#s themsel'es whilst committin$ the c#imes+
Cne of the latest 'ideos to eme#$e depicts soldie#s pe#fo#min$ acts of
sexual 'iolence on the st#ipped, dead bodies of -amil L--E fi$hte#s+
Object 2
7esc#ibin$ the foota$e, acclaimed documenta#y make# and di#ecto# of !S#i
Lanka!s illin$ "ields!, Callum @ac#ae said,
BScatte#ed in the clea#in$ a#e the bodies of what appea# to be -amil -i$e#
#ebels+ -he women, but not the men, ha'e been st#ipped in a manna#
su$$estin$ sexual assault+ -hou$h many of these ima$es a#e too
dist#essin$ to be shown on tele'ision+
)t a couple of points as soldie#s lau$h, acts of $#otesIue sexual 'iolence
a#e pe#pet#ated on the bodies of one of the women+B
Simila#ly, the #ape and killin$ of L--E news ancho#, ,saiyap#iya, has come to
li$ht th#ou$h a se#ies of photo$#aphs depictin$ he# pa#tially naked in the
custody of milita#y pe#sonnel, befo#e bein$ sexually 'iolated and killed+
Object 3
7espite the $#owin$ numbe# of independently authenticated 'ideo foota$e
and photo$#aphs depictin$ soldie#s committin$ acts of sexual 'iolence, the
S#i Lankan $o'e#nment!s flatly #eFects all accusations+
(espondin$ to 'ideo foota$e published by Channel 3 News, the S#i Lankan
&i$h Commission in the U said in @a#ch this yea#.
B:ou# latest attempt to deni$#ate S#i Lanka is a continuation of you#
pe#nicious campai$n that has al#eady been exposed in the book Co##upted
*ou#nalism Channel 3 and S#i Lanka+
:ou# alle$ations a#e such unmiti$ated and unsubstantiated #ubbish that you
make e'en $utte# Fou#nalism appea# to be 6ulitOe# 6#iOe-winnin$
p#ofessionalism+
%hat makes you# Fou#nalism doubly dubious and obnoxiously unbalanced is
that you expect us to comment on foota$e which, in fai#ness, we ha'e not
e'en been $i'en the oppo#tunity of seein$ o# hea#in$+
,t is a pity that you# continuin$ p#opa$andist 'endetta a$ainst S#i Lanka
only continues to unde#mine the p#ocess of #econciliation and healin$ that
we ha'e unde#taken afte# a nea# th#ee-decade lon$ te##o#ist wa#+
,t is ce#tainly not $oin$ to help those in S#i Lanka you p#etend you a#e
helpin$ but who only wish to li'e in peace without exte#nal meddlin$ and
postu#in$+
:ou# c#ude Fou#nalism exposes both Callum and you# calumnyB+