UK to return refused Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka
[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 December 2011, 17:44 GMT]
Despite ongoing concerns over risks of torture in Sri Lanka, including to Tamils returning to Sri Lanka, the UK government continues to remove refused Sri Lankan asylum seekers, with a charter flight planned for 15 December, a UK-based activist group, Freedom from Torture (FfT) said. The group has recently launched a public action calling on the UK government to take urgent steps to ensure that they are not returning anyone to a serious risk of torture in Sri Lanka following its publication of forensically-documented evidence of ongoing torture in Sri Lanka.
The UK's role in pursuing an end to impunity and protecting those at risk of torture in Sri Lanka – including refused asylum seekers – was also the focus of a recent public event hosted by Freedom from Torture. The discussion panel included local MP and Shadow Minister for International Development, Rushanara Ali, the Director of Channel 4's 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields', Callum Macrae, Amnesty International's, Yolanda Foster and Jan Jananayagam from Tamils Against Genocide. The members of the panel responded to questions and comments from the floor – and offered their own insights
In the FfT's published report, "Out of the Silence: Ongoing torture in Sri Lanka“ the group said, "torture and ill-treatment perpetrated by state actors, both the military and the police, have continued in many parts of the country after the conflict ended in May 2009 and is still occurring in 2011."
Despite categorical denials from the government of Sri Lanka, the Committee also highlighted disturbing reports of "secret detention centres run by the Sri Lankan military intelligence and paramilitary groups where enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings have allegedly been perpetrated."
The group also quoted excerpts of a statement by a survivor of torture:
I was taken to a building. They asked questions like ‘what have you come back again?, ‘what did you do in the UK?’, ‘where is your brother?’ [an LTTE member]. I said I had no contact with him. They tortured me inside the room by removing my clothes and hitting me with burning irons. I was feeling a burning sensation all over my body. They kept me for two days and I found my body was all swollen. On the third day they put me inside the van. I thought they were going to shoot me. Later I realised that my family had given them some money and because of that I was released.”
Freedom from Torture is formerly the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, and has been working for 25 years to provide direct clinical services to survivors of torture who arrive in the UK as well as striving to protect and promote their rights. Since its inception, over 50,000 individuals have been referred for help.