Fear rules Mannar

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 May 2001, 10:23 GMT]
"Human rights abuses are frequent and widespread in Mannar. The ordinary people here have experienced so much terror that they have got no idea now that they have the right to even live," said Selvam Adaikalanathan, MP for Vanni, describing situation in Mannar Wednesday.

"Sivamani and Wijikala are actually exceptions to the rule, most persons who have been severely tortured here are so terrified of reprisals that they do not come forward to speak the truth before the law", lamented Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar. Thirteen persons have been reported missing here since January. The families of only two have ventured to officially register their complaints.

Mannar Bishop Rt.Rev.Rayappu Joseph.
The Mannar citizens' receive threatening calls daily by persons who demand to know the whereabouts of Sivamani and Wijikala, the two women who were tortured and raped allegedly by personnel of the Mannar Counter Subversive Unit on 19 March. "We get at least three or four threatening calls a day. The callers say all the members of the Citizens' Committee would be wiped out once the Sivamani, Wijikala case is over. On 9 April, when the two women were released on bail, personnel from the Military Intelligence unit of the 21-5 brigade in Mannar went to the Citizens' Committee, demanding to know the whereabouts of the Wijikala and Sivamani and calling them whores.

Wijikala's mother is also being threatened by members of the Sri Lankan security forces, according to sources.

"There are parties with vested interests who are trying their best to threaten and intimidate Sivamani, Wijikala and all those who spoke up for them here," Mannar Citizens committee sources said Tuesday.

A.S.M Faszmi, the Mannar journalist who has regularly reported human rights abuses in the district, was subjected to interrogation and harassment by the Sri Lanka Army intelligence in the town. Mr. Faszmi lives in fear of his life and may soon be compelled to leave Mannar if conditions do not change, his relatives said.

"If one anyone speaks up for the basic rights of the people here, for the fundamental rights that are due to them as citizens of Sri Lanka, he or she is invariably branded a Tiger by the government, the security forces and by the Sinhala and English press.

Actually they are doing a great political service to the LTTE because all Tamils have been denied one basic right or another in this country", points out Mr.'Selvam' Adaikalanathan MP, the leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation.

The Mannar Bishop too echoed the same sentiments, referring to the persistent references in sections of the Sinhala and English press in Colombo.

"As citizens of this country the people of Mannar do have inalienable and fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution. At least these should be respected. Otherwise, it would be the greatest sham to call them citizens of Sri Lanka," said Mr. Adaikalanathan.

'Selvam' Adaikalanathan speaking to fisher-folk on the Talaimannar beach. (Photo:TamilNet)


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