OISL in acid test over witness submissions on ‘Gota camp’

[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 April 2015, 21:30 GMT]
The revelations on the so-called Gota camp, a secret incarceration camp run by the occupying Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) in Trincomalee, where at least 700 former LTTE members were illegally detained for more than five years, will be an acid test to conclude whether the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) has taken the eyewitness submissions seriously, one of the survivors who got out from the notorious detention just a few days before the regime change told TamilNet on Saturday. The whereabouts of those detained at the undisclosed ‘Gota’ camp also constitute a serious question on the conduct of the ‘new’ regime in South. In the meantime, informed sources in Colombo told TamilNet that the SL military has given a figure of less than 400 former LTTE members as being alive in its custody throughout the island.

“If there are only a few in the detention, then there has been a systematic slaughter of incarcerated Tamils over a long period of time throughout the last five years. The crime was not only committed at the end of the Vanni war as it has been projected outside,” an activist involved in protecting the witnesses commented.

“We have eyewitness reports that there were at least 700 former LTTE members at one of these undisclosed camps last year. What has happened to them,” the activist asked.

Only a few have managed to come out of the secret detention and they have submitted their reports to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), the activist told TamilNet.

Recently, when Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran took up the issue in the SL Parliament, the incumbent SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe ended up repeating the blanket denial given by the SLN. There were no investigations on the matter. The SL regime has also denied the knowledge on the existence of any such camp in the past.

But, at least two survivors have managed to secure their release before the recent regime change. These witnesses confirm that there were at least 700 former LTTE members in the highly defended incarceration camp.

The surviving witnesses from the notorious Gota camp told TamilNet that Sinhala soldiers were tightly guarding the incarceration camp. There were different zones of the camp, separating the detainees from each other. Only a few, around 35, were detained with their families including their children. All of them were persons who either ‘surrendered’ or who were filtered away from the people at Vadduvaakal in Mullaiththeevu at the end of the genocidal onslaught on Vanni in May 2009, the witnesses further said.

The postponement of the OISL report came as a shock to the survivors. “The postponement has given legitimacy to the claims of Mr Wickramasinghe,” one of the survivors complained.

While the regime in Colombo keeps denying any knowledge of the camp, the SL military intelligence is trying to block the applicants of Habeas Corpus cases being heard at Mullaiththeevu courts from witnessing the proceedings.


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