Bishop protests Police, Navy rapes and murders

[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 April 2001, 03:08 GMT]
“The atrocities of the Sri Lanka Navy personnel in Mannar district are growing bad to worse daily. All my efforts to get the Sri Lanka Navy to respect the basic human rights of the people so affected by the prolonged war are proving futile. I have again appealed to the Commander General of the Sri Lankan Navy for redress in the name of the civil public of Mannar,” Rt.Rev. Rayappu Joseph Bishop of Mannar said in a statement issued Saturday.

Following is the text of the Bishop’s statement:

This is a report of Navy brutalities in the island of Mannar brought to my notice in the month of March 2001. All my efforts to get the Navy to respect the basic human rights of the people so affected by the prolonged war are proving futile. Their atrocities are growing bad to worse daily and I have again appealed to the Commander General of the Sri Lankan Navy for redress in the name of the civil public of Mannar.

1. On the 19th of March 2001, about ten Navy personnel entered a private lodge at Uppukulam in Mannar at 10.30 pm and arrested two women by name Wijikala (22 years) and expectant mother already with one child and Sivamani (24 years) a mother of three children.

They had been living in the refugee camps in Vavuniya and had come to Mannar on private business.

After the arrest on their way to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), the Navy personnel started to make sexual advances on these two helpless females and on arrival at the SIU, Mannar at 11.30 in the same night Wijikala was taken in and along with some Navy personnel, some SIU personnel joined up in a room and forcefully stripped her naked, tied her hands and laid her on a table and sexually assaulted her in ways so inhuman and so brutal. Consequently, two of these men brutally raped her repeatedly.

In the meanwhile, Sivamani who was kept in a white van used by the Navy had been made naked by the Navy and sexually molested by them and one of them blindfolded her with his stocking. The driver of the vehicle was holding both her hands behind and a Navy man forcefully raped her. After a while Sivamani was also taken with her dresses on, to the above room and was forcibly stripped naked again and in a brutal way sexually assaulted by all present in the room while rest of the Navy personnel were peeping into this sex torture room through the openings on the walls. Their cries could only gbe heard by the detainees at the SIU. When they, in tears related their trauma to me on my visit to them in the company of a unit in the prison lock-up in Mannar on the 27th instant, they told me that they will identify most of these criminals and they mentioned frequently the names of one Raja (a Tamil speaking one) and of one Wimal of the SIU who were mercilessly extra brutal to them. They also said that the person whom they came to know as the OIC of the SIU was also taking part in this brutality.

These victims then, were threatened with further torture and were forced to sign a statement to say that they were from the LTTE. Three days later they were taken to the DMO, Mannar. These victims were told by the SIU that they will be killed if they revealed anything to the DMO. The helpless victims told the DMO out of fear, being in the presence of the SIU, that they had no complaints to make and they were briskly taken away by the SIU. This is how the medical examination of these poor victims was made to end up. The victims were taken before the Mannar Magistrate by the SIU only on the 27th instant at 6.30 pm.

On my appeal to the magistrate and to the Deputy Provincial Director of Health Services, Mannar in the name of the public, a fresh medical examination of these two unfortunate victims had been undertaken by the DMO, Mannar on 30.03.2001.

02.On 13.03.2001 the Navy at Thalaimannar had assaulted inhumanly seven fishermen with wires resulting in large lacerations. One victim had been beaten with wires and boots and his condition was near fatal. These men had been brought to the DMO, Mannar and he would have his report of these brutal assaults by the Navy. No further action has been taken by the victims for fear of being more tortured by the Navy. This type of tortures are very commonly resorted to by the Navy in Mannar and along with other human rights violations perpetrated by some of the other Armed Forces, victims are brought to the hospital almost daily. The helpless victims are unwilling to be taken out of Mannar for better treatment for fear of their safety. Almost all such incidents ar hushed up with no action taken on the criminal elements of the security force for fear of more serious consequences at their inhuman hands.

03.On 28.02.2001 at 10 pm Navy personnel took into custody one Kandiah Uthayakumar (42) of Chavakadu, Mannar, a father of seven children, only breadwinner of this large displaced family. His dead body was handed over to the Mannar Base Hospital at 3 am on the same night by the Navy. This death was due to hypoxia following strangulation by the Navy. An eyewitness, a daughter of the victim had seen the Navy personnel strangling her father's neck already at the time of arrest.

04. In spite of strict orders given by the local Navy Commander, as I learn from him in Mannar, that the navy should not collect fish from the poor fishermen who are permitted only off shore fishing and that for a few hours during the daytime, some navy points (Pallimunai etc.) in the island of Mannar continue to collect by force, a good portion of the fish from the merge catch of the poor fishermen on the pretext of extending the fishing hours by one or two hours. Thus, they continue to drive the poorer fisher-families to starvation and misery.

I have indicated to the Navy Commander General that such a behaviour alienates communities from communities and are counter-productive of all possibilities of eventual peace in our dear motherland. I have expressed to him my hopes that he will take personal interest to bring to books these criminals in the Navy and enable the civilians in the island of Mannar to live with their human rights respected by his men.


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