Emergency and PTA promote torture - Adaikalanathan

[TamilNet, Thursday, 10 May 2001, 20:50 GMT]
"No self respecting Tamil will vote for the extension of the Emergency and its regulations. The Tamil people have been denied their fundamental right of freedom from torture for more than 25 years. The Sri Lankan security forces behave as though no Tamil has this fundamental right which is guaranteed to every citizen of this country in the constitution. Can you tell me how many Tamils were not subjected to torture in custody? The most pernicious methods of torture are practiced on the Tamils by the security forces today. Therefore I ask: are the Tamils citizens of this country or should they determine their own citizenship?" asked 'Selvam' A. Adaikalanathan, MP for the Vanni and the leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), speaking in Parliament Thursday on the vote to extend the state of Emergency.

Of the Tamil parties in Parliament, the TELO, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress and the Tamil United Liberation Front voted against the extension of the Emergency. The Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) and the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) voted for the extension.

The following are excerpts of Mr. Adaikalanathan's speech on the Emergency vote Thursday:

adaikkalanathan.jpg"The Emergency Regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act together encourage torture on Tamils by the Sri Lankan security forces. The PTA says that the confession of a person arrested under it is enough to indict him/her. Hence, torture becomes the inevitable means for the security forces to obtain confessions and convict Tamils. There is no need for investigation under the PTA to argue a case. This law allows for indefinite detention which helps the security forces to detain a tortured person until all physical evidence of his torture disappear from his body".

"Similarly section 18.1 of the Emergency regulations promulgated in May last year have empowered every member of Sri Lanka's security forces to search, interrogate, arrest and detain anyone who he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect of anti-state activities".

"In this context, a member of the Sri Lankan security forces can torture a person he/she arrests for personal, racial, religious reasons. Section 18.1 provides for much abuse in the Tamil areas. What is the guarantee that all members of the security forces vested with the authority to arrest, interrogate and detain under 18.1 will respect a Tamil's fundamental right to freedom from torture.

"The government was compelled to take action on the alleged rape and torture of Sivamani and Wijikala only because of adverse media coverage of the atrocity. Many women have been similarly tortured and raped in Mannar in the past. There was no one to question this because everyone was scared. Now when we speak up against it we are branded as Liberation Tigers".

"Mr. A.S.M Faszmi, the Mannar journalist who revealed the atrocities perpetrated on Sivamani and Wijikala in the Thinakkural paper has been threatened by a section of the Sri Lankan security forces recently".

"The government introduced the Torture Act in 1994. Under this law, the Attorney General has to institute legal proceedings against a person found guilty of torture in court. Thousands of Tamils have been tortured in custody. How many cases did the AG file against members of the security forces found guilty of torture?"

"If you carefully examine the Emergency Regulations and the PTA you will understand that they have been designed to destroy the Tamil people. Ten children were shot dead during the Vesak in Batticaloa last year. Despite the witness of a priest who saw the murder no action has been taken by the state. There are many instances like this".

"Presidential Commissions are appointed only as a means to dissipate the heat and tension over such incidents. They disappear in due course and are not heard of."

"Have you told the Sinhala people the truth about the war? The Sinhala people do not know anything about the war because of the censorship you have imposed under the Emergency Regulations."


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