Feature Article

Sanctioning Impunity

[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 December 2006, 13:20 GMT]
“Memories of psychological trauma, physical pain from torture, and the loss of dignity while I was incarcerated in prison for one year in 1993 after I was arrested under PTA, still haunt me. Nightmares have returned after I heard that PTA has been reimposed. All local and international organizations concerned of human rights should exert pressure on Colombo to repeal the act," "Mahes", 38, a father of three children, from Valaichchenai said Monday.

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) re-introduced the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) on 06 December embedded as part of a new regulation called Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terrorist Activities Regulations (PPT-STAR). The PPT-STAR defines all "specific terrorist activities" listed in the PTA as violations under the PPT-STAR.

The re-imposition of PTA has sent shock waves among the Tamil people, especially journalists and youths, who suffered heavily under the draconian act prior to the signing of the CFA in 22 February 2002.

Mahes, 38 from Valaichchenai. [Note: TamilNet has not used the real name of the victim]
While the PTA provides wide draconian powers for the military to arrest, torture, and imprison any one suspected of "terrorism," clause 18 of the PTA Act allow the Police to use confessions of the suspects against them. “I was on my way to Valaichchenai town on a personal errand when the SLA arrested me alleging that I had links with the Tigers. I was tortured severely- they penetrated a thin rod into my penis and inserted a glass bottle in to my anus- demanding me to confess that I had connections with LTTE. I finally acceded to escape from torture," "Mahes", further told TamilNet.

"They produced me in the Courts submitting my statement as evidence, and was sentenced to five years in prison. I appealed through Human Rights Commission. I explained the Judge that my statement was coerced while I was tortured. I was freed after one year in prison," "Mahes" said.

Ms Malarvily Ranjan, a woman from the same area, said: “One evening around 7:30 pm in 1992, my younger sister and two brothers were walking to our aunt’s house located one hundred meters from our house. We heard gunshot after a few minutes. Out of fear, no one went out to see what happened. I haven't seen my siblings after that. I lodged a complaint at Valaichchenai Police, but have not heard anything about them until today.

“I lost my husband in 1991 when he went for fishing in the lagoon,” recalled Mrs. Kaneswary Yogan from Valaichchenai.

”I was married in early 1991 and was pregnant. One day while may husband was away fishing and I heard gunshot from the direction of the lagoon. I panicked. Neighbours rushed into my house told me that Army and members of TELO paramilitary shot my husband and took him in their vehicle.

"I with my father went to Valaichchenai hospital where a paramilitary member said my husband tried to throw a hand grenade at them and as a result, they shot him dead. His body was in the mortuary but they refused to hand over the body.

"I had to place my signature on a form declaring that he was a member of LTTE, before they released my husband’s body," she said.

PTA was brought to the Sri Lankan Parliament by the then United National Party (UNP) Government in July 1979 under the ‘Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No 48 of 1979’ and certified on 20 July 1979 as a temporary measure to curb growing violence in the Northeast. Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) also supported this act in the Parliament.

This Act was modeled on the Prevention of Terrorism Act used in apartheid South Africa to crush the black resistance. The then President of Sri Lanka, J.R. Jayewardene, crafted the PTA to allow the Security Forces wide latitude in confronting the threat posed by Tamil youths.

Many incidents of gross human rights violations by the Sri Lanka military serve as stark reminders to the PTA's dark history: the 1983 Welikada prison massacre, Bindunuweva Detention Camp killings, the arrest and killings of 153 people from Eastern University Refugee Camp on 05.09.1990 and 183 people from Saththurukkondan a few days later, and Chemmani mass graves of 600 Tamils youths disappeared after arrests by SLA in Jaffna district in 1995, are among the most gruesome.

Colombo's renewed interest in re-imposing the PTA reflects its military agenda and intensifying its war against the Tamils. Colombo is sending a message that it prefers the military option.

[Note: TamilNet has not used the real name of the victim in the first story]

Related Articles:
12.12.06   Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terror..
03.12.06   Prevention of Terrrorism Act [PTA]
10.07.04   Flag Day to commemorate Welikada prison massacre victims
14.01.04   Cease Fire Agreement (CFA)
05.09.03   Batticaloa remembers Tamils massacred in 1990
25.10.00   25 killed in detention centre massacre
06.07.98   '300 to 400 bodies have been buried'

External Links:
Tamilnation: Fifty three Tamil prisoners murdered in Welikade prison


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