Men report rape, torture under Sri Lankan government

2017-11-08 22:01
A Sri Lankan man known as Witness #249 shows brand marks on his back during an interview in London. He said his captors used hot iron rods to make the marks meant to symbolise tiger stripes for the Tamil Tigers rebel group. (Frank Augstein, AP)

A Sri Lankan man known as Witness #249 shows brand marks on his back during an interview in London. He said his captors used hot iron rods to make the marks meant to symbolise tiger stripes for the Tamil Tigers rebel group. (Frank Augstein, AP)

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London - He was barely a teenager when Sri Lanka's civil war ended, spared by youth from witnessing its horrors.

But last year, the brutal conflict caught up with Witness #205.

Raped, branded and beaten, he is one of more than 50 men who say they were abducted and tortured under Sri Lanka's current government.

The men's previously unpublished accounts conjure images of the bloody civil war that ended in 2009.

New leadership

The men agreed to tell their stories and to have the extensive scars on their legs, chests and backs photographed in July and August. The AP reviewed 30 medical and psychological evaluations and conducted interviews with 20 men. The strangers said they were accused of trying to revive the Tamil Tiger rebel group and tortured between early 2016 to as recently as July of 2017.

Sri Lankan authorities deny the allegations.

"The army was not involved – and as for that matter – I'm sure that police also were not involved", Sri Lanka army commander Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake said in Sri Lanka. "There's no reason for us to do that now".

Sri Lanka's current government was elected in 2015. Many had hoped the new leadership would bring long promised reforms.

Piers Pigou, a South African human rights investigator, said he has not seen torture of this scale in his 40-year career.

Human rights groups

"The levels of sexual abuse being perpetuated in Sri Lanka by authorities are the most egregious and perverted that I've ever seen".

Sri Lanka has so far failed to investigate war crimes allegations stemming from its 26-year civil war. At the end of August, human rights groups in South America filed lawsuits against Sri Lanka's ambassador to Brazil, a former general accused of overseeing military units that attacked hospitals and tortured thousands at the end of the war. Upon his return, Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said neither the former general nor other "war heroes" would be touched – a pledge that drew criticism from human rights groups.


Read more on:    sri lanka  |  sexual abuse

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