Killing detainees and prisoners is a tactic used by the Sri Lanka government to threaten those who speak, write and demonstrate against a coercive government. Custodial killings are a war crime, a crime against humanity and a crime against peace.
The Hague, Geneva and Genocide conventions can be applied to these killings but who dares investigate them? In the Sri Lankan context, the police and Judiciary have neither mandate nor power to investigate or punish the culprits. In Sri Lanka, it is the President and his family members who have the power to punish those who do not agree with them!
Custodial killings are nothing new in Sri Lanka. They have existed for a very long time but no-one has been brought to justice. Why? Because it was Tamil who were killed in the prisons.
Is this the path to peace, justice and democracy in Sri Lanka?
In July 1983, during the island’s worst communal riots against the Tamils, 52 Tamil political prisoners were massacred by Sinhala prisoners in one of the high security prisons in the capital Colombo. This massacre was masterminded by the then government. No independent inquiry was carried out and no-one was brought to book.
Since then many bloody incidents have taken place against Tamil detainees in various prisons and places in Sri Lanka. Many have been seriously injured and killed in prisons.
It is well known, that since May 2009 ex-combatants have been tortured, disappeared and killed. Even though the government maintains bogus figures about ex-combatants in custody, the real figures are not known even to the government because of overnight disappearances and killings in the prisons.
Latest killing of a detainee
Ganesh Nimalaruban (28 years) was kept in detention on suspicion that he had links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam - LTTE, which the government claims to have wiped out in May 2009. Nimalaruban and many other Tamil detainees were initially detained in Vavuniya then transferred to Anuradhapura and Mahara. They were mercilessly attacked by prison officials and Sinhala convicted criminals serving sentences in the same prison. As a result of continuous assault, Nimalaruban was severely injured and admitted to the prison hospital, despite a prison doctor’s instructions to transfer him immediately to another hospital.
It is learnt that the Secretary of Defence ordered the prison authorities to ignore the instructions of the medical doctors. Nimalaruban died on the morning of 4 July 2012.
TCHR, along with many other solidarity organisations, strongly condemns this inhumane and barbaric killing of Nimalaruban...
TCHR sources confirm that his body is still in the mortuary of the Ragama Hospital. It has not been handed over to his parents to perform the last rites for their only son. The reason for refusing to hand over the body to the family is that, there are strong chances that an independent post-mortem or an examination will reveal many more facts about this killing.
According to Nimalaruban’s father Ganesh, who was allowed to see his son’s body after 5 days, his son had bruises and scars on his face, forehead and chest. His hands and legs were severely injured. He repeated that there is no doubt that his son was beaten with wooden and iron rods.
TCHR learns that under an unconventional move by the Secretary of Defence, a Judge prevented the removal of Nimalaruban’s body and ordered burial to be carried out by the government.
In Anuradharapua, the attacks on those detainees were led by a drunken prison superintendent, who demanded that the detainees lick his boots. According to reliable sources, some of those detainees are believed to be currently undergoing further torture in Bogambara prison in Kandy.
Referring to the Sri Lankan human rights situation, Amnesty International stated in their press release of March 2012, “A lack of accountability for alleged war crimes gives the green light to Sri Lankan authorities to act with impunity. Meanwhile the message coming from the Sri Lankan government is that those who dare criticise it risk harassment, or even disappearance.”
Idi-Amin style death threat to an Editor
Media freedom has gone to the dogs in Sri Lanka. The Defence Secretary, who is the brother of the President, is behaving like Idi-Amin of Uganda. There are many similarities and a remarkable difference between these two personalities. Idi-Amin passed away in Saudi Arabia where he had claimed asylum. According to the media, Idi-Amin suffered from various illnesses before he died. The Secretary of Defence of Sri Lanka is a living American citizen.
According to the Sunday Leader of 8th July 2012: “Gota Goes Berserk”, the editor in chief Federica Janz contacted the Secretary of Defence, regarding a story of a “puppy dog”. She was verbally abused by the Secretary Defence with foul language, intimidation, obscenities and was threatened with death.
The Secretary of Defense told Fredrica Jansz: “….. You are a shit, shit journalist…….. You pig that eats shit! You shit shit dirty f…..g journalist!.......... People will kill you!!! People hate you!!! They will kill you!”. (Excerpt) http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/07/08/gota-goes-berserk/
We, TCHR, along with many other solidarity organizations from various countries condemn this barbaric behavior of the Secretary of Defence of Sri Lanka, towards Fredrica Janz, the Editor of the Sunday Leader.
Dr Agnes Callamard, executive director of ARTICLE 19 said, “The threat against journalist Frederica Jansz is the latest demonstration of the Sri Lankan government’s systematic attacks against independent and opposition-supporting journalists and media houses. They have showered scorn on journalists and shown a complete inability or unwillingness to prosecute perpetrators of violence toward and the killing of journalists.”