Shocking details of the Sri Lanka military holding women as sex slaves in rape camps have been handed over to the United Nations.
In a report made public on Monday (20), International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) quotes three female victims who charge of being detained alongside others for prolonged periods by the military and used as sexual slaves.
“Two of the women describe being detained in a group in one room, available for any soldier to come and chose from and take to an adjacent room or tent to be raped,” says ITJP.
“The third woman was kept in a cell alone in the pitch dark for 6 months but heard other women next door screaming.”
Camp in the capital
They had been held four distinct sites.
One near Vavuniya, one near Puttalam, one in Colombo itself and one outside Colombo but not in the North or East.
ITJP has submitted its findings to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which meets in Geneva with official delegates from Sri Lanka this week.
The report also has documented other forms of torture including sexual violence allegedly committed by the military and police.
ITJP says that its submission is based on detailed testimony from 55 women describing torture and horrific sexual assaults while held in state custody.
Details of perpetrators
48 of the victims had been detained under the Government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and 7 of them under the new Government of President Maithripala Sirisena.
ITJP has also provided details of six military men including a major and a leiutenant colonel who are alleged perpetrators of rape and torture in the military.
“When it meets on 22nd February in Geneva, we expect CEDAW to share this information with the Sri Lankan Government and request that they immediately suspend the six officers pending a credible investigation,” said ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka.
“This Government keep on asking us for the names and addresses of the victims; through CEDAW we are passing on information regarding alleged perpetrators so let’s see if the Government is really serious about justice. Our report sets out all the steps they should take; CEDAW can monitor their progress”.
However, impunity is systemic and entrenched in Sri Lanka as the government lacks the political will to bring these individuals to account says ITJP in its submission to CEDAW.
‘Only 18 incidents’ GoSL
Sri Lanka denies that its armed forces are engaged in systematic sexual violence.
It has told the UN that only 18 incidents of sexual violence by security forces have been reported from the war affected region since 2007.
“During the conflict period (January 2007-May 2009), 7 Security Forces personnel were reported to have been involved in 12 incidents of sexual violence in North and East areas. In the post conflict period (May 2009-May 2012), 10 Security Forces personnel were reported to have been involved in 6 incidents of sexual violence in the North,” says the government report to CEDAW.
However, the report does not clarify whether any investigation has been conducted and the perpetrators have been punished.
Nevertheless, ITJP says that it has recorded ongoing sexual violence by Sri Lanka Armed forces as recent as 2016.
Women in week long sit down to regain occupied land threaten self-immolation
Tamil women in Sri Lanka’s war ravaged north demanding access to their ancestral lands occupied by the military have threatened to take their lives by self-immolation in the face of government inflexibility.
The sit down led by Tamil women reached its seventh day, while a similar demonstration by another group of Tamils continued for the fifth day.
Both protests against the ongoing military occupation is continuing in the Mullaitivu district.
Women who were originally from Pilavkudiyiruppu village in Keppapuilavu division of the Karaithuraipattru divisional secretariat launched their protest when officials refused to hand over nearly 20 acres of land under Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) occupation as promised on January 31.
They have been camping outside the SLAF camp since that day determined to continue with their protest until their traditional lands are given back.
Two days later, Tamils displaced by military occupation in Puthikudiyiruppu (PTK) launched a protest in front of the divisional secretariat demanding the return of their land.
The protest demanding the return of 19 acres continues to this day.
Hiding war crimes
Mullaithivu district was the main area where tens of thousands of civilians were massacred by Sri Lanka government’s indiscriminate bombardment in the last stages of its war against Tamil Tigers.
While the UN has stated ‘that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths’, an Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka concluded in 2012 that ‘other sources have referred to credible information indicating that 70,000 peopele’ may have died in last few months.
The protesters originally from those areas have a strong belief that they are kept away from that former battle zone to stop unearthing evidence of war crimes.
The nations that have committed genocide are unable to continue the ethnic cleansing by overt means. So they employ covert tactics to accomplish their brutal task of destroying the ethnic identity of their adversary ethnic group. The worst are these tactics more often do not get recognized by the very victims.
Unfortunately, the victim nation, for some reasons, begins to believe that the tactics employed by the victors are for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development purposes. The people who point the real intent of the victor are ridiculed and painted as someone who is against meaningful rehabilitation. This in no way is the fault of the victims. It is the consequence of the psychological trauma the vanquished have undergone during those tumultuous war days. The crippled psyche of the vanquished makes them vulnerable to the systematic lies of the Genocidal states and the consequences are mere reflections of the uncertainty that befalls.
Post 06 January 2017By Parani Krisnarajani