The Sri Lanka army has strongly denied allegations of raping members or supporters of the LTTE, as claimed by Human Rights Watch in a new report released today.
Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the report is baseless and is yet another “creation” of the human rights group targeting the ongoing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
“We reject these allegations. The Sri Lankan security forces do not condone rape or torture of detainees. We have even charged some soldiers against who evidence of rape had been presented in the past. There is no point making allegations without evidence,” the army spokesman told the Colombo Gazette.
Human Rights Watch said in a 141-page report titled “‘We Will Teach You a Lesson’: Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces” that the Sri Lankan security forces have been using rape and other forms of sexual violence to torture suspected members or supporters of the LTTE.
While widespread rape in custody occurred during the armed conflict that ended in May 2009, Human Rights Watch found that politically motivated sexual violence by the military and police continues to the present.
The report provides detailed accounts of 75 cases of alleged rape and sexual abuse that occurred from 2006-2012 in both official and secret detention centers throughout Sri Lanka.
In the cases documented by Human Rights Watch, men and women reported being raped on multiple days, often by several people, with the army, police, and pro-government paramilitary groups frequently participating.
“The Sri Lankan security forces have committed untold numbers of rapes of Tamil men and women in custody,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These are not just wartime atrocities but continue to the present, putting every Tamil man and woman arrested for suspected LTTE involvement at serious risk.”
Most of the rape victims spoke to Human Rights Watch outside of Sri Lanka, and corroborated their accounts with medical and legal reports.
“We have a strong law and order system in the country. If there is evidence for such allegations then it should be reported to the police and investigations will be carried out,” the army spokesman said.
Human Rights Watch said that the cases suggest that the use of sexual violence was not just a local occurrence or actions of rogue security force personnel, but a widespread practice that was known or should have been known by higher-level officials.
“The government’s response to allegations of sexual violence by its security forces have been dismissive, deeming them as ‘fake’ or ‘pro-LTTE propaganda,’” Adams said. “It’s not clear who in the government knew about these horrific crimes. But the government’s failure to take action against these ongoing abuses is further evidence of the need for an international investigation.”
Report by Easwaran Rutnam