( March 23, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In an Urgent Appeal issued by the Hong Kong Based rights monitoring, documenting and analysis group exposed the series of child abuses in the Rantambe Military Camp located in off Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The complete appeal is reproduced below;
According to information received by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a 14 year old, boy X, and 10 other boys were sexually abused at the Rantambe Military Camp between 16th-23rd February 2017. Boy X together with a group of 23 male students from the Pilawela Maha Vidiyalaya, Pilawela, Kundasale School in the Kandy District, participated in a training program organized by the Military Camp. Returning home after training, the boy shared with his parents that he was sexually abused and video-graphed at the scene. Although the parents made formal complaints to the principal, the OICs of the Wattegama and Hasalaka Police Stations, a proper investigation has not been carried out. Sometime later, the students responsible for the attack were arrested and produced before the Mahiyanganaya Magistrate’s Court. As usual, the police failed to submit the proper evidence leading to their release on bail. The parents state that they have been denied justice.
According to information received by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Mr. N.G Rohitha Sarathchandra (42) and Mrs. T.G Priyangani (39) of No: 4/3, Hathamuna, Pilawela, Kundasale in the Kandy District, are married and have a boy, aged 14. He is presently studying at the Pilawela Maha Vidiyalaya, Pilawela School, Kundasale in the Kandy District. The name of the child is withheld for obvious reasons and we will refer to him as Boy X.
Boy X, is participating in the Cadet Program in school as one of his extra-curricular activities. There are a few dozen boys taking part in this special program. Cadet Master, Captain Samatha Perera, brought 23 boys to the Rantambe Army Camp for the Cadet Training Program, held from 16th to the 23rd of February 2017.
Once they returned home on 24th February 2017, Boy X, reported what happened to his parents. During the training period he, along with 10 other students, were all sexually abused by 3 three senior students of their school. They were named as Fonseka, Janith and Banda. He also said that these three senior students video graphed scenes while they sexually abusing the boys.
According to Boy X, during the cadet training program, 10 students were subjected to inhumane treatment and torture as they tried to hit back at their seniors’ illegal behavior. They were tied to a bed, stripped naked, their private parts were joked about and they were assaulted with cups and sticks. They were given only a little food mixed with human spittle by the 3 senior students.
On 27th February several parents of the victims, went to see the principal of the school, Mrs. Udeni Dunuwila. She said that she cannot do anything about the incident and that she is not responsible for the attacks. Boy X’s parents called the police emergency service telephone No: 11. Police officers of Wattegama Police Station arrived. Victims and suspects were all taken to Wattegama Police Station. The video recording was viewed by the police and statements were taken down from suspects and victims. All victims were taken to Manikhinna Government Hospital, were not examined but merely questioned and sent home.
The suspects were held at the Wattegama Police Station. Parents of the victims were asked to go to Hasalaka Police Station as the incident happened in that police division.
On 28th February, the parents met the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Hasalaka Police Station, and verbally made a complaint to him. The OIC laughed at them. He said “these are minor matters, don’t worry” and only recorded the names of the suspects and the victims. They were then asked to return home.
Later they learned that officers of the other Police Station at Wattegama had taken steps to produce the 3 suspects before the Mahiyangana Magistrate’s Court. But they did not take the proper steps when submitting the necessary evidence and the findings of their investigations. Of particular note, is the fact that they failed to inform the magistrate about the video recording of the sexual abuse. And in addition, no mention was made of the illegal behavior which is a punishable crime under the Sri Lankan Penal Code. Considering the meager facts submitted by the police, the Magistrate had to release the suspected students on bail. According to the victims’ parents, the officers handling the case mislead the Magistrate. They told the judge that as investigating police officers they considered this matter as a joke carried out by senior students on junior students.
The victims’ state that the principal of the school, Mrs. Udeni Dunuwila, and the Cadet Master, Captain Samantha Perera turned a blind eye to the incident. Police officers said it was only a joke. However, the parents strongly protested their attitudes, saying the issue was that their children were sexually abused for 6 days and treated callously.
On 2nd March the incident was reported in the national media, in the highest circulated newspaper on the Island, “Lankadeepa”. Even in that news report it was erroneously stated that the school principal telephoned to the police emergency service No: 119. Victims’ stated that the facts given were inaccurate. Both law enforcement agencies and the media are trying to protect the culprits and those officers who subverted the law. Why?
The young boys, victims, are demanding justice for the indignities perpetrated on them. They are asking for a prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation into the crime.