(October 18, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Mr. Sathira Dharshana Jayawickrama (22) of Manigawatta, Ketagoda, Udugama is single and a driver by profession. On 6 June 2011Sathira was arrested by police officers attached to the Udugama Police Station who severely tortured him. He was remanded for 42 days after the police filed a fabricated case against him. After he was released on bail he sent written complaints to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), the National Police Commission (NPC), the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Southern Province and also to The Director of the Police Legal Division at Police Headquarters. To-date none of these authorities have started an investigation into the violation of his rights. This case is yet another illustration of the exceptional collapse of the rule of law in the country.
According to the information the Asian Human Rights Commission has received Mr. Sathira Dharshana Jayawickrama (22) of Manigawatta, Ketagoda, Udugama in the Galle District is single and a driver by profession. On 6 June 2011Sathira was arrested by police officers attached to the Udugama Police Station and was later severely tortured.
On the evening of this particular day Sathira on his way to a neighbor’s funeral when he heard a loud scream coming from the house of another neighbor, H.W. Gamini and he rushed towards this house.
Sathira saw that a crowd had gathered in the premises and some people were assaulting Gamini. His wife was screaming and crying. When Sathira approached them the people stopped assaulting Gamini.
Sathira was able to identify the people who were assaulting him as police officers attached to the Udugama Police Station as he had seen them before. They were in civilian clothes and he saw that they were heavily intoxicated. Among them were the officers, Wijenayaka and Roshan.
At that moment, Gamini’s wife called out, “Could anyone please help to get uncle Gamini into the three-wheeler to take him to hospital”. Then Sathira went forward and tried to get the injured neighbor into a three-wheeler. At that instant, the officer, Wijenayaka grabbed Sathira by the neck and said, “This fellow too must be one of them’. Then they forced him into a police cab.
The other police officers, who had put Gamini into the three-wheeler came back to the road. At that time the neighbors pleaded with the police officers to take Gamini to the hospital, but the police officers said, “We are taking him to the police station, not to the hospital”. Then the neighbors got together and took Gamini out of the three-wheeler and put him into a tipper truck which was stopped at the roadside.
Then the police officers blocked the road using the three-wheeler and the police cab into which Sathira had been forcefully loaded. The agitated villagers began to attack the police officers with stones and the police responded in a similar manner. Sathira saw one of the stones hitting the glass of the tipper in which Gamini was sitting.
Later, in consequence of the villagers’ protest the police officers left for the police station taking Sathira along with two other persons who had been arrested before. Sathira later identified these two persons as Tharindu and Sisira.
They were brought to the Udugama Police Station where the officers started to assault Tharindu and Sisira. Afterwards they were put into a cell. Then the officers who were later identified as Wickrama, Indika, Apa, Wijenayaka and other unknown officers surrounded Sathira and started to beat him with clubs, fists and boots. Instantly Sathira fell to the ground but they continued to beat him and later put him in the same cell where Tharindu and Sisira were detained.
After about ten minutes, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the police station came to the room and verbally abused Sathira. He then said to the officer outside, “I must beat him myself and don’t need anyone else”.
Then the OIC started to punch and kick Sathira inside the cell. Following this torture he pulled Sathira by his hair and ordered him to sit on the bench in the cell. The OIC left but returned after a few moments and threatened that all three detainees would be charged under the firearms act by being implicated in a bomb case”. Then he went out again. By that time, only Tharindu and Sathira were in the same cell. Sisira was alone in the other cell.
Sathira learned later that on the night of the same day his mother and father came to visit but were not allowed to see him. Therefore, Sathira did not get a chance to talk to them.
The following day, 7 June Sathira’s parents came again at around 8 am. His father was allowed to hand over some food but was not permitted to talk to Sathira. He was told to leave the police station as soon as possible.
Later, a police officer took Tharindu, Sisira and Sathira out from the cells and presented them before the Officer-in-Charge who told them, “If you strive too much, I will put you all in prison by implicating you in a bomb case”. Thereafter, he inquired from all three detainees whether they could identify the officers who had assaulted them. Sathira answered that he did not know because he feared facing a fabricated bomb case. Then the OIC told him, “Very good, now go and bring your medical reports”. Then all three detainees were brought to the Udugama Government Hospital by the police officers. Sathira identified a few of the police officers who brought them as officers, Wijenayaka, Apa, Indika and a policewoman.
Then all three detainees were produced before a doctor in the hospital. First Sisira was bought to the doctor. After about half an hour, Tharindu was next and after that, officer Wijenayaka accompanied Sathira to the doctor.
The doctor asked Sathira if the police officers had assaulted them. Sathira said ‘no’, because Wijenayaka was there and he was in fear of further torture and facing fabricated charges.
Then the doctor took Sathira to take off his shirt and checked his body with a torch. By then Sathira had bruises on his back because of the beatings. At that time the doctor said to the officer, Wijenayaka, “I may also get into trouble by this”. Then the officer said, “Don’t be afraid, Doctor, nothing will happen”.
After that all three detainees were taken back to the police station with the medical reports.
Then the OIC came to Sathira and others and told him, “If you reveal a word about this, I will take you in and give you a punishment”. Then Sathira and the others were taken to the Magistrate’s Court of Baddegama. The officer who brought them to the court informed the Magistrate that three the suspects were taken to custody with a sword, a club and a bottle of sand. After that Sathira and other two were remanded. Sathira was later produced before the Magistrate again who extended his detention for a period of 42 days.
On 28 July 2011, Sathira was enlarged on bail but he was ordered to appear before the same court the next day, (29 July). On this particular day his mother had to produce a certificate from the Grama Niladari of her village with the correct identity card number as that on the first report contained an error.
Subsequently Sathira leaned that the police had filed another complaint against Sathira and several other neighbors including Sisira, Tharindu, Thushara, Raveendra, Disnaka, Sumith, Nalaka, Kasun, Gamini, Indraratne and Dhammika. Sathira vehemently denied the allegations of attacking three persons and damaging a house. He later learned that the second case number as No: 55614. The next hearing of that case has been scheduled to 17 November 2011.
Sathira states that he was illegally arrested, detained and severely tortured. Further he states that he police filed two fabricated charges against him. Sathira states that the OIC of Udugama Police Staiton and the police officers Wijenayaka, Indika, Roshan, Apa and Wickrama are responsible for the violation of his rights.
After he was released on bail he sent written complaints to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRC), the National Police Commission (NPC), the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Southern Province and to the Director of the Police Legal Division at Police Headquarters. Despite having been sent on 9 August 2011 none of these authorities have started an investigation in relation to the violation of his rights.
He further states that he is presently in fear of being illegally re arrested and further torture by the OIC and the other police officers. He is presently in fear of his life and seeking the protection for his life. It comes as no surprise to learn that none of the offices and officers who received Sathira’s complaints has taken action. In a country where the president himself can turn a blind eye to the murder of a prominent politician the HRC and hierarchy of the police can hardly be expected to take an interest in the torture of an innocent man.