Cancer patient who was trafficked for organ smuggling is facing denial of justice and protection

(November 10, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information about an attempt by an unknown group of people to illegally traffic the organs of a cancer patient in Sri Lanka. Ms. TC Kanthi (38) of Ibbankatuwa, Dambulla in the Matale District went for medical treatment to the Cancer Clinic at Kandy Teaching Hospital on 16 October 2011. She was approached by two people who identified themselves as doctors. They advised her to go with them to India for medical treatment. She arrived at the designated location on 18 October 2011. She was abducted and detained in an unknown location. She observed several patients who were tied to the beds waiting for surgeries which would remove their internal organs. Ms. Kanthi was subjected to several medical experiments against her will. On 1 November, shortly before she was supposed to be taken to the operating theater, she was able to escape with the assistance of a woman cleaner. Later, she filed a complaint at the Galevala Police Station. Her husband, Ajith Wijekumara, also filed a complaint with the hospital authorities of Kandy Hospital as well as with the Kandy Hospital Police Post and to the Headquarters Police Station of Kandy, requesting prompt and efficient investigation into his wife’s case. An investigation has not been started. This is yet another illustration of breakdown of rule of law of the country.
According to the information that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received, Ms. TC Kanthi (38) of Ibbankatuwa, Dambulla in Matale District was brought to an unknown location and an attempt was made to forcefully remove her internal organs.
Ms. TC Kanthi is married to Mr. Ajith Wijekumara. She is the mother of three children and is a housewife. One year ago, Ms. Kanthi was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was receiving treatment twice a week at the Cancer Clinic of the Kandy Teaching Hospital.
On 16 October 2011, Ms. Kanthi went to the hospital for treatment. As she waited to be called for her treatment, she noticed two people who identified themselves as doctors speaking to the patients who were there for treatment. They approached Ms. Kanthi and advised her to go to India for treatment. She was told that the treatment was free of charge and that she would be fully cured. She also observed several other patients assenting to this treatment, so Ms. Kanthi agreed as well.
Ms. Kanthi came to the clinic two days later, as requested by the self-identified doctors. The doctors arrived in two ambulances and explained the treatment to Ms. Kanthi and her son, who had accompanied her to the hospital. They asked Ms. Kanthi’s son to sign a number of documents consenting to his mother’s treatment. Ms. Kanthi counted nine other patients boarding the ambulances. She shared an ambulance with four other people and three nurses. The ambulances began to drive forward towards Colombo. When the ambulance passed the Kadugannawa mountain area, the ambulances were stopped and the doctors and nurses went to the tea shop across the road and returned with packets of milk. The five patients in Ms. Kanthi’s ambulance were provided with straws and they all drank the milk. Ms. Kanthi fell asleep soon after she drank the milk.
When she awoke, she found herself on a hospital bed. When she boarded the ambulance, she was wearing white clothes, but she had been changed into green clothes. She observed two other patients in the room she was in who were tied to their beds. She was not informed of her whereabouts or of the nature of her medical treatment. She was not told why she was being detained in the hospital.
Several people who seemed to be knowledgeable about medicine approached her and took blood samples on three occasions. When Ms. Kanthi asked questions about the treatment and the people in the hospital, they injected her with an unknown drug which made her fall asleep. She noticed that several other patients were injected when they asked similar questions. Ms. Kanthi believed that illegal activities were taking place, but she was not able to stand up or leave the room she was in.
She was detained without treatment for 14 days, and was repeatedly told that she would be taken to a surgical theatre. She was not told what kind of operation would be conducted on her. Her head was also shaved.
Ms. Kanthi understood that she was still in Sri Lanka, as the hospital staff were Sinhalese. However, she was not allowed to communicate with any of her family members and was not informed of her whereabouts. She repeatedly requested the staff to allow her to return home but they refused.
On 1 November, Ms. Kanthi went to the bathroom and met a woman who was cleaning. She spoke to the woman who told her that this location was a place where internal organs were collected for smuggling. Although the place was heavily guarded, the woman told Ms. Kanthi that she could jump out of the bathroom window with her assistance. Ms. Kanthi did so and ran until she encountered a railway station. She took the first train that came, even though she did not have a ticket.
When she returned home, she went to Galkiriyagama Police Station with her husband and filed an official complaint. She explained what had happened to her. She requested the police officers to investigate the crimes that had been committed, and to bring the perpetrators who were trafficking people for the illegal trade of internal organs to justice.
She learned that her husband had made a complaint to the hospital authorities of the Kandy Teaching Hospital, but the authorities did not take any action. Soon after, Ms. Kanthi’s husband went to the Kandy Hospital Police Post, Headquarters Police Station of Kandy and made complaints regarding the disappearance of his wife and requested police officers to initiate a prompt and effective investigation into the disappearance of his wife. None of the authorities initiated any investigation into these complaints.
When Ms. Kanthi’s husband repeatedly asked the hospital authorities to investigate, they told him that there were a number of ambulances from private hospitals parked in the hospital compound, thus they could not be held responsible for what happened. Moreover, they explained, hospital security did not keep records of the arrival and departure of vehicles.
Source: The Asian Human Rights Commission                                              


Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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