| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(December 22, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) One glaring omission in the LLRC report is the rape and murder of a significant number of detainees in camps by government security forces. No woman would have ever come forward and told the Commission that she had been raped. Sri Lankan culture does not permit a woman to come out with the fact she was raped since there is a heavy stigma attached to a raped woman.
|File Photo: President Mahinda Rajapakse|
Apart from a clergyman’s submission which states,“As a priest moving with the people I notice that we have nearly 81 widows in our district. Either they have lost their husbands or their husbands are in the detention camps. These women headed families face many difficulties, as the Tamil society is a very traditional society. When a man goes in to help a widow’s family undue suspicion could arise and social and moral issues could also come up. They do not have anybody to help”, there is absolutely no mention of rape on Chapter 5 Paragraphs 104 to 117.
Around March this year I wrote a piece to Sri Lanka Guardian titled `The Vanquished People‘ in which I was witness to an 18 year old asylum seeker with a low IQ who was examined and interviewed by a psychologist and saw with my own eyes the injuries she sustained in her private parts when she was dragged out of her cell along with four other girls and repeatedly raped by several soldiers almost on a daily basis for 18 months. She bore a female child as a result who is now almost three years old.
The psychologist who had been treating her for almost two years told me she was telling the truth and the fact that she ran for her dear life when spotted a uniformed porter confirmed that she was indeed traumatised and it would take many more years for her deep psychological wounds to heal.
Evidence is also surfacing of young boys being raped and tortured in detention camps during asylum claims and human rights groups could do well to interview immigration solicitors and foreign government ministries dealing with asylum claims.
If the LTTE had committed many atrocities rape had never been one of them. Channel 4’s Killing Fields‘ video, evidence given by many female asylum seekers for obtaining refugee status despite many bogus claims, recent UNCAT (United Nations Convention Against Torture) disclosure of rape, torture and murder and UK based human rights group report on the same put these rape victims is reminiscent of South Korea’s `Comfort Women’ during World War 11 in detention camps who were systematically raped by Japanese soldiers and who needed sexual gratification to keep their morale high. Some seven decades later Japan is still paying compensation to these women who are now well into their nineties.
Despite all this, the UK High Commissioner Dr Chris Nonis ceremoniously handed over the LLRC report – a puerile effort of a few government servants to exonerate the government from the atrocities of its security forces – to UK parliamentarians with pomp and pageant at the House of Commons. The premature release of the LLRC report before the government announced deadline of December 21 smacks of Prof. G.L.Peiris’s fingerprints to placate the international community into thwarting war crime investigations and is seen by critics as a damage-control exercise before international war crimes investigations proper begins next year.
UN’s choice words that `it welcomes the report’ in no way suggest that it accepts the LLRC report as the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Sri Lanka is fast losing its credibility from day one after the war ended when it announced that no civilians were killed by the security forces and later went on to admit some civilians may have been caught up in the offensive against the LTTE.
The reason the refugees abroad are campaigning to bring the government before the international war crimes tribunal is that almost every one of them had either lost at least one member of their family or relatives or seriously affected. Their fight is a just fight and the world is listening at last. It its futile and foolhardy to accuse them of re-awakening LTTE terrorism.
The LLRC report has taken a lassaiz-faire attitude towards the annihilation of a good proportion of civilians and this alone merits international intervention and making the government accountable for war crimes committed. The war victims deserve immediate reprieve if the government sincerely wishes to mend fences with its minorities which include a good proportion of innocent Muslims.
(The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)