State-sponsored terrorism and violence is not new in Sri-Lanka. The country has a long history of violence perpetrated by the state.
Human remains of 200 people were discovered in Matale in December last year. Politicians belonging to the JVP party allege that the victims were killed having been tortured and that the heads, arms and legs of many of them had been severed.
The then government was widely accused of running torture chambers in the area in the late 1980s and of conducting extra-judicial executions. As many as 60,000 JVP insurgents were reportedly killed.
According to the Sri Lankan defence ministry website, the military’s coordinating officer and then commanding officer in the area at the time was Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
According to the latest report by Human Rights Watch:
Male and female former detainees told HRW that prior to being raped, they were forced to strip, their genitals or breasts groped, and they were verbally abused and mocked.
Many of the medical reports examined by HRW show evidence of sexual violence such as bites on the buttocks and breasts, and cigarette burns on sensitive areas like inner thighs and breasts.
Two men interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that they had a sharp needle inserted in their penis. In one case, this was used to insert small metal balls into their urethra by army personnel; the metal balls were later surgically removed by doctors abroad.
In many cases documented by HRW, the victims knew the security establishment to which one or more of the perpetrators belonged, and also identified camps and detention sites where the abuse occurred.
Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) provides effective immunity to officials implicated in abuses.
Medical and psychological treatment for rape survivors has also been hindered by the government. Detainees held under the PTA do not have an independent right to a medical examination.
Under the PTA, currently in effect, as well as under the State of Emergency in effect during the war, confessions to the police and other authorities obtained under duress are admissible unless the accused can prove that they were involuntary.
According to the latest report by the International Crisis Group:
Government attacks on the judiciary and political dissent have accelerated Sri Lanka’s authoritarian turn and threaten long-term stability and peace. The government’s politically motivated impeachment of the chief justice reveals both its intolerance of dissent and the weakness of the political opposition.
Sri Lanka is faced with two worsening and inter-connected governance crises. The dismantling of the independent judiciary and other democratic checks on the executive and military will inevitably feed the growing ethnic tension resulting from the absence of power sharing and the denial of minority rights.
The government has conducted no credible investigations into allegations of war crimes, disappearances or other serious human rights violations.
Rather than establish independent institutions for oversight and investigation, the government has in effect removed the last remnants of judicial independence through the impeachment of the chief justice.
The government has responded with force to protest and dissent in the south, deploying troops to prevent the newly impeached chief justice and supporters from visiting the Supreme Court while pro-government groups attacked lawyers protesting the impeachment.
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Martin Luther King
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