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I didnt believe Sri Lanka torture stories: I do now Tamil victim

Thursday 07 Nov 20 ! " Tamil man# who was tortured this year on his return $rom the %& to Sri Lanka on holiday has told 'hannel ( News o$ his $rustration and sense o$ )owerlessness as world leaders )re)are to travel to the 'ommonwealth summit in Sri Lanka ne*t week+ ,rime -inister .avid 'ameron and /orei0n Secretary# 1illiam 2a0ue# will head the 3ritish dele0ation+ The ,rince o$ 1ales will also attend in )lace o$ the 4ueen# as 2ead o$ the 'ommonwealth+ The man# who cannot be identi$ied $or reasons o$ sa$ety# had studied in 3ritain $or several years and held a valid %& visa# but decided to return to his homeland to hel) his a0ein0 )arents resettle $ollowin0 their release $rom an internment cam)+

They had reassured him that it was )robably sa$e $or him to do so as he had not belon0ed to the outlawed Tamil Ti0ers rebel 0rou)+ The ethnic Tamil

insur0ency was summarily de$eated by Sri Lankan 0overnment $orces in 2005+ 6n arrival at 'olombo international air)ort# the man# who said he wished to be known by the )seudonym# 78athavan#9 claims to have been arrested and sub:ected to )rolon0ed interro0ation and torture over several days# both within the 'olombo air)ort buildin0 and at a se)arate# unknown location+ .octors $rom the London;based medical charity /reedom $rom Torture# who have e*amined 8athavan# say do<ens o$ scars on his body are 7hi0hly consistent9 with the in:uries he claims were the result o$ torture+ I dee)ly re0ret =the 3ritish ,rime -inisters> decision to visit Sri Lanka at this :uncture#9 8athavan told 'hannel ( News+ Sri Lanka has o)enly carried out a 0enocide and is still carryin0 out a vicious cam)ai0n a0ainst the Tamil community+ Instead o$ )unishin0 this 0overnment and its leaders#9 he said# 73ritain is honourin0 them by visitin0+ 1e Tamil have no o)tion but to hel)lessly watch this sad event+ It is dee)ly re0rettable+9 2avin0 esca)ed $rom Sri Lanka a$ter relatives bribed security o$$icials to release him# 8athavan was smu00led back into 3ritain# where he claimed )olitical asylum on arrival+ That a))lication# he told us# was re:ected and his a))eal then re$used+ ?ud0es# he said# had acce)ted the truth o$ his account# but cited %& 7'ountry @uidance9 that it would be sa$e $or him to be returned to Sri Lanka+ 8athavan is awaitin0 the outcome o$ his $inal a))eal+ I will be sent back to Sri Lanka i$ this a))eal $ails#9 he said+ I know what is 0oin0 to ha))en to me in Sri Lanka+ They will de$initely torture me and kill me+ I would be ha))ier to serve a li$e sentence in a 3ritish )rison than be returned to Sri Lanka# where they will torture me to death+9 2e added that his advice to any other 3ritish;based Tamils thinkin0 o$ returnin0 voluntarily to Sri Lanka is: 7.ont+9 3ritish;based Tamil 0rou)s meet the ,rime -inister and /orei0n Secretary in .ownin0 Street this a$ternoon to make clear their concerns about 3ritains hi0h;level attendance at the 'ommonwealth summit+ "ll Tamil and human ri0hts 0rou)s had ur0ed the 3ritish 0overnment to boycott the event# but in -ay# .ownin0 Street announced -essrs 'ameron and 2a0ue would de$initely attend+ /our;and;a;hal$ years have ela)sed since the end o$ the 27;year;lon0 civil war which saw more than 00#000 Sri Lankans both Sinhalese and Tamil killed+ The Tamil Ti0ers were also widely accused o$ war crimes and were banned as a terrorist or0anisation by the 3ritish 0overnment+ 3ut it was the brutal manner in which Sri Lankan 0overnment $orces ended the con$lict that has drawn dee) concern $rom the %nited Nations and $rom

international human ri0hts 0rou)s+ " %N re)ort stated that at least (0#000 Tamil civilians were indiscriminately killed in the $inal months+ 3ut other estimates su00est that number may have been much hi0her+ .avid 'ameron has in the )ast called $or accountability $or those accused o$ war crimes which include the Sri Lankan ,resident# -ahinda Aa:a)aksa and his brother @otabaya Aa:a)aksa# the .e$ence Secretary+ 3ut the 3ritish 0overnment has# $or the )ast three years# insisted on en0a0in0 with the 'olombo re0ime+ 1ritin0 in todays .aily Tele0ra)h# 1illiam 2a0ue said what while 7civil society is su))ressed9 and while 7no one has been held to account $or alle0ed war crimes#9 a boycott o$ the 'ommonwealth summit would be wron0+ 3y visitin0# we can see the situation on the 0round $irst;hand#9 he wrote# 7meet )eo)le on all sides o$ the con$lict# and raise our concerns $rankly and directly with the 0overnment+9 2e said the ,rime -inister would be visitin0 the north o$ the island where some o$ the worst $i0htin0 occurred+ 2e will be the $irst head o$ 0overnment to visit the re0ion since Sri Lanka 0ained inde)endence in 5(B#9 he said+ 72e will meet )eo)le directly a$$ected by the con$lict+9 The /orei0n Secretary insisted that the meetin0 has )ut Sri Lanka 7under the international s)otli0ht and has contributed to some im)rovements+9 2uman ri0hts 0rou)s stron0ly disa0ree+ In "u0ust# the visitin0 %N 2i0h 'ommissioner $or 2uman Ai0hts concluded that Sri Lanka was slidin0 towards 0reater authoritarianism+ "ll leadin0 international human ri0hts 0rou)s have documented a steady deterioration in the human ri0hts situation since the war ended+ .issent has been criminalised# they say# while $orced disa))earences are common and torture is wides)read+ 8athavan# the Tamil man interviewed by 'hannel ( News# who was tortured in 20 !# said that $ollowin0 his arrest# he thou0ht he was 0oin0 to be taken away and shot+ 2e said he was sus)ected by his torturers o$ bein0 a su))orter o$ the vanCuished Tamil Ti0ers o$ which his late brother had once been a member+ 2is brother was killed in combat in 552+ 8athavan re)eatedly insisted he had never been involved+ ,rior to comin0 to the %& to study $ive years a0o# 8athavan had been arrested and tortured while in 'olombo+ 7Aecallin0 that e*)erience#9 he told us# 7I thou0ht I would never be set $ree+ I told mysel$ that this was 0oin0 to be the last cha)ter o$ my li$e+9 2e said that $ollowin0 his arrest# interro0ation and beatin0 at the international air)ort# he had been driven to what looked like an army cam)# where he was stri))ed to his underwear and re)eatedly beaten unconscious over $our to $ive days by security $orces wieldin0 assault ri$les# electric

cables# barbed wire and wooden rods+ 1ith 8athavans consent# 'hannel ( News has had si0ht o$ his 7medico; le0al re)ort9 a $orensic medical and le0al document in an e$$ort to con$irm the authenticity o$ his claims+ " s)ecialst doctor $rom /reedom $rom Torture who e*amined him con$irmed that he not only bore lar0e numbers o$ scars consistent with his claims# but that he continues to e*hibit sym)toms o$ ,ost;Traumatic Stress .isorder+ 8athavan said that he believed that he had been identi$ied by the security )ersonnel as havin0 taken )art in )ro;Tamil )rotests in the %&+ -any o$ these events have been o)enly videota)ed by Sri Lankan a0ents and the evidence then used to identi$y those returnin0 $rom the %&+ "sked i$ he had seen or read re)orts o$ other Tamils returnin0 $rom the %& and $acin0 arrest and torture on arrival# he said: 7I had heard about it# but I did not $ully believe it+ Now that it has ha))ened to me# I $ully acce)t every one o$ those re)orts+9 &eith 3est# .irector o$ the London;based /reedom $rom Torture# told 'hannel ( News: 7Since 20 0# over D0 cases have been re$erred to /reedom $rom Torture in which the individual has been detained and tortured havin0 returned to Sri Lanka $rom the %&+ In most cases# the individual returned voluntarily+ The risks may be even 0reater $or those $orced back i$ the Sri Lanan authorities sus)ect they have sou0ht asylum+9 The court o$ a))eal has today 0ranted leave to a))eal a0ainst the recently $ormulated Sri Lanka 'ountry @uidance which allows $or the $orcible return o$ $ailed Tamil asylum;seekers to Sri Lanka+ - See more at: http://blogs.channel4.com/miller-on-foreign-affairs/tortured-sri-lanka2013/3 !"sthash.#!s$lu#%.dpuf