Sri Lanka security forces continue to abduct and torture Tamil civilians: human rights group report News
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Sri Lanka security forces continue to abduct and torture Tamil civilians: human rights group report

Sri Lankan security forces continue to impose abduction and torture on Tamil civilians, a Wednesday report from the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) revealed. The report analyzed the statements of 123 Tamils (aggregately detained for a total of 139 times) who were unlawfully detained by Sri Lankan security forces between 2015 and 2022, all of whom now reside outside of Sri Lanka.

The detainments seem to be aimed at rooting out any lasting members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the main Tamil organization that fought the Sinhalese-dominated government in the country’s civil war. Half of the detainees were never associated with LTTE in any capacity. Out of the 139 detentions, 130 involved torture, which included at the very least being severely beaten; other forms of torture included asphyxiation with a bag, burnings by heated objects, repeated drowning and suspension from a rope. Further, 91 of the detainments also included some form of sexual torture. The report reveals that there continues to be a culture of violence directed towards the Tamil community and perpetuated by members of the executive itself. The executive director of ITJP, Yasmin Sooka, remarked:

Impunity is generally defined as the wielding of power without facing any consequences for the commission of crimes, and which over time becomes deeply ingrained within political systems and cultures. In Sri Lanka, impunity has been entrenched over decades without any accountability for serious international crimes committed by the security forces. It is unlikely to stop unless the international community exerts greater pressure on Sri Lanka to deal with security sector reform and to root out those officials responsible for this culture of violence directed against Tamils.

The continuing strife is a remnant of the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka, which erupted in 1983 between the Sinhalese-dominated government and the Tamil minority, who demanded a separate independent state. The war was the manifestation of enduring tensions between the two ethnic groups. The war came to an end in 2009, when the government announced that it had killed the leader of the LTTE. However, even though the war came to an end many years ago, its effects continue to plague Sri Lankan society. Human rights lawyers have said that there continues to be a “slow but steady erosion of Tamil culture and legacy.”