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Sexual Violence in Conflict: Sri Lanka -

rape, sexual assault and forced


prostitution in military-run IDP camps
02 June 2014
Next week, the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict is due to
take place in London, co-hosted by the U!s "o#ei$n Sec#eta#y, %illiam
&a$ue and the Special En'oy fo# the UN &i$h Commissione# fo# (efu$ees,
)n$elina *olie+
,n the #un up to the ESVC summit, we #e'isit the mountin$ e'idence which
documents the widesp#ead, systematic and on-$oin$ use of sexual
'iolence by S#i Lanka!s milita#y a$ainst -amils, that occu#s with absolute
impunity+
See yeste#day!s featu#e. )n o#$y of #ape in final days /01 *un 10234
(ape, Sexual )ssault and "o#ced 5#ostitution of -amils in 6ilita#y-(un in
,75 camps
5hoto$#aph &(% - )#unachalam Camp, 6enik "a#m 28 )u$ust 1008
)s the a#med conflict d#ew to an end in 6ay 1008, an
estimated 900,000 -amils, who had faced #epeated displacement, shellin$
and a se'e#e lack of humanita#ian aid, we#e fo#ced into ,75 camps #un by
the milita#y and detained the#e fo# se'e#al months on end+
(epo#ts of #ape, sexual assault and fo#ced p#ostitution #in$s #un by the
milita#y soon be$an to eme#$e f#om the camps+
) -amil medic, based in the U who had been wo#kin$ as an aid wo#ke# in
the Vanni du#in$ the a#med conflict befo#e bein$ detained in the noto#ious
6enik "a#m camp, 7amil'any uma#, told -he :bse#'e#.
;Sexual abuse is somethin$ that was a common thin$, that , pe#sonally
saw+ ,n the 'isito# a#ea #elati'es would be the othe# side of the fence and
we would be in the camp+ Gi#ls came to wait fo# thei# #elati'es and milita#y
office#s would come and touch them, and that!s somethin$ , saw+
;-he $i#ls usually didn!t talk back to them, because they knew that in the
camp if they talked anythin$ could happen to them+ ,t was <uite open,
e'e#yone could see the milita#y office#s touchin$ the $i#ls,;
;-amil $i#ls usually don!t talk about sexual abuse, they won!t open thei#
mouths about it, but , hea#d the office#s we#e $i'in$ the women money o#
food in #etu#n fo# sex+ -hese people we#e despe#ate fo# e'e#ythin$+;
5#ostitution #ackets we#e p#e'alent, despite $o'e#nment officials bein$
made awa#e of the p#actice, said inte#national aid wo#ke#s+ ,nte#national
humanita#ian a$encies had little o# no access, due to se'e#e #est#ictions
placed by the $o'e#nment+
:ne aid wo#ke#, who #epo#ted p#ostitution #ackets in 5ulmoddai camp,
told -he )ust#alian,
;,t!s been b#ou$ht to the attention of senio# $o'e#nment officials but no
one seems to be doin$ anythin$ about it+;
;,t!s ha#d to know whethe# it!s coe#ci'e o# not, but the#e is an a'e#a$e of
th#ee families li'in$ to a tent and it can be ext#emely difficult t#yin$ to $et
p#i'acy+ =ou can ima$ine the milita#y comin$ in and askin$ fo# somethin$ in
#etu#n fo# mo#e space o# mo#e fa'ou#s+;
:ne woman, with links to the camps, told Sky News of #apes and
disappea#ances within the camps.
;, belie'e the#e is sexual assault and ha#assment in the camps+ , belie'e
that these child#en and youn$ ones a#e $oin$ to $et disappea#ed, but we
don!t know what is happenin$ to them, because the#e is no info#mation,
the#e is no t#anspa#ency, we >ust don!t know what is happenin$+;
-he S#i Lankan $o'e#nment #e>ected all #epo#ts of sexual 'iolence in the
,75 camps, with officials often accusin$ fellow detainees o# inte#national aid
wo#ke#s of abuse, o# dismissin$ #epo#ts as consensual+
5alitha ohona, then Sec#eta#y to the "o#ei$n 6inist#y, and subse<uently
S#i Lanka!s 5e#manent (ep#esentati'e to the UN, #e>ected any alle$ations of
sexual 'iolence by the state!s secu#ity fo#ces as ;absolute #ubbish;+
;-hese ?milita#y@ a#e the $uys who a#e winnin$ the wa# - they could ha'e
#aped e'e#y sin$le woman on the way if they wanted to+ Not one sin$le
woman was #aped+;
7ismissin$ #epo#ts of p#ostitution #in$s, ohona added,
;, am su#e in a mass of people the#e may be indi'iduals who want to make
a <uick buck one way o# anothe#, but you ha'e to #emembe# the tents a#e
so close to$ethe# you can!t do anythin$ without the enti#e nei$hbo#hood
knowin$+ ,f you had a #acket $oin$, thousands of people would know about
it+;
S#i Lanka!s 7efence Sec#eta#y, Gotabaya (a>apaksa, accused the A#itish
-amil aid wo#ke#, 7amil'any uma# of fab#icatin$ the sto#y in an inte#'iew
with &eadlines -oday.
;Now, she ?7amil'any uma#@ says that the#e had been all these alle$ed
#ape and mu#de# and all these thin$s+ Now she is one pe#son who will $et
att#acted by soldie#s, because she is so diffe#ent f#om othe#s+
, want to know whethe# she was #aped+ She was the#e fo# one yea#+ She
came with the ,75s, and she was in the ,75 camps+;
-he pe#manent sec#eta#y to the 6inist#y of 7isaste# 6ana$ement and
&uman (i$hts, (a>i'a %i>esinha, statin$ that alle$ations of #ape by the
milita#y lacked sufficient details to be substantiated, told -he :bse#'e#.
;%e #ecei'ed a #epo#t that a soldie# went into a tent at 22pm and came out
at 9am+ ,t could ha'e been sex fo# pleasu#e, it could ha'e been sex fo#
fa'ou#s, o# it could ha'e been a discussion on )ncient G#eek philosophy, we
don!t know+;
:n anothe# occasion when asked by a Sky News #epo#te# about the
alle$ations of sexual 'iolence within the camps, 6# %i>esinha #eplied.
;-he#e a#e a few blue eyed child#en in that camp, so you know that some
of the NG:s ha'e had a >olly $ood time when they we#e up in Va'uniya, so
when you $o up >ust ha'e a look and t#y and identify them+;
7espite the passin$ of fi'e yea#s, fea# of #ep#isal, psycholo$ical t#auma and
social sti$ma, ha'e #esulted in many 'ictims #emainin$ silent+
&e#e is an ext#act f#om the testimony of one woman, published in a #epo#t
- !)n Unfinished %a#. -o#tu#e and Sexual Violence in S#i Lanka 1008B1023!
- by =asmin Sooka, an autho# of the UN 5anel of Expe#ts #epo#t on mass
at#ocities in S#i Lanka, -he Aa# &uman (i$hts Committee of En$land and
%ales /A&(C4 and -he ,nte#national -#uth C *ustice 5#o>ect, S#i Lanka.
-he fi#st time the soldie#s #aped he# in the #ehabilitation camp, she
sta$$e#ed to the toilet to wash the blood off, befo#e #etu#nin$ to he# tent in
silence+ She didnDt b#eathe a wo#d fo# shame E and fea# that one of the
othe# fo#me# -amil -i$e# #ebels in the tent mi$ht be an info#me#+
F, did not tell the othe# women ,Dd been #aped as it is not somethin$ we
would discuss in ou# cultu#e+ , suspected the othe# women in my tent we#e
also bein$ #aped but , did not ask them about it+ :'e# the enti#e pe#iod ,
was in this #ehabilitation camp none of us e'e# spoke about the #apes+G
,tDs ha#d to ima$ine the loneliness and mist#ust in that tent+ Vasantha
noticed sc#atch ma#ks f#om fin$e#nails on othe# womenDs faces+ %hen they
washed in the open ai# showe#s, fully clothed, she spotted the b#uises on
thei# le$s+ Sometimes she hea#d sc#eamin$ f#om the main buildin$ whe#e
they we#e taken fo# inte##o$ation+ She watched othe# women bein$ taken
away at ni$ht and always #etu#nin$ 'ia the toilet and she knew why+
Vasantha was a 'i#$in until that ni$ht when two d#unken S#i Lankan
soldie#s placed a ba$ sp#ayed with pet#ol o'e# he# head and then #aped he#+
Some months late#, she was taken fo# inte##o$ation a$ain+ ) soldie# o#de#ed
he# to st#ip naked and when she t#ied to fi$ht him off, he knocked he# to
the $#ound and #aped he#, di$$in$ his nails into he# back so ha#d that the
sc#atches bled+ Aefo#e Vasantha could put he# ski#t back on a$ain, anothe#
man came into the #oom and sta#ted takin$ off his shi#t, t#ouse#s and
unde#wea#+ F&e pushed me to the floo#+ , t#ied to put up a #esistance but he
#aped me+ , could smell the alcohol on his b#eath+ , was exhausted and
fainted+ , cannot #ecall clea#ly what was happenin$ but , hea#d doo#s bein$
opened and closed and , think othe# people came into the #oom+G ,n pain
and bleedin$ hea'ily, Vasantha e'entually #etu#ned to he# tent, 'ia the
toilet once a$ain+
-he next time she was called fo# inte##o$ation, the soldie# used his
ci$a#ette butt to bu#n he# se'e#al times on the a#ms and thi$h, while sayin$
somethin$ in Sinhala that she couldnDt unde#stand+ :nce heDd finished
#apin$ he#, a second man #aped he#+ Vasantha #emembe#s these fi#st two
smelt st#on$ly of ci$a#ettes+ ) thi#d man came, slapped he# ha#d when she
t#ied to #esist, and #aped he#+G , think the#e was a fou#th and fifth man as
well,G she says, F, was in and out of consciousness by then+;
?mo#e@
Aack$#ound
U "o#ei$n Sec#eta#y %illiam &a$ue calls fo#
pe#pet#ato#s of sexual 'iolence in S#i Lanka!s
conflict to be b#ou$ht to account, speakin$ in
Colombo, No' 1029
-he ESVC summit follows the 7ecla#ation of Commitment to End Sexual
Violence in Conflict, tabled by the 6# &a$ue and endo#sed by two-thi#ds of
UN membe# states, which condemns the on-$oin$ use of sexual 'iolence in
conflicts and pled$ed to ensu#e >ustice fo# 'ictims+
S#i Lanka was hi$hli$hted by the US Sec#eta#y of State &illa#y Clinton as a
key count#y whe#e #ape was used as a tactic of wa#, in :ctobe# 1008, only
a few months afte# the a#med conflict ended+
)dd#essin$ an UN Secu#ity Council focused on #ape in wa#, she said.
;Now, #eadin$ the headlines, one mi$ht think that the use of #ape as a
tactic of wa# only happens occasionally, o# in a few places, like the
7emoc#atic (epublic of the Con$o o# Sudan+
-hat would be bad enou$h, but the #eality is much wo#se+ %eD'e seen #ape
used as a tactic of wa# befo#e in Aosnia, Au#ma, S#i Lanka, and elsewhe#e+
,n too many count#ies and in too many cases, the pe#pet#ato#s of this
'iolence a#e not punished, and so this impunity encou#a$es fu#the# attacks+
Speakin$ in Colombo in No'embe# last yea#, the U "o#ei$n Sec#eta#y
%illiam &a$ue calledfo# accountability and >ustice fo# 'ictims of sexual
'iolence by S#i Lanka!s a#med fo#ces as pa#t of the !H-ime-o)ct! campai$n.
;-o date, too little has been done, to hold people to account fo# c#imes of
sexual 'iolence+ -he alle$ations include #epo#ts f#om the UN panel of
expe#ts that #ape was used by $o'e#nment fo#ces du#in$ the final sta$es of
the conflict, and befo#e+G
FClaims f#om &uman (i$hts %atch that sexual to#tu#e has been used to
ext#act confessions and continued conce#ns of the 'ulne#ability of the
women and $i#ls to sexual ha#assment and abuse, pa#ticula#ly the ninety
thousand wa# widows li'in$ in a#eas with a la#$e milita#y p#esence+G
:#$y of (ape in "inal 7ays
5hoto$#aph Channel 3
)s the a#med conflict d#ew to an end, S#i Lanka!s soldie#s committed acts
of sexual 'iolence a$ainst -amil women and men, both ci'ilians and L--E
cad#e, at will+
:ne S#i Lankan soldie# told Channel 3 in *uly 1022.
;-hey ?S#i Lankan soldie#s@ shoot people at #andom, stab people, #ape
them, cut thei# ton$ues out, cut women!s b#easts off+ , ha'e witnessed all
this with my own eyes+ , ha'e seen small child#en layin$ dead+;
;,f they wanted to #ape a -amil $i#l, they could >ust beat he# and do it+ ,f
he# pa#ents t#ied to stop them, they could beat them o# kill them+ ,t was
thei# empi#e+;
;:ne day , saw a $#oup of six soldie#s #apin$ a youn$ -amil $i#l+ , saw this
with my own eyes+;
6uch of the photo$#aphic and 'ideo e'idence of sexual 'iolence in the final
sta$es of the a#med conflict eme#$ed in the fo#m of !t#ophy 'ideos!, filmed
by S#i Lankan soldie#s themsel'es whilst committin$ the c#imes+
:ne of the latest 'ideos to eme#$e depicts soldie#s pe#fo#min$ acts of
sexual 'iolence on the st#ipped, dead bodies of -amil L--E fi$hte#s+
Object 1
7esc#ibin$ the foota$e, acclaimed documenta#y make# and di#ecto# of !S#i
Lanka!s illin$ "ields!, Callum 6ac#ae said,
;Scatte#ed in the clea#in$ a#e the bodies of what appea# to be -amil -i$e#
#ebels+ -he women, but not the men, ha'e been st#ipped in a manna#
su$$estin$ sexual assault+ -hou$h many of these ima$es a#e too
dist#essin$ to be shown on tele'ision+
)t a couple of points as soldie#s lau$h, acts of $#otes<ue sexual 'iolence
a#e pe#pet#ated on the bodies of one of the women+;
Simila#ly, the #ape and killin$ of L--E news ancho#, ,saiyap#iya, has come to
li$ht th#ou$h a se#ies of photo$#aphs depictin$ he# pa#tially naked in the
custody of milita#y pe#sonnel, befo#e bein$ sexually 'iolated and killed+
Object 2
7espite the $#owin$ numbe# of independently authenticated 'ideo foota$e
and photo$#aphs depictin$ soldie#s committin$ acts of sexual 'iolence, the
S#i Lankan $o'e#nment!s flatly #e>ects all accusations+
(espondin$ to 'ideo foota$e published by Channel 3 News, the S#i Lankan
&i$h Commission in the U said in 6a#ch this yea#.
;=ou# latest attempt to deni$#ate S#i Lanka is a continuation of you#
pe#nicious campai$n that has al#eady been exposed in the book Co##upted
*ou#nalism Channel 3 and S#i Lanka+
=ou# alle$ations a#e such unmiti$ated and unsubstantiated #ubbish that you
make e'en $utte# >ou#nalism appea# to be 5ulitIe# 5#iIe-winnin$
p#ofessionalism+
%hat makes you# >ou#nalism doubly dubious and obnoxiously unbalanced is
that you expect us to comment on foota$e which, in fai#ness, we ha'e not
e'en been $i'en the oppo#tunity of seein$ o# hea#in$+
,t is a pity that you# continuin$ p#opa$andist 'endetta a$ainst S#i Lanka
only continues to unde#mine the p#ocess of #econciliation and healin$ that
we ha'e unde#taken afte# a nea# th#ee-decade lon$ te##o#ist wa#+
,t is ce#tainly not $oin$ to help those in S#i Lanka you p#etend you a#e
helpin$ but who only wish to li'e in peace without exte#nal meddlin$ and
postu#in$+
=ou# c#ude >ou#nalism exposes both Callum and you# calumny;+