07/02/2015, 00.00
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Sri Lankan activists, Tamils ​​and Buddhists together against all forms of torture

by Melani Manel Perera
A young man detained by police in 2008 did not return. An innocent Sinhalese fisherman ​​died in prison after 14 years. Former President Rajapaksa’s police tortured a Buddhist monk 21 times. AsiaNews relays these stories on World Day against Torture in Sri Lanka.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – "Torture belongs to a slave society. It is cruel, inhuman and not suitable to a free society. For the people and the government of Sri Lanka, it is time to be united in the fight to abolish torture,” said in a statement the Right to Life Organisation (R2LO).

The human rights organisation took part in a meeting on 26 June to mark World Day against Torture in Sri Lanka, scene of a bloody 30-year civil war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels. Another meeting was organised by the Committee for Investigation of Disappearance (CID)

The CID event was held at the Centre for Society and Religion in Colombo as part of CID a programme called ‘People's Tribunal for Victims of Torture".

Many victims and relatives of tortured people were present. Some of those in attendance never saw their loved ones again once in police custody.

This is the case of the relatives of a young man from the north-eastern district of Trincomalee. "My son was taken by the police on 27 May 2008,” his mother said. “We were told that he would be subject to a brief probe, but since then we have had not any news about him.”

“We did not get any justice,” but “We have spent time and money to get to Colombo searching for him. Instead of receiving information, we were victims of harassment."

Devi Amma, a Tamil woman from a village in the north of the country, said she had endured similar treatment when she went in search of her son, who had been arrested.

"The police told us that we had to pay for my son’s release,” she said. “Eventually, after many difficulties, we rented a van and drove to Colombo, but we were harassed and chased by another car. . . . Why do we have to suffer so much?"

Another woman noted that in 2012 she was tortured for four days by police, who had previously arrested her husband and son. The latter never returned.

A young Sinhalese fisherman, 32, endured the same fate. Accused of having links to organised crime, he died just two months before his release, after 14 years in prison.

The venerable Watareka Vijitha Thero (pictured), a Buddhist monk who spoke about the pain he suffered last year, also took part in the meeting.

"Because I had denounced injustice, the disappearance of innocent people and inhumane working conditions, I suffered various forms of torture by the guards of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa,” who was defeated in last January presidential election by Maithripala Sirisena, after ten years of ruthless power.

“I feel deep shame and sorrow in telling what happened to me. The media printed photos of me after I was tortured. When I finally went to the police to file a complaint, I was accused again and again tortured.”

“Two police officers, who had been assigned to me as an escort because I was a member of the provincial council, reported on everything I did, where and when."

The monk was tortured 21 times in 2014. In view of this, “We must act together to stop such brutality in this country. I invite you: let us work together.”

“We call on the authorities to act against such inhuman treatment. The murderers of our relatives are still working in the police and go unpunished. The prime minister and the president Sirisena should not govern the country with these criminals."

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