Rape of Tamil Women: Sri Lankan Army's Weapon of War
The Sri Lankan Army has been using rape as a weapon of war in the Tamil regions over 30 years. Currently, most of North East Tamil regions are under Sri Lankan Army’s control. Forced disappearance of Tamils for torture and rape is the norm in these regions. Most of these Tamils are killed eventually. In the books of Sri Lankan Govenrment, these people will be identified as LTTE.
In Sri Lanka's history, Sri Lankan Army's behavior towards Tamils community has been packed with animosity. In addition to that, the current situation also lacks independent monitoring or media. Consequently, the Sri Lankan Government and Army have given themselves a free pass to get rid of the Tamils in Sri Lanka by torture, rape, random arrests, kidnapping and killing.
Sri Lankan Army has used rape as a demoralizing weapon against Tamil community. Following stories tell the tales of who vanished under the strict media ban of the Sri Lankan Government; Indenpendent media and monitoring in the Sri Lankan Army captured Tamils regions may somewhat save Tamils civilians from similar fate.
INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA
State Terror - the Record Speaks...
Rape & Murder of Tamil Women "Sri Lankan soldiers have raped both women and young girls on a massive scale, and often with impunity, since reporting often leads to reprisals against the victims and their families.." World Organization against Torture
"The Sri Lankan security forces are using systematic rape and murder of Tamil women to subjugate the Tamil population... Impunity continues to reign as rape is used as a weapon of war in Sri Lanka." Asian Human Rights Commission
"..On average, a Tamil woman is raped by members of the Sri Lankan security forces every two weeks. The real number is inevitably higher since many cases are unreported. Every two months a Tamil woman is gang-raped and murdered by the Sri Lankan security forces."Statement by NGO, Women Against Rape, at United Nations Commission on Human Rights
... Ambalavanar Punithavathy, Thanuskodi Premini, Ilaiyathamby Tharshini, Thambipillai Thanalakshmi, Velu Arshadevi - Mahendiran Nageswari - Vijayaratnam Subashini, Thangiah Vijayalalitha, Sinnathamby Sivamany, Yogalingam Vijitha - Ehamparam Wijikala, Sathasivam Rathykala, Sarathambal, Ida Carmelitta, Koneswary, Velan Rasamma, Velan Vasantha, Rajani Velauthapillai, Selvarajah Renuka, Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, Lakshmi Pillai & hundreds of others...
Woman gang raped in Vadamaraadchi, 28 December 2007
"....The fate of Premini was terrible. The dusky woman with attractive features and a slight squint was taken to another camp and raped ..it was a horrible gang rape with TMVP (Sri Lanka Para Military) cadres taking turns to sexually assault her.... Premini was heard to shout and cry at the start. Later she merely sobbed and whimpered...She was apparently hacked to death and thrown into the bushes." more
Rape and murder of Ilaiyathamby Tharshini , 18 December 2005 "The description given below of Tharshini’s disappearance on 16th December 2005 and the discovery of her body in an abandoned village well is put together from statements made by Tharshini’s relatives and neighbours to one of NESOHR’s committee members. NESOHR has made the decision to withhold the identity of the relatives and neighbours from this report because their safety may be compromised if these are revealed. NESOHR is ready to share this information with any leading international human rights organization that is willing to join us in taking up this case of the rape and murder of Tharshini..." more
Report of Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women - Yakin Etturk,UN Commission on Human Rights, 60th Sessions 3 March 2004 "..On 24 September 2003, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint communication with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture regarding the case of S.R. (f), aged 22, held in detention in Batticaloa since 23 July 2002. She was arrested on 24 November 2001 by four male police officers from the Methirigirya police station on the basis of being a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and was reportedly taken to the office of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Polonaruwa. At about midnight, she was put alone in a cell, where it is alleged that officers from the Methirigirya police station and the Polonaruva CID threatened to shoot her with a gun, put chili powder all over her body, suspended her from the ceiling, slapped her repeatedly, kicked her back, beat her with a rope, and burnt her all over with cigarettes. She was then allegedly raped by 12 police officers while in custody of CID..."
The empty rhetoric of women’s rights - Vidya Cumaraswamy, Tamil Guardian, 23 April 2003 "There is a vast distance between the policy and practice of women's rights in Sri Lanka. It is almost exactly two years since the rape and torture of Ms Sivamani Weerakon and Wijikala Nanthakumar in Sri Lankan military custody. Both women were stripped and attacked by members of the Counter Subversive Unit (CSU). Despite the passage of considerable time, the Sri Lankan justice system has failed to prosecute or even indict the men accused of raping and torturing the two Tamil women..."
Violence Against Women in Sri Lanka - Report by World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), November 2002 "The actual incidence of rape and sexual violence committed by police and security forces is certainly far higher than that which is reported. Women in Sri Lanka are frequently prevented through fear and shame from reporting acts of sexual violence. Fear of social ostracism and retaliation, when combined with the widespread lack of gender-sensitivity amongst police, judicial and medical personnel act as powerful deterrents to women reporting violence and pursuing legal action against the perpetrators. The prevailing climate of impunity for acts of sexual violence against women from ethnic minorities and the fact that women who are victims of violence frequently have no safe place to stay during investigations or trials are further elements that dissuade women from reporting crimes of violence committed against them...”
British Refugee Council on Rape in Custody, January 2002 "...In a letter to the new Defence minister Tilak Marapane, the All Ceylon Public Employees Front says six armed men abducted two married Tamil women at Attalaichenai in Amparai District in early January and raped them. The two sisters who are from Mandur in Batticaloa had gone to Attalaichenai to work in rice fields. Local MP Ariyanayagam Chandranehru says police have taken no action to apprehend the perpetrators..." Amnesty Reports on Rapes in Custody, January 2002 Thambipillai Thanalakshmi : "...Thambipillai Thanalakshmi, 42-year-old Tamil woman from Meesalai, Jaffna district was reportedly dragged from her home at around 8.30pm on 7 July 2001 by soldiers allegedly attached to the Kachchai army camp. They took her to a nearby rice field where she was raped by at least three of them. Thambipillai Thanalakshmi’s mother tried to intervene after hearing her daughter screaming, but was assaulted and hit with rifles by the soldiers. Velu Arshadevi - Mahendiran Nageswari - Vijayaratnam Subashini - Thangiah Vijayalalitha - Sinnathamby Sivamany - Yogalingam Vijitha - Ehamparam Wijikala ".. The Officer-in-Charge (OIC) .. asked her to sit on the floor and she complied. The OIC then asked a male police officer named Rajah to bring a piece of cloth. Rajah blindfolded her with the piece of cloth. She was told to remove her clothes. When she refused she was beaten and her clothes were forcibly removed by them. Then, while some of them held her hands and legs one person got on top of her, soon afterwards followed by another one. She said they both raped her..."
Brutal Sexual Assault & Torture of Sathasivam Rathykala, November 2001 "..She was arrested by four male police officers from the Medigiriya police station on 24.11.2000 around 12 noon when she was on duty. She was then taken to CID office in Polonaruwa in a police jeep. While in jeep she was scolded by policemen in filth and was threatened that she would be killed. One policeman stamped on her right foot forcefully with shod foot.At about 12.30 p.m. she was handed over to the Polonaruwa CID office. There she was detained for two days. ...Thereafter the Police officials ordered her to take off all the clothes except her panty and bra. She begged them not to force her to remove her clothes. Subsequently she was subjected to body search by police officials touching her whole body including her genital area and breast. She was not given lunch. .. She asked the Police to inform her parents about her arrest. The Police did not accede to that request. Later she was threatened and assaulted by the police inside the cell. She then fainted. When she regained consciousness she found herself lying on the bed in another room. The police officers forced her to remove her bra and panty. She begged and pleaded with them not to harm her. The police officials then threatened her that she would be killed and her body would be disposed after cutting her neck. Subsequently one by one twelve police officers had sexual intercourse with her until next morning 5 'clock. As a result she had many scratch marks on her breasts. She also had severe abdominal pain."
Chilling fear of rape haunts Tamil women in Sri Lanka reports Associated Press, August 2001 "..Arshadevi told The Associated Press in an interview that instead of being taken to the police station, she was pushed into a narrow concrete staircase leading to an army camp. For the next hour and a half, she said, she was gang raped as she cried out for her attackers to stop. The policeman who led her to the stairway, S. Premathilake, now faces charges of rape along with two of his colleagues. Arshadevi's ordeal has brought protests from Tamil parliament members and human rights organizations..."
Sexual violence against Tamil women - D. B. S. Jeyaraj, 7 July 2001 "...A 28 year old Tamil woman of Indian origin from Badulla was working as cashier at a hotel in Fort. The mother of two was staying at a lodge in Maradana. After work she walked home passing through the checkpoint manned by Police and Army personnel.. Her address and name was noted by the cops and allowed to pass. Later the Policemen went to her residence in the night and forced her under threat of arrest, to come to the checkpoint. Since the current security situation enables Security Personnel to wield unlimited power over any Tamil suspect, the woman reluctantly agreed. She was gang raped by the cops and soldiers. She was warned under threat of death to keep quiet..."
Reporter threatened after covering rape of jailed Tamil women - Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), April 2001 "The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about the security of A.S.M. Fasmi, a reporter for the Tamil-language newspaper Thinakkural. Fasmi, who is based on the northern island of Mannar, says he has been detained, interrogated, and threatened repeatedly with death since he reported on the alleged rape of two Tamil women detained by local security forces last month..."
An open letter to President Chandrika B. Kumaratunge - Rape and torture of innocent Tamil women - Victor Rajakulendran, April 2001 "...Your Excellency, according to the Catholic Bishop of Mannar Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, the CSU has been in the habit of arresting women such as Sivamani and Wijikala from various parts of the Mannar district to rape, and exploit brutally under the pretext of interrogation and extended detention, under the PTA and the Emergency Regulations. According to a statement issued by the Bishop Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph on the 31st of March, "The atrocities of the Sri Lankan navy personnel in Mannar district are growing bad to worse daily. All my efforts to get the Sri Lanka Navy to respect the basic human rights of the people so affected by the prolonged war are proving futile. I have again appealed to the Commander General of the Sri Lankan Navy for redress on behalf of the civil public of Mannar..."
Sri Lanka Security forces getting away with rape says Amnesty, April 2001 "Amnesty International today wrote to the President of Sri Lanka urging her to take action to stop rape by security forces and bring perpetrators to justice. Following several recent reports of rape by security forces in Mannar, Batticaloa, Negombo and Jaffna, the organization reminded President Chandrika Kumaratunga that safeguards to protect women in custody (as contained in presidential directives for the welfare of detainees issued in July 1997) were being ignored...."
Statement by NGO, Women Against Rape, at United Nations Commission on Human Rights, March 2001 TCHR has gathered detailed and specific documentation on the widespread violations of the human rights of women rape victims. * On average, a Tamil woman is raped by members of the Sri Lankan security forces every two weeks. The real number is inevitably higher since many cases are unreported.
* Every two months a Tamil woman is gang-raped and murdered by the Sri Lankan security forces. Personnel from the Special Task Force, the Sri Lankan Navy, Army and Police and Home guards operating with the Sri Lankan army, have raped Tamil women. Senior personnel such as captains are known to have been involved in gang-rape and murders, and have been named by victims and witnesses, but none has ever been convicted nor punished.
Sri Lanka security forces rape Tamil women with impunity "...Wijikala, according to her relatives, is pregnant and was raped repeatedly by Policemen in CSU custody. The Mannar Bishop and human rights activists said Wednesday that the CSU has often been in the habit of arresting women such as Sivamani and Wijikala from various parts of the Mannar district to rape and exploit brutally under the pretext of interrogation and extended detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations. .."
Sri Lanka accused of rape at UN Sub Commision on Human Rights, August 2000 "Rape is a ... very serious concern. On July 7 last, Mr. Pararajasingham, Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) MP for Batticaloa, read out a letter written to the Sri Lanka's National Human Rights Commission by a seventy year old woman of Neervely in Jaffna who was raped and robbed by Sri Lankan army personnel on May 31. The MP said he was bringing the letter to the attention of the house as the matter had been suppressed under the censorship. Furthermore residents in Mannar reported on June 19 that Sri Lankan police officers in Sinnakadai area in Mannar have attempted to rape women in the nearby areas after forcibly opening the doors at night..." The International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples
Sri Lanka Navy gang rapes and murders Sarathambal, a Brahmin Tamil Mother "On the evening of Tuesday 28th December 1999, Sarathambal Saravanbavananthakurukal, of a Hindu Brahmin family, was forcibly dragged from her home, in Pungudutivu, near Jaffna Peninsula, by Sri Lankan Navy soldiers. They then gang-raped and murdered her in cold blood. The body of the 29 year-old mother was found the following morning, under leaves, not far from her home near Kannaki Amman Temple..."
" Rape as a weapon of war : The Sri Lankan security forces are using systematic rape and murder of Tamil women to subjugate the Tamil population. 28 December 1999, Mrs.Sarathambal Saravanbavananthakurukal, 29, was forcibly dragged out from her home, in Pungudutivu, near Jaffna Peninsula, by Sri Lankan Navy soldiers. She was gang-raped and murdered Her body was found the following day, under bushes near Kannaki Amman Temple which is nearby her home. AHRC received this information from reliable sources. It is alleged by witnesses that the soldiers who raped Sarathambal have been transferred from the area to prevent action being taken against them. This is a familiar method used by the authorities to avoid scrutiny. Impunity continues to reign as rape is used as a weapon of war in Sri Lanka..." Asian Human Rights Commission
Ida Carmelitta tortured, raped and killed by Sri Lanka military "...Asian Human Rights Commision received information from reliable sources that Fahreen Ida Carmelitta Laila or Ida Carmelitta was raped and killed allegedly by soldiers on 12th July night in Pallimunai village in Mannar Island. Five masked men, heavily armed came and forcefully pulled out the girl from the house and violently raped her and killed her.The post mortem report submitted by Dr Emmanuel Pieries, District Medical officer of Mannar observed that the victim had been repeatedly raped. Her lips and breasts were bitten off violently. She was shot through her organ..." "Colombo human rights agency the Forum for Human Dignity has recorded over 45 rapes by soldiers in the north-east since February 1996. Local agencies say many rape victims do not report their ordeal for fear of retaliation or ostracization from the community. Most rape cases remain uninvestigated. In July, the CIUAH wrote to the Sri Lankan Attorney General urging action against three soldiers accused of raping a Muslim woman at Oddamavady in Batticaloa District, in the presence of her husband..."
Human Rights NGOs condemn rape by Sri Lanka armed forces Kanthasamy Kalanithy, June 1998 "On the 25th of June 1998, the army chief of the Mirusuvil army camp in the Jaffna area, ordered Kanthasamy Kalanithy, a 26-year old Tamil woman, to marry one of his Sinhalese soldiers. He forced her to stand in front of ten Sri Lankan soldiers and to choose one of them, When she refused to respond he ordered one of the soldiers to put a pottu (a red spot signifying her marriage to him) on her forehead. When she screamed in protest, she was gang-raped and then killed. The army refused to hand over her body for examination and they have attempted to threaten her parents into silence." "......Reports about Tamil women being raped by the army are on the rise. Only one of the thousands of rapes which have been reported, has resulted in a conviction. Victims are frightened of reprisals and there seems to be little point in reporting their cases, since the only place to lodge a complaint is with the very same security forces who commit the rapes. There also seems to be little point to expect justice on the basis of the constitution since the constitution itself provides the mechanisms and justifications for the commission of these war crimes and encourages impunity. .." Pax Romana - Non Governmental Organisation
"...Systematic rape of Tamil women living in their homeland by the Sri Lankan armed forces has been going on for decades. Before the Sinhalese armed occupation of the Tamil homeland, the security forces were organising pogroms against the Tamils, where Sinhalese men gang-raped hundreds of Tamil women before burning them alive. The pogroms happened regularly throughout the last fifty years, and the rapings and murders were never punished by the Sinhalese state, each pogrom bigger than the last, until the all out war began..." North-South XXI - Non-Governmental Organisation
Sri Lanka Police rape and murder Koneswary, a young Tamil mother "The barbaric rape and murder of a young mother ...has sent shockwaves around Batticaloa ...Parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham in a letter to the President has said ..the policeman who committed this alleged offence had in a dastardly attempt to cover up the act exploded a hand grenade in the private parts of the victim. Police had then told relatives to bury the body without a medical examination." "Murugesupillai Koneswary, a mother of four children, was killed at her home in 11th Colony village by a grenade being thrown at her genitals on the evening of 17 May. Reportedly only her two-year-old child was present when the attackers entered her house. Her husband and three older children were not at home..." Amnesty International
Amnesty reports on rape of Tamil widow and her sister by four Sinhala soldiers Velan Rasamma - Velan Vasantha "Amnesty International has received reliable reports that Velan Vasantha attempted to commit suicide by swallowing poison. She had reportedly left a note explaining to her prospective husband that she was unable to continue to live after what happened to her. The suicide attempt was unsuccessful."
150 Tamils raped by Sinhala 'law enforcers' in 1996 says South China Morning Post, January 1997 "Human rights activists claim more than 150 women, mostly minority Tamils, were raped by police and armed forces personnel last year. In the past few months the nation has been outraged by a series of sex offences, followed in some instances by the death or disappearance of victims. Security forces are allegedly behind the incidents, which are widespread in the war-ravaged north and east. Rights groups and mainstream Tamil political parties are now up in arms over the alleged rape of five women by policemen in Colombo's suburbs. "
Three Tamil women, including a mother and daughter, were raped at their home by soldiers on 9 January 1977 "Sri Lankan soldiers violently raped three Tamil women in Batticaloa. At 3am (January 2nd) troops broke into a Tamil house where a mother, daughter and woman relative were sleeping. The rapes took place at gun-point. Neighbours later admitted all three to Valaichenai hospital. The soldiers are members of the STF, the so-called elite force of the Sri Lankan army. Rapes by the STF are said to be occurring on a regular basis in Sri Lankan-occupied areas..."
Sri Lanka continues to use Rape as a Weapon of Terror... "Rajani Velauthapillai, 22, was raped and murdered by the Sri Lankan military manning a checkpoint at Kondavil, a village near the Jaffna city. Rajani's fiance lives in Canada and she was to join him in a few weeks. As per traditions, she was visiting family elders to bid farewell and to obtain their blessings before leaving for Canada. On Sep 30, 1996 at about 3:30 PM, Rajani was arrested by the SL soldiers manning the Kondavil checkpoint for no apparent reasons. Several people had witnessed her arrest. Rajani was then dragged into a nearby house inhabited by two elderly people. The soldiers chased the two occupants out of the house. They then gang-raped Rajani and murdered her. Her bruised naked body was found later in the toilet of the empty house."
Child rape - the case of ten year old Renuka, November 1996 "Selvarajah Renuka is a 10 year old Tamil Hindu girl, living in Pathmeni, Atchuvely on the Jaffna Peninsula. A 5th grade student, she was on her way to school last Tuesday (12th November 96). At 8.15, she was abducted by Sri Lankan soldiers and taken to the Sri Lankan army's Puttur V.C. camp. There, she was stripped and raped repeatedly by Sinhala soldiers. When they had finished, the soldiers released the child. The principal of her school went to Atchuvely-Atchelu main army camp to register a formal protest. He took Renuka with him. The camp commanders made no attempt to investigate the complaint..."
Gang Rape of Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, September 1996 " Of the numerous arrests, rapes and murders of the girls and boys in Jaffna, one comes to light. Most, however, go unreported because the Sri Lankan army bans independent reporters from traveling to the peninsula, and the government censors news about conditions in Jaffna. On Saturday Sep. 7, 1996, Krishanthi Kumarasamy, an 18 year old student at Chundikuli Girls' High School went missing, soon after she had taken her first paper at the GCE A/L examination. She was seen by a number of witnesses being taken into custody by Sinhala army personnel at the Kaithady checkpoint, and she disappeared soon after. According to a report published later in the Sri Lanka Sunday Times (Nov 3, 1996), "She was stopped at the checkpoint and three soldiers allegedly raped her until she fell unconscious. When she revived, according to the confessions, police officers and six soldiers further raped her."
Amnesty International documents several cases of rape by Sri Lanka security forces, September 1996 "In August 1995 Lakshmi Pillai was raped at her home in Trincomalee by two army informants in front of her two sons. The motive may have been revenge as she had spoken out about being raped before at Plantain Point army camp in August 1993. The informants were arrested but later released on bail pending trial. On 7 March 1996, a 45-year-old woman was raped by soldiers at Thiyavedduwan checkpoint. Her husband was beaten with rifle butts. Both were admitted to Valaichchenai hospital. " "On 7 March 1996, a 45-year-old woman was raped by soldiers at Thiyavedduwan checkpoint. Her husband was beaten with rifle butts. Both were admitted to Valaichchenai hospital."
Latest Update: June 13, 2010
Over an year after the Sri Lanka's claimed victory over the Tamil rebels, Sri Lankan Security forces still use rape as a weapon to demoralize the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. Many rapes are gone unreported. Reported ones are seldom brought to justice due to the pressure of Sri Lankan Security officers pressure on police and judges.
June 13, 2010:
A 25-year old mother of two children was raped by six Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers last Sunday night in the resettlement village of Redbarna located at the border of Mullaiththeevu district, Jaffna daily Uthayan reported. The incident occurred when the soldiers entered the house when the mother was alone. The family relocated to the village two weeks earlier as part of the resettlement program.