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09 Nov 2017

Tamil men accuse Sri Lankan govt. of rape, torture, branding

Over 50 Tamil men have accused the current Sri Lankan government of abducting, torturing and raping them on allegations of trying to revive the Tamil Tiger rebel group.

The men have extensive scars on their legs, chest, and backs, all signs supporting their claims of torture, an Associated Press investigation has revealed.

Sri Lankan authorities have denied the allegations. Here's more about it.

In context

Did Sri Lankan govt. rape, torture Tamil men?


Sri Lankan civil war

The Sri Lankan civil war raged between the Tamil Tigers and the government for 26 years until it ended in 2009, killing an estimated 100,000 people.

Around 40,000 civilians were killed in the war's final months.

The government has been accused of committing war crimes which it denies.

Despite shows of reconciliation by the government, many Tamils claim they are treated as "second-class citizens."

Horrific scars

Tamil men claim their bodies were branded with stripes

All 50 or so Tamil men who have alleged abuse are seeking asylum in Europe.

The cases date from early 2016 to July 2017.

Most of the men said they were abducted from the streets or their homes, blindfolded and housed in detention centers.

Nearly all the men said they were branded with marks resembling tiger stripes.

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Torturers identified themselves as Sri Lankan police or army

The victims claim their torturers identified themselves as members of Sri Lanka's criminal investigations department, a police unit that deals with serious crimes. Other victims accused the army. Most victims said they were released after their families paid bribes of around Rs. 2 lakh.


Victims allege they were raped with barb wire-wrapped rods

One man claims he was detained for 21 days during which he was raped 12 times, hung upside down, beaten with iron rods and burned with cigarettes.

"I want the world to know what is happening in Sri Lanka," said one of the men, who added, "The war against Tamils hasn't stopped."

Some men claimed they were raped with rods wrapped with barb wire.

Investigator: Sexual abuse by Sri Lankan authorities "most egregious"

"The levels of sexual abuse being perpetrated in Sri Lanka by authorities are the most egregious and perverted that I've ever seen," said Piers Pigou, a veteran South African human rights investigator.


Victim explains how iron rods were used to brand him

One victim, a former Tamil Tigers member who returned to his family after the civil war, said he was abducted soon after his wedding.

"They heated up iron rods and burned my back with stripes," he said.

"On another occasion, they put chili powder in a bag and put the bag over my head until I passed out. They … raped me."

Sri Lankan army rejects allegations

"The army was not involved - and as for that matter - I'm sure that police also were not involved," Sri Lanka army commander Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake told the Associated Press. "There's no reason for us to do that now," he added.

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