Say NO to Torture

Published : 10:21 am  July 6, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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Commemorating the “United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture”, the Committee for Investigation of the Disappeared organized a people’s tribunal for victims of torture hosted on June 26 at the Centre for Society and Religion.
The event brought into light the dark and sinister experiences of tortured victims, while more emphasis was laid on the violation of Fundamental Rights during the past decade. It was reported that no assurance or compensation had been made to those who were victims of torture, disappearance, killings and abductions most of which have either gone unreported or swept under the carpet.
The event was hosted with the intention of urging the present Government to take actions against perpetrators guilty of crime while many aggrieved family members lamented the loss of their beloved ones due to various unknown reasons.

Destroying dignity
Human Rights Activist and Attorney at Law Nimalka Fernando said that more awareness must be raised on the subject of victims of torture. She said that every individual had the right to stand up against the occurrence of such atrocities in society.

“Violation of Fundamental Rights is looked down upon globally yet the question remains as to why such brutality is still in existence,” she said.


 Everyone must strive hard to sustain the freedom we enjoy now. We do not demand that offenders of law must be tortured but justice must be served fairly. The prevailing law and order is strong but the same cannot be said about our politics which is spineless” she added.

“The main objective of instilling fear and torture in ones’ subject is to destroy the spirit and dignity of that person. Torture is a machine that would leave a man broken at the end of the day. This is why many organizations both local and international are focusing more on the violation of Human Rights, which cannot be justified by any means.resq5

The last decade was the hallmark of the Rajapaksa regime where Sri Lanka was experiencing a time of impunity, when justice was not served to victims of torture,” Ms. Fernando said.
She also said that January 08 has renewed the hopes of people who voted for a regime change.
“The new Government was formed with the hope that more value would be added to the meaning of democracy and human rights,” she said.

She said that every individual had a responsible role to play if justice were to be preserved within Yahapalanaya.
“Everyone must strive hard to sustain the freedom we enjoy now. We do not demand that offenders of law must be tortured but justice must be served fairly. The prevailing law and order is strong but the same cannot be said about our politics which is spineless,” she added.


I too was tortured
resq4Supporting the above views Leader of the New Left Front Dr. Vickremabahu Karunaratne said that there was a clear cut difference in the way people in remand were treated.

“The ordinary are always intimidated by the Police, while special treatment is shown to offenders hailing from high class member. Very often people in custody have to undergo different kinds of torture until they are completely broken. This is done to ensure that the prisoners will not impose a threat or challenge to their custodians,” he said.

“I was also a victim of torture on the few occasions I was taken into remand. There are some who pay corrupt officials to torture prisoners for personal reasons; a technique used by some to avenge their enemies. If cases related to torture are not identified and solved, it would be difficult to establish law and order properly. We have witnessed how innocent people are tortured in the name of racial and ethnic conflict and for political reasons.

“We will always stand up against torture and extend our hands in support of victims of torture no matter what obstacle lies on our way,” Dr. Karunaratne added.


Welikada riots
Chandhimal, a young trade unionist, who was fighting for the rights of the workers and was protesting against the spread of ethnic conflict, said that he was also a victim of torture and shared his horrible experiences at the event.

“I was supporting a trade union action that was protesting against the spread of ethnic conflict. While I was engaged in this I was “white vanned” and taken to a Police station, where I was subjected to brutal and inhuman treatment. My whereabouts were kept a secret from my family for nearly five days. I was tortured and petrol was poured over me. I was on the verge of losing hope when Wickramabahu Karunaratne stepped in for my aid,” he said.

“As a witness of the Welikada prison riot, I strongly believe that the previous regime was behind what happened with an ulterior motive. During my prison tenure I noticed how pathetic the conditions of its inmates were.
“Within its four walls was a condition where one would be beaten even if one laughed or cried. When the riot took place prisoners were tear gassed and tortured until some were shot dead or injured. Among those who died was a prison inmate who was expected to be released within two days though he met a tragic end. Prisoners were hand-picked and then forced to kneel before they met their end,” he claimed.

“The present Government says that it would consider compensating the prisoners, who did not behave violently but the government also fails to understand that most of the prisoners who lost their lives were not armed, though they were brutally shot dead or injured.
“During the tenure of the previous Government Fundamental Rights were violated aplenty and Mahinda’s ghosts are still haunting the new regime, which is why respective authorities remain silent on the issue to a large extent. The riot was nothing but a massacre and I request the Government in power to ensure that the culprits are bought before justice soon.”