Locked Away: Sri Lanka's "Security" Detainees

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Sri Lanka

Prisoners have been held for extended periods without charge at Welikada Prison © Private

I want to tell you a story about a man arrested in Sri Lanka.  It’s shocking.

In June 2008, “Roshan” (not his real name) was arrested in Colombo by unknown assailants who he later learned were plainclothes police.  The police suspected him of links to the opposition Tamil Tigers.  He was held for two years without ever being charged or tried and was repeatedly tortured, before eventually being released.  No one has been held accountable for his treatment.

Shocking as it is, “Roshan”‘s case is not an isolated one.  A new Amnesty International report released today, Locked away:  Sri Lanka’s security detainees, reveals how arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearance remain routine in Sri Lanka, almost three years after the government’s victory over the Tigers.  Security legislation developed during the 26-year civil war facilitated human rights violations by government forces against tens of thousands of civilians.  Impunity for these abuses is the rule and continues today.

If Sri Lanka is really to move from war to peace, it must restore the rule of law and provide all those arrested with due process in accordance with international law.

Please send an online letter to the Sri Lankan government asking them to release the hundreds of security detainees currently languishing in jail or else promptly charge them with recognizable crimes and give them fair trials.  Write today!  Thanks.

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14 thoughts on “Locked Away: Sri Lanka's "Security" Detainees

  1. A few others that I don't see listed but they were smaller or foreign movies:

    In the Time of the Butterflies

    The Motorcycle Diaries

    The Magdelene Sisters

    Doubt (which was a bit ambiguous) not sure if it won best picture.

    The Woodsman (regarding pedophilia from the pedophile's perspective

    Michael Collins

    So many holocaust movies and WWII ones that we can't use all of them as examples of bringing attention to that occurrence…like The Pianist, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Life is Beautiful.

    And while only a TV movie, albeit a very topical one at the moment
    Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story..regarding women's reproduction rights. It should be a major release film made now due to newsworthiness.

  2. A few others that I don’t see listed but they were smaller or foreign movies:

    In the Time of the Butterflies

    The Motorcycle Diaries

    The Magdelene Sisters

    Doubt (which was a bit ambiguous) not sure if it won best picture.

    The Woodsman (regarding pedophilia from the pedophile’s perspective

    Michael Collins

    So many holocaust movies and WWII ones that we can’t use all of them as examples of bringing attention to that occurrence…like The Pianist, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Life is Beautiful.

    And while only a TV movie, albeit a very topical one at the moment
    Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story..regarding women’s reproduction rights. It should be a major release film made now due to newsworthiness.

  3. Dear Jim,
    It is indeed a disgrace that these people are being held in indefinite detention well beyond the security needs of the country. I fully support AI's campaign for these prisoners to be charged or released, immediately. It is an outrageous that these people are still being held – many for years – without any hope of release or any idea of the charges against them. The war is over and has been won. These prisoners should be released or charged or alternatively sent to Canada.

  4. Dear Jim,
    It is indeed a disgrace that these people are being held in indefinite detention well beyond the security needs of the country. I fully support AI’s campaign for these prisoners to be charged or released, immediately. It is an outrageous that these people are still being held – many for years – without any hope of release or any idea of the charges against them. The war is over and has been won. These prisoners should be released or charged or alternatively sent to Canada.

  5. 'Lawyers for Democracy' (LfD) is gravely concerned with the breakdown of law and order and the rising cases of abductions in Sri Lanka. On 11th March 2012 media reported of the failed incident of a 'white van' abduction in Kolonnawa/Wellampitiya where the suspects were subsequently handed to the police by the public. LfD has since come to learn that the police have released the suspects at the order of a senior police officer without producing them before a court of law.

    The spate of recent abductions and disappearances is alarming. In January and February 2012 alone eleven cases of abductions have been reported from across Sri Lanka with at least seven of these cases being linked to 'white vans'. These incidents have received attention as a result of the Government of Sri Lanka coming under increased scrutiny recently of their human rights record. According to a report issued in February 2012 by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, 5671 cases of involuntary disappearances remain outstanding in Lanka. The ongoing abductions including the failed attempt in Wellampitiya confirms a culture of impunity with which perpetrators operate, raising questions to the nexus with the Defence authorities. This failed attempt in Wellampitiya further confirms the role of Government security forces in abductions in Sri Lanka. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/A

  6. 'Lawyers for Democracy' (LfD) is gravely concerned with the breakdown of law and order and the rising cases of abductions in Sri Lanka. On 11th March 2012 media reported of the failed incident of a 'white van' abduction in Kolonnawa/Wellampitiya where the suspects were subsequently handed to the police by the public. LfD has since come to learn that the police have released the suspects at the order of a senior police officer without producing them before a court of law.

    The spate of recent abductions and disappearances is alarming. In January and February 2012 alone eleven cases of abductions have been reported from across Sri Lanka with at least seven of these cases being linked to 'white vans'. These incidents have received attention as a result of the Government of Sri Lanka coming under increased scrutiny recently of their human rights record. According to a report issued in February 2012 by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, 5671 cases of involuntary disappearances remain outstanding in Lanka. The ongoing abductions including the failed attempt in Wellampitiya confirms a culture of impunity with which perpetrators operate, raising questions to the nexus with the Defence authorities. This failed attempt in Wellampitiya further confirms the role of Government security forces in abductions in Sri Lanka. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/A

  7. ‘Lawyers for Democracy’ (LfD) is gravely concerned with the breakdown of law and order and the rising cases of abductions in Sri Lanka. On 11th March 2012 media reported of the failed incident of a ‘white van’ abduction in Kolonnawa/Wellampitiya where the suspects were subsequently handed to the police by the public. LfD has since come to learn that the police have released the suspects at the order of a senior police officer without producing them before a court of law.

    The spate of recent abductions and disappearances is alarming. In January and February 2012 alone eleven cases of abductions have been reported from across Sri Lanka with at least seven of these cases being linked to ‘white vans’. These incidents have received attention as a result of the Government of Sri Lanka coming under increased scrutiny recently of their human rights record. According to a report issued in February 2012 by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, 5671 cases of involuntary disappearances remain outstanding in Lanka. The ongoing abductions including the failed attempt in Wellampitiya confirms a culture of impunity with which perpetrators operate, raising questions to the nexus with the Defence authorities. This failed attempt in Wellampitiya further confirms the role of Government security forces in abductions in Sri Lanka.
    http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/AHRC-FPR-010-2012

  8. Who is current President of Sri lanka ?
    He was a human rights lawyer in 80s
    Now he is targeted for human rights violation and war crime.
    all these happened because of war on terror by bush administration took the blind eye on HR violation and war crime on rest of the world.
    Poor Tamils were caught in middle of the pony war on terror act
    Current Defense SEc of sri lanka is a US citizen and how he got away wit hall the crime committed under his and his brother who is current sri lankan president.

  9. These atrocities are evidence of the Sri Lankan government continuing their anti-tamil war policy 3yrs after the war has ended, this means that as long as the international community does not take efficient and urgently needed action, the abductions of journalists, lawyers, tamils or any threat to the government in terms of revealing their whitewash (of the civil war and their atrocities) will continue. I feel disappointed in the UN for repeatedly failing to address the dire situation in Sri Lanka, it seems almost as if the international community are pretending that nothing has happened. They are allowing the cricket to take place in Sri Lanka this year despite the obvious immorality of it's government and going as far as to allow the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to be held there next year. This does not seem fitting in a country dealing with allegations of abduction and torture.

  10. Who is current President of Sri lanka ?
    He was a human rights lawyer in 80s
    Now he is targeted for human rights violation and war crime.
    all these happened because of war on terror by bush administration took the blind eye on HR violation and war crime on rest of the world.
    Poor Tamils were caught in middle of the pony war on terror act
    Current Defense SEc of sri lanka is a US citizen and how he got away wit hall the crime committed under his and his brother who is current sri lankan president.

  11. These atrocities are evidence of the Sri Lankan government continuing their anti-tamil war policy 3yrs after the war has ended, this means that as long as the international community does not take efficient and urgently needed action, the abductions of journalists, lawyers, tamils or any threat to the government in terms of revealing their whitewash (of the civil war and their atrocities) will continue. I feel disappointed in the UN for repeatedly failing to address the dire situation in Sri Lanka, it seems almost as if the international community are pretending that nothing has happened. They are allowing the cricket to take place in Sri Lanka this year despite the obvious immorality of it’s government and going as far as to allow the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to be held there next year. This does not seem fitting in a country dealing with allegations of abduction and torture.