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Lanka army rapes, tortures Tamils: Rights group report

February 26, 2013 23:07 IST

Sri Lanka on Tuesday dismissed as "fabricated lies", a report by a leading rights group alleging that its military used rape and other forms of sexual violence to torture suspected Tamil rebels since the end of the island's civil war in 2009.

The 141-page report by New York-based Human Rights Watch titled ‘We will teach you a lesson’ has provided details of 75 cases of alleged rape and sexual abuse by Sri Lankan troops during the final military battle with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. It provides detailed accounts of the alleged rape and sexual abuse that occurred from 2006 to 2012 in both official and secret detention centres throughout Sri Lanka.

In the cases documented by Human Rights Watch, men and women reported being raped on multiple days, often by several people, with the army, police, and pro-government paramilitary groups frequently participating.

Responding to the claims, Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya, Sri Lankan military spokesman said the content providers for the report were those who had applied for political asylum in the West.

"These are fabrications to justify their claims for asylum. The army is ready to investigate if there are proper complaints," Wanigasooriya said He said the government has resettled about 3,00,000 displaced people in the conflict while another nearly 12,000 LTTE ex-cadres had been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. "No one has made any complaint of rape", he said.

The report quotes HRW's Brad Adams as saying "The Sri Lankan security forces have committed untold number of rapes of Tamil women and men in custody."

Most of the rape victims spoke to HRW outside Sri Lanka and corroborated their accounts with legal and medical records. "Because Human Rights Watch was unable to openly conduct research in Sri Lanka or interview people still in custody, these cases likely represent only a tiny fraction of custodial rape in political cases," the report said.

Sri Lankan forces had crushed the LTTE in May 2009 after nearly three decades of brutal fighting. The conflict claimed up to 1,00,000 lives, according to UN estimates, and both sides are accused of war crimes.

Sri Lanka has always denied allegations that it targeted civilians during the war and resisted calls for an independent inquiry, establishing its own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission.

Next month, the United States is set to move a second resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, pressing Colombo to probe its military for crimes committed during the last phase of the war.

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