More than 50 men from the Tamil ethnic minority have accused the Sri Lankan government forces of abducting and torturing them, AP reported on Thursday. The men, some of whom said they were raped, have sought political asylum in Europe.
The news agency said it studied 32 medical and psychological evaluations and interviewed 20 men.
Although the civil war between the Sri Lankan government and Tamils demanding a separate state for themselves ended eight years ago, the alleged torture and abuse occurred from early 2016 to as recently as July 2017. The men were accused of trying to revive the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which fought the Sri Lankan government in the war that lasted 26 years. Sri Lanka was accused of failing to investigate allegations of its officials committing war crimes during the war.
Many of the men abused were branded with tiger-like stripes – the LTTE wore camouflages with tiger stripes – on their backs, AP reported. Army officials, however, told the news agency that the rebel group was no longer considered a threat to the nation.
The government has issued a statement stating that it “strongly condemns” any act of torture and vowed to start an investigation into the allegations, the Colombo Gazette reported. Sri Lanka seeks the “assistance and cooperation of all those relevant parties”, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka Prasad Kariyawasam said.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who had advocated accountability for the alleged war crimes, described the reports as horrifying. “While the UN is unable to confirm this until we mount an investigation, clearly the reports are horrifying and merit a much closer inspection from our part, especially if they occurred in 2016 and 2017,” said Zeid.