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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Report: Abduction of a Husband and Threats to Silence the Wife

[Mauri Inoka]

Rankothge Mauri Inoka Kumari Jayasena (816311900V) is the wife of Madushka Haris De Silva who was abducted in September 2013 in the district of Anuradhapura. She was born on 10th May 1981. She has three children, son named Tharu born on 20th December 1999 from her first marriage and two twins – Daughter Ranulya Hansali and Son Ranula Hansitha – born on 27th Nov. 2013 from her second marriage with Madushka.

Madushka who was a fruit vender by occupation was abducted near the Bo tree at the Vijayapura road in Anuradhapura, along with two of his friends on 2nd September 2013 around 6.30 p.m. (according to the popular belief, by a ‘white van’- the term has been used to identify abductions by the government). They were tortured throughout the night. According to Madushka’s two abducted friends, abductors had questioned Madushka, while torturing him severely, for taking money from the bus drivers in the town of Anuradhapura. On 3rd of September 2013, around 8.p.m., Madushka’s friends were dropped at two separate places in Anuradhapura- Puttalam main road. Since then his family and friends with the help of different organizations have been searching for Madushka.

Actions to find her husband

A brother of Madushka filed a complaint to the Head Quarters (HQ) Police in Anuradhapura, on 3rd Sept. 2013 (ref. CIB {1} 367/33) (Annex 1). A receipt had been issued, mentioning also the mobile number (0773706899) of the HQ Police Inspector.

On the same day, Madushka’s wife has gone to the same Police station to file a complaint, but the Policeman on duty had refused to take the case saying that a complaint was already filed by Madushka’s brother. She returned home and waited one week thinking that police would do something.

After a week, on 10th September, she went to meet the Deputy Inspector General of Police for Anuradhapura and he had promised her to bring back Madushka. Following day, officers from crime division of Anuradhapura police came to Madushka’s place to collect evidence.

About a week after the incident, a brother of Madushka had made a complaint to the Anuradhapura branch of the National Human Rights Commission. A receipt has been issued (Ref. HRC/AP/468/2013 {s}) but no action has been taken.

Due to that, on 20th Sept. 2013, the wife of Madushka made a complaint to the head office of the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. This was acknowledged by a letter dated 10th October 2013, with reference no. HRC / 3926/13 (Annex 2).

On 14th or 15th October 2013 (not sure of exact date), Mauri and Madushka’s family went to Mirihana police in Colombo district to make a complaint which was refused by the officers. But as a result of pressuring them, although they wrote the complaint, Madushka’s family was not given a receipt.

On that day, they went to a division of Police called “Police Sahana Mediriya” (meaning Police relief centre) to make a complaint and they too refused to take the complaint and told her to go and meet the IGP (Inspector-General of Police) on the coming Friday. They came back to Anuradhapura on that day because they did not have money to find a hotel or a relative’s or a friend’s place to stay.

Since there was no progress in the investigation, she protested in front of Anuradhapura police on 01st October 2013. Next day a police officer named Douglas and another officer have come to her house and told that ‘there are any other suspects and because of pressure from above, they cannot proceed further and told her to try to do something to get at least Madushka’s body and keep on taking action about this’. However they did not write down what Mauri and Madushka’s family members have said.

When President Mahinda Rajapakse had visited Anuradhapura, on 3rd November 2013, Madushka’s wife had handed over a petition to him (Annex 3). Superintendent of Police, Mahesh Senaratne had been presented, and after he had mentioned something to bodyguards of the President, the bodyguards asked her to quickly hand over the petition and through Mahesh Senaratne’s instructions, they told her not to destroy President’s day by crying and making a big drama. The President had told her that he will look into this matter and handed over the letter immediately to an officer.

The President had visited Anuradhapura on several occasions, and when the wife of Madushka had tried to approach him, she was prevented by Police, who had on some occasions told bodyguards not to allow her to meet the President.

In March 2014, she handed over a petition addressed to the President’s wife, through a bodyguard, as again, she was not allowed to directly hand over the letter.

On 24th March 2014, she held a protest in Colombo, opposite the main railway station (Fort railway station) and approximately five police officers from “Police Sahana Mediriya” had met them, and assured them that investigations were continuing. These Police officers had taken a brother of Madushka for further discussions / questioning, which had lasted from 2pm to about 7pm but again a compliant number was not issued to him.

In Hiru TV prime time news bulletin, police spokesperson has stated that they have been investigating this case by deploying two police teams but still has been unable to find a suspect1.

In end of May 2014, Superintendent of Police Mahesh Senarathna has told her via a lawyer, that he knows about what happened to Madhushka until he was taken to Puttalam and that lawyer, who was, according to Mauri, a well known friend of Mr. Senarathna, has also told her “not only your husband is missing. There are plenty of other cases as well”. Then she asked “tell is he dead?” then the lawyer said that “that might be a possibility.”

On 2nd June 2014, Madushka’s wife, together with several family members and some human rights defenders met the Director, Investigations and Inquiries of Human Rights Commission, informing that she (wife) had not had any updates and requesting to expedite the case. The Director informed that the complaint had been transferred to the Anuradhapura branch on 25th October 2013, and that some steps had been taken such as asking for response from the Police and promised to hold an inquiry within couple of weeks.

Threats, Harassments and Intimidations (1st Nov. 2013 to 25th Nov. 2014)

On 02nd November 2013, she heard a sound from behind her house around 11.30 p.m and when she switched on the lights and found a letter in the front door stating ‘Miss we have informed you frequently that this happened from above. Madushka’s body is in Wilpaththu forest (a large forest close to Anuradhapura) right now and go and collect it today’ (annex 4). She informed the police immediately and police denied what that letter says as true.

On a day which she cannot remember exactly in March 2014, someone knocked the window in her room around 11.30 p.m. and said ‘Miss miss there is a letter close to the door, take it.’ That letter (Annex 5) has told her to come to Saliyawewa (A small town close to Anuradhapura) between 12 and 1. And stop at the sign of a blue flag. Also bring cloths for Madushka to wear. They quickly went to Saliyawewa with enormous happiness of seeing Madushka again but were forced to come back with frustration as that information was a fraud.

Around 11.45 p.m. on 14th July 2014, she heard a noise from behind her house and heard ‘you will be shot if you shout. Listen carefully. Do you want you and your children to experience what your husband has suffered? Do you understand? Stop finding your husband. Otherwise you and your children will be killed’. She heard a sound of a vehicle after that. Then she called 119 emergency line. Though the police station is in less than 2 km, the two policemen came to her house after nearly two hours later. They told her to meet the OIC (Officer in Charge) of Anuradhapura Police in the morning. When she went to the police to meet him he was not there and the acting OIC told her to lodge a complaint and advised her to have a CCTV camera in the house.

Around 11.45 p.m on 06th September 2014, she heard a noise of someone walking behind the house and trying to climb to the roof. Later she felt that that guy is leaning to the wall. When she looked at him by moving a curtain slowly, she saw a guy with black clothes (track suit) with face covered. When she phoned Madushka’s two brothers, that person ran away by jumping off the gate and at the same time, she heard a sound of a vehicle. When Madushka’s family members came, they found that the door lock was covered by a shirt of her children. She phoned 119 twice, first to inform this incident and the second is to check why no one has come yet. The 119 operator told her that they have informed the Anuradhapura police and if they are not coming, then they cannot do anything. Then she called 118 to make a complaint but no one answered the phone. However no one has come to her house to investigate this.

Just past mid night on 09th September 2014, she heard a noise of someone walking outside her house. Madushka’s family came to her house after she phoned them. When she opened the door for them, she found a letter threatening “remember this carefully. You decide whether you want to live or die. Madushka will never come. He has paid for his sins. You also like to go to him right? You talk too much. Are you going to shut your mouth or do you want us to do it?” (Annex 6). She phoned 119 and again police officers came after nearly two hours later. When she asked ‘are you coming after I am dead?’ Then they replied, ‘there are only two 119 police officers for the entire Anuradhapura. We came here by spending our money for petrol. Those big people will not sense your issue by doing road protests. Go with media and meet them. Ask in front of media that why they are not conducting a proper investigation. We cannot do anything. What we do is paste this complaint in the complaint book.’ On 13th Sept, she made a complaint about this incident to Anuradhapura Headquarters Police

On 13th October 2014 morning, when she and her children came to her house after spending the night at Madushka’s uncle’s place for security reasons, she found a letter in front of the main door, threatening, ‘this is your last warning. Whether you are going to live or die will be decided on if you are going to the road on 02nd [her monthly protest] and 04th [her court appearance]. If you go to the road on 2nd, you can go to Madushka quickly. The people who are around you are in only for the protests. Are you going to shut up or do you want us to shut your mouth. Stop [these actions] immediately. Don’t even think about going to the road. Otherwise you can be never found’ (Annex 7). Immediately she went to the Anuradhapura police, and lodged a complaint (MCR 4946, CiB ,4> 338/187) (Annex 8). When she met Senior DIG (Deputy Inspector-General), Ravi Wijegunawardena, he told her that this letter was written by a person who does not even know Sinhala and questioned that whether she is asking for personal guards and insisted that they do not have a guard.’

Latest Abduction

She was abducted on 1st November 2014 around 5.30 PM and dropped after one and half hour later at Weliwawa, Nochciyagama (Anuradhapura district). She went to a grocery shop called Gunasekara and the three wheel (local taxi) driver she is used to travel with was not available at that time.

Therefore she crossed the road to take a three wheel to go to grocery shop named SATHOSA. A three wheel driver voluntarily came towards her and offered his service. When she told her the place she wanted to go, the driver went in the opposite direction and put into a narrow road where a police complex is. She thought this act was a misunderstanding the place by the driver because there was another SATHOSA in that rout but it was bit far away. Suddenly a muscular guy jumped into the three wheeler and pointed a gun at her. However the three wheel driver did not resist at all to this guy and the guy did not threaten the driver either. Within couple of minutes, she was transferred to a van.

She was threatened with a pistol aimed at her head and abductors repeated that she has to obey their warnings if she does not want to go the place her disappeared husband went. They took her bag and tied her hands behind. They shouted at her in a filthy language. She felt that there were 4 or 5 guys. The abductors threatened Mauri by saying that ‘’ you talk too much’, ‘take a scissor to cut her hair’. ‘It is up to you to decide whether you want to live or die’, ‘Although you are climbing on to stages we will not allow you to go far away’, ‘Stop looking for your husband’.’
She stated that she was very afraid that what would happen to her twins, if they kill her. She also suspected that those who abducted her looked like from the military. After harassing and threatening for nearly a half an hour, she was forcefully taken out of the vehicle. Then they asked “now you know what is going to happen to you. So decide”.

After struggling some time to make sense of what happened, she found a house nearby. When she went to that house and screamed for help, the householders were hesitant to help her. One guy said don’t worry we have already informed (this statement has made her suspect that these people may also be connected to this abduction). Then 10 minutes later police came. They brought a vehicle (a semi open small lorry like vehicle, known as “Demo”) and asked her to go to the back which is partially opened. She refused initially, but realized that there was no any alternative to obey to their commands, she got into the vehicle with difficulty. Once taken to the Nochchiyagama police she was questioned for several hours and a statement from her was recorded (Annex 9). After that she was sent to Nochchiyagama hospital and then was transferred to Anuradapura teaching hospital (Annex 10). In both police stations, first Nochchiyagama and then Anuradhapura, the way she was interrogated appeared to be to show that she was a sex worker and the whole incident was because of a private relationship of hers2.

On the morning of 5th Nov. 2014, she was summoned to the Anuradhapura Police station at 11am on the same day. But she informed them that she cant go that day, and that she will go on the next day. She went on 6th Nov. 2014 and gave a detailed statement and answered questions by the Police.

Incident after abduction

On 30th Nov., when she came to meet two human rights defenders to discuss certain matters, the relative who was accompanying her saw a suspicious looking person following them on a motorcycle. When they came to the bus stand and got into the bus, the same person was seen standing next to the bus. This was the first time she had left the place of residence after ten days, after transferring from a different safe house (Thudella, Ja-ela). She had not left the residence all these days due to fear.

Actions have taken to protect her
Before the abduction, she left her house in the evening to spend the night at Madushka’s uncle’s house.

However after the abduction, she has not been to her house because of lack of safety and is now staying in different places with her three children.

She has also informed about her situation to several human rights defenders in Sri Lanka. These persons had visited her, and also provided her some safe houses. They had also assisted her to inform the international community about her situation.

She had also stopped travelling alone, and always travel with someone else.

[This is the  complainant on disappearance sent to UN on Threats to woman human rights defender (WHRD) , without the annexes]


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