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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Sri Lanka faces yet another rights abuse allegation

 R. K. Radhakrishnan
Two senior members of a breakaway faction of the JVP who vanished on April 6 and reappeared a few days later have accused the security forces of abducting them.

One of them, Dimuthu Attygalle, held a press conference to announce that she was abducted by the security forces, while the other, Premkumar Gunaratnam, who was deported to Australia, made the claim after he landed in that country.

Premkumar, who has killed Indian soldiers of the IPKF, and Ms. Attygalle, vanished a few days before the inauguration of the Frontline Socialist Party, which both were deeply involved in building. Premkumar was mysteriously released and, since he had an Australian citizenship and was overstaying his visa, the police immediately picked him up, questioned and then deported him. Ms. Attygalle was dropped off at a different location and she got in touch with her party organisers and spoke up.

At the press conference, Ms. Attygalle said her abductors told her that the government was not involved but used terminology that cannot be forgotten by security personnel — for instance, they were referring to someone as “sir”, she said.

Once he reached Australia, Premkumar said were it not for Canberra’s intervention he would have faced certain death. “He said that he was handcuffed, blindfolded and physically and sexually tortured during his three-day detention,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported. : “I can confirm I was abducted by the Sri Lankan government forces, blindfolded and tortured. This includes, I am embarrassed to say, sexual torture,” the paper quoted Mr. Gunaratnam as saying.

“He says about 15 government security personnel stormed into his house in Colombo around 4:30 am on Friday,” ABC.Net reported. “The 42-year-old, who holds dual citizenship in Australia and Sri Lanka, claims he was held for about four days and moved around to different army bases around the capital,” the website added.

The Sri Lankan government has denied any role in the kidnapping.

Both the media, however, refused to question the role of the Australian government in the episode. Australia has refused to answer questions relating to Premkumar’s name changes, his travel under an assumed passport, his entereing Australia in the first instance and, according to Sri Lanka’s Island newspaper, how the Australian High Commission in Colombo had his original passport when Premkumar had claimed that he had lost it.

“A chance saving of two lives due to decisive intervention on the part of the Australian government should be an eye opener to everyone both in and outside the country about what Sri Lanka has become; a place where democratic conversation is outlawed,” said the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission. “The purpose of abductions is to intimidate, not only the victims but also society as a whole,” it added.

The Hindu


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