INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA
TAMIL RESISTANCE MET WITH
STATE TERRORISM - 1979
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment" - Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Jayawardene's Mandate for Tamil Genocide
- Satchi Ponnambalam]
"On the 11th of July 1979.. President
Jayawardene appointed his nephew Brigadier Weeratunga, as commander of the security forces
in Jaffna... On the same day, a state of emergency was declared in Jaffna, and a Public
Security Ordinance gave the police and armed forces the power to dispose of dead bodies
without an inquest.
On the night of the 14th of July, six Tamil youths were taken from their homes - three
were never seen again. The mutilated bodies of two others were found the next day, and the
sixth youth died later in Jaffna prison hospital. By this time a Prevention of
Terrorism Act had been brought into operation...
This Act has been roundly condemned by Amnesty International and the International
Commission of Jurists as a gross violation of human rights and an incitement to torture.
The state of emergency which Brigadier Weeratunga supervised for six months in the North
gave Amnesty and the ICJ ample evidence for this assessment.
During this period, the security forces - most of whom did not speak the language of
the people of the North, and had been taught to look upon them as enemies who must be
subjugated at all costs - rounded up and tortured Tamil youths. Houses were entered and
searched, relatives were taken into custody until wanted men surrendered.
Villages were surrounded and the inhabitants flushed out and interrogated. Frequent 'stop
and search' operations were carried on cars and buses. People who had absolutely
nothing to do with any type of political activity, much less 'terrorism', were tortured
with burning cigarettes, with chilli powder and red ants applied to sensitive parts of
their bodies, by being hung upside down by their feet, or suspended by their wrists, by
having pins driven into their toes and fingers, by being deprived of food and sleep, and
by being beaten repeatedly...
By the time the emergency was lifted in December 1979, hundreds of people, mostly young
men, had been through the hands of the security forces. Many were radicalised by this
direct application of state power, and sought for the first time to work for
Eelam..." - Nancy Murray, the State against the Tamils in Sri Lanka - Racism
and the Authoritarian State - Race & Class , Summer 1984
''In the period immediately after the emergency declaration (in July 1979)
of arbitrary arrest and detention existed and torture was used systematically... Six
young men, reported arrested in the days after the emergency declaration, died in the
custody of the police after having been tortured and the bodies of three of them have
still not been found.
When the Emergency was declared, the President had instructed the Commander of the
Security Forces in the Jaffna District to carry out his mandate before 31 December 1979...
In a subsequent letter to the President, Amnesty International... said it had recently
received testimonies which indicated that serious violations of the right of freedom from
torture and from arbitrary arrest, detention and punishment - rights also guaranteed in
the Sri Lankan Constitution - had occurred in the months after the emergency
Various methods of torture have been used by both the police and the army in the period
immediately after the emergency declaration, including suspending people upside down by
the toes whilst placing their head in a bag with suffocating fumes of burning chillies,
prolonged and severe beatings, insertion of pins in the finger tips and the application of
broken chillies and biting ants to sensitive parts of the body and threats of execution.
After these and other methods of torture had been applied, statements were extracted and
recorded'' - Amnesty International Report, 1980