A British medic of Asian origin has alleged that military guards sexually abused Tamil women in refugee camps in Sri Lanka. Besides, many people suspected of links to the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been “removed” and not seen since.
Vany Kumar, 25, a biomedical graduate, from Essex, England, who was locked up in a refugee camp for 4 months along with others who escaped the scourge of the civil war in Sri Lanka, revealed that military guards of the refugee camps not only “traded sex for food with Tamil women” but also made prisoners to kneel for several hours in the sun.
She disclosed that those prisoners who dared to complain about being ill-treated were “singled out by the guards” for very cruel punishment.
Though she was released from confinement in September 2009, Vany Kumar waited till now to “reveal the full scale of her ordeal” for fear of reprisals against friends and family kept prisoners along with her, the British newspaper Observer has reported.
Her friends and family members have since been freed from the camps, after the government of Sri Lankan opened the camps and let go the Tamil refugees in December 2009, following international pressure.
Vany was quoted as saying that the refugee camps were indeed “concentration camps” where people were not even allowed to speak to each other.
Military officers would touch girls who came to meet their relatives in the camp, and the girls usually kept quite since they knew that if they talked, “anything could happen to them” Vany Kumar recounted. “It was very open; everyone could see the military officers touching the girls,” she added.
The disclosures by Vany Kumar support claims made by human rights organizations that Tamil women were being sexually abused by military guards in Sri Lanka’s refugee camps.
Vany Kumar said she was locked up behind barbed wire in the Menik Farm refugee camp for 4 months.
The Observer reported that the government of Sri Lankan has confirmed to the newspaper that it had indeed received reports from agencies of the United Nations alleging physical as well as sexual abuse in the refugee camps.
However, the Observer added, the government of Sri Lankan has taken the stand that it “could not substantiate” the allegations of harassment and also denied reports that prisoners suspected of links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had disappeared.
Reacting to this stand of the Sri Lanka government, a spokesman of the United Nations charged Colombo with “doing everything it could” to block all attempts by the UN to monitor the welfare of the hundreds of thousands of Tamils interned in the refugee camps.
Vany Kumar said she was locked up by the Sri Lankan soldiers in May 2009, along with about 300,000 Tamil civilians who had survived the massacre that followed the total defeat of the rebel Tamil Tigers.
The LTTE has been fighting for 25 years for a separate state for Tamils within the island nation of Sri Lanka, before it was vanquished by the Sri Lankan military.
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