Sri Lankan guards 'sexually abused girls' in Tamil refugee camp
A British medic held for months in an internment camp for Tamil civilians has revealed how military guards dealt out cruel punishments, while many suspected of links to Tiger rebels were taken away and have not been seen since
* Gethin Chamberlain
* The Observer, Sunday 20 December 2009
Tamil women interned after escaping the horrors of the civil war in Sri Lanka were sexually abused by their guards who traded sex for food, a British medic has revealed.
Vany Kumar, who was locked up behind barbed wire in the Menik Farm refugee camp for four months, also claims prisoners were punished by being made to kneel for hours in the hot sun, and those suspected of links to the defeated Tamil Tigers were taken away and not seen again by their families.
Kumar, 25, from Essex, was released from internment in September, but has waited until now to reveal the full scale of her ordeal in the hope of avoiding reprisals against friends and family held with her. They have now been released after the Sri Lankan government bowed to international pressure this month and opened the camps.
The Sri Lankan government confirmed to the Observer that it had received reports from United Nations agencies of physical and sexual abuse within the camps, but maintained that it had not been possible to substantiate the allegations. It denied that prisoners had disappeared. In response, a UN spokesman accused Colombo of "doing everything it could" to obstruct attempts to monitor the welfare of the hundreds of thousands interned in the camps.
Kumar, a biomedical graduate, was incarcerated in May in what she describes as a "concentration camp", along with nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians who managed to escape the slaughter which accompanied the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels, who had been fighting for 25 years for a separate state on the island. Working amid heavy shelling in an improvised field hospital, she had spent months helping save the lives of hundreds of civilians wounded as they were caught between advancing government soldiers and the cornered Tigers.
Sri Lanka has consistently denied mistreating the detainees, but Kumar's damning new evidence will bolster the claims of human rights organisations which have repeatedly criticised the government in Colombo.
More of the same at The Guardian UK
This is what happens when a quarter century civil war finally plays out. The last two years of the contest were particularly brutal; no quarter asked or given. The winners indulge in the worst expressions of triumphalism and the it is the luckless civilians who became the targets of the winner's savagery.