The phenomenon of enforced disappearances that has haunted Sri Lanka since the 1980s has now returned. With the resumption of major military operations between government forces and the LTTE, a new wave of enforced disappearances and abductions engulfed the country in 2006-2007. With the end of the ceasefire, it is likely to accelerate.
While the exact number of disappearances perpetrated over the last two years remains unknown, data from local organizations and the UN Working Group, as well as information collected by Human Rights Watch, suggests that the problem has reached crisis proportions.
In 2006 the UN Working Group transmitted more cases of disappearances as urgent appeals to the Sri Lankan government than to any other country in the world. At the conclusion of its session in March 2007, the UN Working Group again expressed deep concern that the majority of new urgent action cases are regarding alleged disappearances in Sri Lanka.86
Judging by various figures on disappearances released by government and nongovernmental sources, more than 1,500 people have been reported missing from December 2005 through December 2007, and the majority of them are still unaccounted for.
On June 28, 2007, the chairman of the Presidential Commission on abductions, disappearances, and killings, Judge Tillekeratne, told the media that 2,020 abductions and disappearances were reported to his commission between September 14, 2006, and February 25, 2007 (1,713 cases of disappearances and 307 abductions). According to Tillekeratne, 1,134 persons were later found alive and reunited with their famlies, but the fate of the rest remains unknown.87
Although Judge Tillekeratne presented the figures as proof that the majority of the disappeared had returned to their homes, it shows in fact that at least 886 people disappeared without a trace in less than 12 months.
The national Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka does not publicize its data on cases submitted to its review. According to credible sources interviewed by Human Rights Watch, as well as press reports, the commission recorded about 1,000 cases in 2006 and over 300 cases in the first four months of 2007.88 The commission refused to provide any data in response to Human Rights Watchs letter of inquiry.89
On October 31, 2007, a credible Sri Lankan NGO, the Law and Society Trust, in collaboration with four local partners, including the Civil Monitoring Commission90 and the Free Media Movement, submitted the details of 540 alleged disappearances perpetrated between January and August 2007 to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI).91
While disappearances have occurred all over the country, certain regions have been particularly affected.
The majority of cases are reported from the Jaffna peninsulaaccording to HRC figures published in the media, at least 835 persons were disappeared or abducted there between December 2005 and May 2007.92 A respected Sri Lankan group, University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), reported in December 2007 that out of 948 individuals reported missing in Jaffna from December 2005 to October 2007, 684 remain unaccounted for.93
Since late 2006, disappearances and abductions have also become a widespread practice in Colombo, as well as in the districts of Mannar, Batticaloa, Ampara, and Vavuniya. Out of 540 cases submitted to the CoI by the Law and Society Trust, 271 were from Jaffna, 78 from Colombo, 40 from Mannar, 39 from Batticaloa, 15 from Ampara, and 14 from Vavuniya.94
Since its formation in November 2006, the Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC) has recorded details of dozens of cases of disappearances and abductions in Colombo, at the same time acknowledging that this reflects only a fraction of the total.95
Human Rights Watchs research in Sri Lanka in February, March, and June 2007, examined in detail 99 cases out of the hundreds of people believed to have been disappeared or abducted in 2006 and 2007. These include cases from Colombo, Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar, Tricomalee, and Batticaloa.
While the government claims that the number of disappearances and abductions has dropped dramatically since June 2007, available evidence shows a high number of new disappearances.
In August 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated it had received reports on 34 abductions in three weeks,96 and the HRC recorded 21 disappearances in Jaffna alone.97 Weekly reports published by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) suggest that in September and October 2007 abductions in the east continued almost on a daily basis, and, for example, in the week of December 3 December 9, 2007, 22 abductions were reported to the SLMM in the east.98 The Law and Society Trust report also shows that the number of reported disappearances, which had been gradually decreasing in April-July 2007, rose sharply again in August.99
Disappearances by their nature are abuses perpetrated with the very intention of evading responsibility. In conflicts throughout the world the perpetrators often try to conceal their identity and ensure that there are no direct witnesses. This makes establishing accountability challenging and allows the parties to a conflict to blame the abuses on each other. Sri Lanka is no exception in this respect.
The Sri Lankan government routinely denies the responsibility of its security forces for disappearances and dismisses the allegations of eyewitnesses as unreliable because they cannot point indubitably to the identity of the perpetrators. In a number of cases documented by Human Rights Watch and others, eyewitnesses were unable to clearly identify the perpetrators, describing them as a group of armed men arriving in a white van, on motorcycles, or on foot.100
However, in the majority of cases documented, there is sufficient evidence to suggest the involvement or complicity of the Sri Lankan security forcesarmy, navy, or policein the disappearances.
Witnesses in some cases also pointed to members of pro-government non-state armed groups, acting either in conjunction with the security forces or independently, as the perpetrators. These are Tamil groups that are in conflict with the LTTEand whose members have frequently been targets of LTTE attackspecifically the Karuna group in the east and Colombo, and the EPDP in the northern Jaffna peninsula.
In its first submission to the CoI in August 2007, the Law and Society Trust noted that out of the 396 cases of alleged disappearances, 352 were perpetrated by government agents, and in 44 cases the perpetrators were unknown.101
Undoubtedly, the LTTE is also responsible for disappearances and abductions. The numbers are comparatively low, however, in part because disappearance is not a prime tactic of the LTTE and in part because cases may be underreported due to the fear instilled in victims families and eyewitnesses.
In the absence of a significant external defense mission throughout Sri Lankas modern history, the armed forces have primarily focused on internal security and counter-insurgency warfare.
During the countrys internal conflicts, the government has frequently applied laws conferring additional powers on the armed forces. Since 2001, successive Sri Lankan presidents have invoked the powers under section 12 of the Public Security Ordinance (PSO), allowing them to heavily rely on the armed forces when public security is endangered and the President is of the opinion that the police are inadequate to maintain public order.102
The powers granted to the military under the PSO are limited to standard search and arrest procedures; dispersal of unlawful assemblies; seizure and removal of offensive weapons and substances from unauthorized persons in public places; seizure and removal of guns and explosives (when written authority is granted by the president or an authorized person). Section 12 also specifically prohibits the armed forces from exercising powers under Chapter XI of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, such as investigating crimes and bringing suspects before magistrates.
The 2005 Emergency Regulations, however, go far beyond the PSO; Regulation 52 confers broad policing powers onto officers of the armed forces, when so authorized by the respective commander.103 Under Regulation 68, members of the armed forces, when authorized by the respective commander, can question any person in custody, and hold him in the custody of the authorized member of the armed forces for a period not exceeding seven days at a time for the purpose of questioning, or for any matter connected to such questioning.104
Commenting on the regulations granting broad policing powers to the armed forces, a prominent Sri Lankan lawyer noted that this is an exercise fraught with danger as the military forces lack the proper training, experience and investigative skills to engage in such an exercise, and considering the nature of the training they undergo and the experiences of the battlefield, their psychological make-up may not be conducive to the conducting of an effective investigation within the confines of the law.105
The involvement of the army and navy in disappearances is particularly evident in the Jaffna peninsula. 106 Historically, much of the heaviest fighting between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan armed forces has occurred on the peninsula, evident in the war-torn appearance of its major town, Jaffna. The peninsula is dotted with a number of Sri Lankan military basesland, naval, and airwhose presence often is a factor in disappearance cases. In 21 out of 37 cases of disappearances documented by Human Rights Watch in Jaffna, evidence strongly suggests that the perpetrators were members of the armed forces. In some cases, individuals disappeared after being detained during large-scale cordon-and-search operations. In such cases, family members knew exactly to which military camps their relatives were taken, and sometimes even wrote down the license plate numbers of the military vehicles that took them away.
For example, in one of the cases documented by Human Rights Watch, two women witnessed the arrests of their husbands on December 8, 2006, after the men came to retrieve their IDs seized during cordon-and-search operations by the military in Navindil. The women managed to write down the license plate numbers of the vehicles that took their husbands away (40041-14 and 40032-14) and later saw the vehicles at the Point Pedro military camp where they went looking for their husbands. Despite these details, the military denied ever arresting the men and at the time of writing their fate remains unknown.107
In other cases, the families suspicion of the military involvement in disappearances was reinforced by subsequent inquiries in army camps. For example, after 26-year-old Thavaruban Kanapathipillai and 30-year-old Shangar Santhivarseharam went missing on August 16, 2006, on the way to Kachai in eastern Jaffna district, their families made inquiries with the Kodikamam military camp located near their place of residence. While the military denied having detained the men, the relatives saw Kanapathipillais bicyclethat the two men rode on the day of their disappearanceparked near the camp, in the area controlled by the military. The camp commander eventually returned the bicycle to the relatives, yet denied having any knowledge of the mens fate.108
In a number of cases in Jaffna, victims of disappearances were taken away by large groups of armed men from houses located in the immediate proximity of military checkpoints, sentry posts, or other military positions. While the witnesses could not positively identify the perpetrators, they had a well-grounded suspicion that the military was either directly involved or was complicit in such disappearances. These incidents usually occurred during curfew hours in areas of government control, and, according to witnesses, it is inconceivable that large groups of armed men could move around freely and pass through checkpoints without endorsement from the military.
The blurring of the mandates of the military and police forces through extraordinary laws also has a corrosive effect on Sri Lankan police forces.109
The militarization of the Sri Lankan police dates back to the 1970s, when insurgents targeted many police stations, and the government realized the need to train and equip the police for duties over and above normal police functions.110 In 1983 the government formed a Special Task Force (STF) within the police as a paramilitary unit specializing in counterterrorist and counterinsurgency operations.111
Heavily involved in the fighting against the LTTE, the Special Task Force over the years became notorious for its human rights violations, including disappearances and extrajudicial killings. The Sri Lankan Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary Removal or Disappearance of Persons in the Northern and Eastern Provinces concluded in 1997 that the STF was the arresting agency in 5 percent of 1,219 reported cases of disappearances in the Batticaloa district in North Eastern province between 1988 and 1996.112 The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions also reported that individuals allegedly died while in the custody of the Special Task Force of Sri Lanka in Colombo.113 Despite well-documented allegations of abuse, STF members have managed to avoid accountability for their actions and continue to function with impunity.114
In addition to the STF, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is responsible for routine police operations, is also implicated in abuses, including the spree of abductions and disappearances in Colombo in 2006-2007. In a number of cases documented by Human Rights Watch, eyewitnesses said that their relatives had been taken away by uniformed policemen who introduced themselves as representatives of the CID, and even produced relevant IDs. In some cases, they told the families that their relatives were needed for questioning, yet failed to inform them where they were being taken or to produce an arrest receipt as required by law. When the families later tried to inquire with the police, police denied any knowledge of the persons whereabouts.
In an illustrative case, on February 1, 2007, four men who identified themselves as police, two of them in uniform, came to the house of 22-year-old Suresh Palanisamy in Colombo 13 (sections of the capital are identified by number). The police said they needed Palanisamy at the Eheliyagoda police station in relation to a complaint and took him away. Palanisamys father, informed by his daughter-in-law, immediately rushed to the police station, but the police denied ever bringing Palanisamy there. The family went to other police stations and filed a complaint with the HRC, but, at this writing, has received no further information about Palanisamys fate or whereabouts.115
Police involvement in abductions was also confirmed in an unexpected admission made by police inspector general Victor Perera in March 2007. Perera announced that police had arrested a large number of police officers, as well as members of armed forces, on charges of abduction and extortion, although he never provided any details.116 Attempts by Human Rights Watch to learn more from the police regarding this assertion have proved fruitless. In response to Human Rights Watchs inquiry, national police responded on January 2, 2008, that since 2004 a total number of 31 Police officers have been arrested for violations of Human Rights.117 His letter did not specify how many of these officers have been arrested since the resumption of hostilities in 2006; what were the specific charges against the officers; and the current status of their cases.
Human Rights Watch obtained significant evidence of the involvement of pro-government Tamil armed groups in enforced disappearances, acting either on their own or alongside the Sri Lankan security forces. Implicated were the Karuna group, operating mostly in the east and in Colombo, and the EPDP in the Jaffna peninsula in the north.
Both groups closely cooperate with Sri Lankan security forces. The Sri Lankan security forces are primarily Sinhalese and as a result have few native Tamil speakers. Both the military and police use EPDP and Karuna cadreswho are native Tamil speakersto identify and often apprehend suspected LTTE members or supporters.
In a number of cases documented by Human Rights Watch, witnesses described the perpetrators as a joint group of Tamil and Sinhala speakers, or mentioned the presence of at least one native Tamil speaker whom the soldiers used to identify the individuals apprehended. When not identified, these may have been local residents acting independently as government informants. In several cases, families also said that they were first visited and questioned by the military, and then, usually several hours later, a group of Tamil-speaking armed men came to their house and took their relatives away.
On other occasions, the Karuna group or EPDP seemed to be acting on their ownseeking to settle scores with the LTTE or abducting persons for ransomwith security forces turning a blind eye to their activities.
Reports by local media and human rights groups describe the two groups involvement in disappearances and killings, and their close cooperation with the security forces. A November 2006 report by the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) detailed a number of murder cases perpetrated by hybrid killer groups that were made up of elements from intelligence divisions of the various arms of the security forces (especially Army and Navy) together with Tamils who serve the security forces in their individual capacity or from groups such as the EPDP and Karuna faction.118 In a comprehensive Overview of the Enforced Disappearances Phenomenon, journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj noted that the actual abductions are generally done by the Karuna or EPDP group, while some top security guy is usually at hand to help out if something goes wrong.119
Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan (a.k.a. Colonel Karuna) was the senior LTTE military commander for the eastern districts until he split from the LTTE with his forces in March 2004. The LTTE largely destroyed his group in fighting in April 2004, but he continued to control several hundred armed supporters opposed to the LTTE until he lost a power struggle to commander Pillaiyan and his leadership position in the group by September 2007.120 Through cooperation with Sri Lankan security forces the Karuna group has exerted de facto authority over parts of the eastern districts of Ampara, Trincomalee, and Batticaloa, and extended its operations in the northern Vavuniya district.
Previous reports by Human Rights Watch have extensively documented the groups involvement in human rights abuses, particularly large-scale recruitment of child soldiers and the governments complicity in these violations.121 Despite international criticism and the governments repeated pledges to investigate and address the violations, in late 2006 and 2007 Karuna cadres were still responsible for continued forced child recruitment and abductions and murders of suspected LTTE supporters.
In the east, Karuna cadres were operating in close tandem with the security forcesprimarily the army, navy, and STF. Examples of such cooperation are cited in previous reports by Human Rights Watch and by Sri Lankan human rights groups. For example, the August 2007 report of the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) described a spree of abductions in Thiriyai, a village about 25 miles north of Trincomalee, in October 2006, after a checkpoint jointly manned by the navy and the Karuna group was set up there.122
In Colombo and other districts the Karuna group also engaged in kidnappings of wealthy Tamil businessmen, what journalists dubbed an industry of raising money through kidnappings for ransom.123 The International Crisis Group noted that the governments reliance on paramilitaries to fight the governments war, while refusing to pay them for it, has blurred the lines between political and criminal violence. What may have started out as an attempt to establish an extra layer of militant taxation or undermine LTTE taxation networks, has descended into increasing lawlessness and insecurity for all minority businessmen.124
An October 2007 media article on the situation in the east suggested that the Karuna group has taken effective control of wide swaths of the east, employing many of the same rackets they ran when they were Tigers, but now with the tacit support of a government. The article cited a Muslim community leader saying, Earlier they operated from jungles with fear. Now they are in the open with government license.125
Human Rights Watch interviewed several persons who had been released after paying a ransom or who had to flee after receiving threats allegedly from the Karuna group, as well as relatives of people who disappeared after being taken away.
For example, after men in a white van abducted 29-year-old Sakthivadivel Rajkumar on October 23, 2006, in Vavyniya, his family received a phone call from the kidnappers. A person who said he was from the Karuna group requested a ransom for Rajkumars release. After the family deposited the money into the specified banking account, the caller, who introduced himself as Robert, informed the family that Rajkumar had been injured during torture, and that he would be released upon recovery. Yet at the time of this writing, he still had not returned home.126
Rajkumars relatives also told Human Rights Watch that the caller threatened them not to report the abduction to any authorities.127
Most of the family members of victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they feared reporting the abductions to the authorities, referring to the Karuna groups close affiliation with the security forces. A lawyer from Vavuniya, who had to flee the town with his wife after the Karuna group started demanding money from them, said, We are afraid to go to the police. The police are attached to this. If we file a case in court the Karuna group will throw a grenade at my house.128
A Colombo businessman who was released after paying a ransom said that his kidnappers, who spoke Tamil with a particular Batticaloa accent (where most Karuna group members originate), moved easily through checkpoints as they were taking him away. According to the man, the kidnappers warned him not to report the abduction to anyone. They said, Do not convey this information to anyone: the media, the police, or human rights groups, the man told Human Rights Watch. We have connections at each organization, so we will not allow you to live.129
While the witnesses were able to provide specific detailsincluding names, cell phone numbers, and bank accounts numbersthat could allow the identification of the perpetrators, the government continues to turn a blind eye to crimes allegedly perpetrated by the Karuna group, and to deny the complicity of its security forces. In its July 2007 response to Human Rights Watchs letter of inquiry, the government provided no information on the status of the governments highly publicized investigation into abductions by the Karuna group, stating that it has no complicity with the Karuna group in any allegations of child recruitment or abduction.130
In response to a follow-up inquiry sent by Human Rights Watch in November 2008, the national police reiterated government denials of state complicity in the abductions perpetrated by the Karuna group and added that no complaints have been received by the Sri Lankan Police implicating Karuna group in abduction of boys.131 At the same time, a note from the National Police Commission attached to the deputy inspector generals response, mentions the Karuna group (along with the army, unidentified men, and paramilitary elements) as one of the alleged perpetrators of several cases of abductions and disappearances reported to the commission.132
In the Jaffna peninsula, the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) has been in active alliance with the military against the LTTE. This is in part a reaction to the LTTEs intensification of killings of EPDP members and supporters following the EPDPs disarmament under the ceasefire agreement in 2002. Accounts obtained by Human Rights Watch as well as reports by local human rights groups point to the involvement of EPDP cadres in a number of abuses, including enforced disappearances.
The EPDP has a long history in northern Sri Lanka. It was formed in 1987, with most of its leadership and members previously involved in the Tamil armed struggle in the north and east.133 After the party entered into mainstream politics, it officially renounced violence, yet until the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement continued to maintain a military wing.134
Over the past decade, the EPDP has been a political option, alongside several other small parties, for citizens who wish to vote for a Tamil political party other than the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance. Its leaders have been elected repeatedly to the parliament and have held cabinet posts.135 The party maintains a significant presence in Jaffna district.136
In the early years of the Sri Lankan Tamil armed struggle for independence, the EPDP fought alongside other Tamil groups, including the LTTE. After the LTTE began to systematically eliminate or absorb the other Tamil groups, the EPDP became one of the LTTEs most determined rivals.137 The government actively allied with the EPDP and other Tamil groups opposed to the LTTE, and armed them.138
The EPDP criticized the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement, in which only the government and the LTTE were allowed to participate, and specifically the provision that required Tamil paramilitary groupsbut not the LTTEto disarm, because it placed them at risk of LTTE attack.139 According to knowledgeable sources, the party leadership in large measure cooperated in the process of disarmament, as the EPDP claimed, and was compelled to rely on the police and military to guard party offices. However, individual members did continue to maintain weapons.140
While the LTTE had long targeted EPDP leadership and members, its attacks on the EPDP intensified after the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement, as the LTTE expanded and strengthened its presence and influence on the Jaffna peninsula. The LTTE not only sharply curtailed EPDP political activities in Jaffna,141 but also committed numerous killings of the partys members and supporters. The EPDP website contains a list of 48 party activists killed and abducted since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in February 2002.142 While this information is hard to verify, Human Rights Watch and others have reported on LTTE attacks on members of EPDP members and other Tamil political parties during the ceasefire.143
The situation changed in 2006, as Sri Lankan government forces reestablished their presence in Jaffna town and some other parts of the peninsula. The EPDP then began to support the government in its anti-LTTE operations, as well as to initiate its own attacks against suspected LTTE cadres, supporters, and former EPDP loyalists who switched their allegiance to the LTTE.
While the EPDP has denied having armed cadres and conducting security operations, several independent observers have concluded otherwise. For example, after a mission to Sri Lanka in late 2005, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, mentioned in his report the continuing operation of armed EPDP cadres in the islands off the Jaffna peninsula.144 Amnesty International stated that it had received credible reports of the involvement of EPDP armed cadres alongside Sri Lanka navy personnel in the killings of 18 civilians on northern Kayts Island on May 13-14, 2006. Local groups and media also believed that EPDP cadres alongside the Sri Lankan navy were responsible for the killings.145
Reports by credible local human rights groups referred to specific incidents of attacks by armed EPDP cadresfor example, a May 2006 attack on the office of the pro-LTTE newspaper, Uthayan, which left two staff members dead and three injured.146
In at least two disappearance cases documented by Human Rights Watch in Jaffna, the families strongly believed that the perpetrators were members of the EPDPbased on their accents, appearance, and vehicles leaving in the direction of EPDP camps.
The family of 25-year-old Thiyagarajah Saran said that on February 20, 2007, a group of men they believed to be from the military and the EPDP took him away from his residence in East Puttur, a village 13 kilometers from Jaffna town. The relatives said that some of the perpetrators spoke Sinhala, and some were native Tamil speakers. They all wore military pants and T-shirts and were armed with AK-47 assault rifles and pistols. As the perpetrators were leaving the house, the family said, part of the group left in the direction of the Puttur army camp, while others moved in the direction of the Achchuveli EPDP camp.147
A number of other witnesses also referred to EPDP camps in Jaffna as places where they went to search for their missing relatives. At a meeting with Human Rights Watch in April 2007, EPDP leader Douglas Devananda said that the EPDP does not have any camps, just offices, one of which is indeed located in Achchuveli.148
The EPDP leadership is undoubtedly aware of the allegations against its cadres. A number of witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they approached EPDP offices while searching for their disappeared relatives and tried to inquire within EPDP camps. A relative of Sivasothy Sivaramanan, a man who disappeared after he had been taken away by a group of armed men, some of whom spoke Sinhala and some spoke Tamil, said that he met with Douglas Devananda three times. Each time, the EPDP leader promised to find his son, yet the young man remains missing to date.149
In August 2007, in Jaffna, Devananda met with the families of the disappeared who, according to the EPDP website, expressed their tales of woes and broke down out of grief in front of the Minister. Devananda reportedly told the families that such matters cannot be settled at an instance and asked for time, and then communicated with President Mahinda Rajapaksa about his meeting with the families.150
In a meeting with Human Rights Watch, Devananda dismissed allegations of the EPDPs involvement in abductions and blamed them exclusively on the army and the LTTE. He noted, however, that he has only 98 percent control over his peoplesuggesting, apparently, that the 2 percent he says he does not have control of, may be responsible for violations outside of his knowledge.151
In response to Human Rights Watchs letter of inquiry, the EPDP insisted that its members never participate in joint operations with the army or police, do not collaborate with any agencies in arresting or detaining any person, and do not bear arms.152 The party also said that whenever their representatives receive complaints regarding abductions or disappearances from the families, they approach relevant authorities in order to establish the whereabouts of the missing individuals and to ensure their release. In the letter, the EPDP mentioned that during a visit to Jaffna in August 2007, the party representatives managed to trace three missing personshowever, the letter did not provide any details and did not specify whether the party has any information on the identity of the perpetrators in these or other cases reported to its offices.153
Both during the ceasefire and since the resumption of hostilities, the LTTE has continued to be responsible for massive human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. The group has carried out landmine attacks targeting civilians, murdered Tamils deemed political opponents or suspected of cooperating with government forces, prevented civilians from fleeing areas of active fighting, interfered with the delivery of humanitarian aid, and forcibly recruited people, including many children, into its ranks. In the areas under its control in Sri Lankas north and east, the LTTE represses the rights to free expression, association, assembly, and movement.
Human Rights Watch has long documented abuses by the LTTE, particularly the systematic recruitment and use of child soldiers, the targeted killings of political opponents, and abusive fundraising tactics abroad.154
Despite claims of the Sri Lankan government to the contrary, disappearances do not appear to be a tactic widely used by the LTTE. In order to achieve the maximum deterrent effect on the population in areas under its control, the LTTE much more commonly publicly executes its victims, or publicly displays the bodies following executions.155
At the same time, the LTTE is clearly responsible for abductions for the purposes of forced recruitment. Media reports suggest that since June 2006, the LTTE intensified its conscription efforts, recruiting as many as 10,000 people in eight months. Although the recruitment efforts are broadly unpopular in LTTE controlled areas, it is difficult to know how many of these individuals, ages 17 to 35, were taken against their will. However, in some cases where people tried to go into hiding to avoid recruitment, the LTTE took other family members, often children, to pressure them into joining the ranks.156
Most of the abductions for recruitment took place in Kilinochchi and Mullaitheevu districtsterritories controlled by the LTTEalthough the LTTE has also reached Mannar, Vavuniya, and certain areas in Jaffna. According to media reports, LTTE cadres who possess detailed information about households in the territories under their control start by pressuring men and women to join. However, according to one informed journalist, if unsuccessful at daytime the Tigers return at night to take the recalcitrant recruits away by force.157
In February 2007, a Sri Lankan Tamil residing in Canada made a rare public appeal for international assistance to release his niece abducted by the LTTE in Kilinochchi. The man stated that on February 9, 2007, LTTE cadres came looking for his 23-year-old niece, Thenuga, in order to recruit her for military training. The young woman, however, had gone into hiding before they arrived. After they realized that Thenuga was missing, the LTTE men demanded that her older sister, 27-year-old Pathmaseeli Kanagarajah, join them. When the woman refused, they dragged her out of the house, kicking the relatives who tried to prevent the abduction aside, and took her away.158
In a case documented by Human Rights Watch, the families believed that their relatives had been taken away by the LTTE. Three young men21-year-old Padmanathan Rajendran, his 18-year-old brother Sureshkumar Rajendran, and 21-year-old Nishanthan Tharmakulasingamwent missing on September 28, 2006, in Irupalai, Jaffna district after going to a sports field. While there were no eyewitnesses to the alleged abduction, the families said that they suspect the LTTE as no army or other security forces were present in the area, while the LTTE was known to have a strong presence there. Had the sons voluntarily joined the LTTE, that message would likely have been conveyed to their families.
The abduction might have been retaliatory, because, according to the families, the Rajendran brothers used to be friends with the military, spoke good Sinhala, and used to tell people in the village that they would be able to help them out should they have any problems with the military. The families said that other villagers also believed the three men were abducted by the LTTE because of presumed connections to the military, yet everybody was too scared to share any specific information with the families.159
Human Rights Watch believes that the actual number of disappearances and abductions perpetrated by the LTTE may be significantly underreported as many relatives may choose not to relate such cases to the authorities or human rights groups, fearing retaliation or considering such efforts to be of no avail.
However, repeated statements by the Sri Lankan government blaming the upsurge in new disappearances exclusively on the LTTE and criminal gangs are not credible or convincing. In hundreds of well-documented cases, eyewitness accounts compellingly point to the responsibility of the Sri Lankan army, navy, or police, or pro-government armed groups. In other cases circumstantial evidence suggests military involvementthe victims were taken away by large groups of men during curfew hours, often in the immediate proximity of government checkpoints or other military installations. It would be hard for the government to explain how in such instances the LTTE could have been the perpetrator.
The vast majority of victims of the disappearances and abductions have been young Tamil men, although some Sinhalese and Muslims have also been targeted. Statistics presented by the Civil Monitoring Commission, Free Media Movement, and Law and Society Trust suggest that of the cases where the ethnicity of the victim was known (85.3 percent of all documented cases), approximately 80 percent of the disappearance victims were Tamils, 1.8 percent were Sinhalese, and 3.5 percent Muslims.160 Men represented 98 percent of all missing persons.161 Most but not all of the reported disappeared were youngaccording to Law and Society Trust, 60 percent of the victims were 30 years old or younger.162
Some of the victims, especially in Jaffna, were clearly targeted because of their alleged affiliation with or support for the LTTE. The cases documented by Human Rights Watch indicate that this affiliation seems to be vaguely defined and could include anything from receiving training in the LTTE camps years earlier (something that many Tamils were forced to do in the territories within the LTTEs reach), to running a small shop where LTTE cadres might have entered as customers.
For example, the relatives of 28-year-old Sivasooriyakumar Tharmaratnambelieved that his disappearance on November 17, 2006, might have been linked to the opening of a small shop shortly before then. The shop, which sold car parts, was located inside the militarys high security zone. The family thought that since Tharmaratnamused to spend a lot of time outside of the shop, the army might have suspected him of being an LTTE spy observing the military positions.163
A father of another disappeared man told Human Rights Watch that he believed the army abducted his son because the army might have suspected that he had close connections to the LTTE. The family used to run a tea shop in Urumpirai, north of Jaffna town, which served lunch to local people, of whom any could have been LTTE members. According to the father, when he went to inquire about his sons fate at a nearby checkpoint, the soldiers there told him casually, Oh, thats because you were feeding the LTTE.164
Security forces reportedly identify many of their targets by examining video and photographic materials from the ceasefire period, when many people openly participated in LTTE-organized demonstrations and parades in the north.165 In the north and east, a significant number of victims of abductions and disappearances are students. Since the LTTE recruits children for its forces in various capacities,166 security forces are particularly likely to target students as suspected LTTE supporters.
One Sri Lankan NGO provided Human Rights Watch with a detailed report on student abductions in the north and east, listing dozens of alleged cases that occurred from December 2005 to May 2007. The report includes copies and English translations of death threat flyers that unknown persons distributed at the University of Jaffna, a site under the control of the security forces.
The true source of the flyers is unknown but they contribute to an atmosphere of fear at the university. One of the flyers states that 323 students and university staff from different faculties were acting closely with Tiger terrorists and received arms training from the LTTE. The flyer adds that they have identified these students and employees as punishable criminals and were awaiting proper opportunity to punish all of them.167
The NGO report also contains detailed complaints from family members of abducted students received by the NGO and filed with the Human Rights Commission. One such complaint was submitted by the relatives of 18-year-old Yasotharan Suntharaliningam, a Jaffna Hindu College student. The relatives said that at midnight on May 4, 2007, during the local curfew, a group of armed men on motorbikes, some of whom were wearing army uniforms and some wearing civilian clothes, abducted Suntharaliningam from his house in Kokuvil, Jaffna. According to the complaint, the house is located 100 meters away from an army sentry post.
Acting on the complaint, the Human Rights Commission in the Jaffna region inquired with the commander at Palaly military camp in Jaffna and the assistant superintendent of police, and forwarded the complaint to the HRC in Colombo. At the time of this writing the whereabouts of the student remains unknown.168
Other discernible categories of persons subjected to disappearance include religious leaders, humanitarian workers, and journalists. In a joint submission to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2007, a coalition of Sri Lankan NGOs drew special attention to the patterns of killings and enforced disappearances of religious leaders and attacks on places of worship. 169
Among the most highly publicized disappearance cases in Jaffna is that of Reverend Fr. Thiruchchelvan Nihal Jim Brown, a parish priest in the village of Allaipiddy on Kayts Island. He was known to have helped many civilians move from Allaipiddy to the town of Kayts during fighting in the area between Sri Lankan Navy forces and the LTTE in 2006. The priest went missing with another man, Wenceslaus Vinces Vimalathas, on August 20, 2006. The two men left Allaipiddy in the early afternoon for the nearby village of Mandaithivu, but the Sri Lankan military did not allow them to enter. On the way back to Allaipiddy they were stopped at a navy checkpoint, and they have not been seen since then.170
The navy denied having detained the men, and the investigation into the disappearance has so far produced no results.
In August 2007, a year after Fr. Jim Browns disappearance, the Christian Alliance for Social Action and the Law and Society Trust addressed President Mahinda Rajapaksa with an open letter expressing deep regret and concern that for a whole year, domestic human rights protection mechanisms, including the Commission of Inquiry have failed to find out what happened to Fr. Jim Brown and Mr. Vimalathas and prosecute those accountable.171
In a case documented by Human Rights Watch, eight people disappeared on May 6, 2006, from a Hindu temple in Kodikamam where they were spending a night for holiday celebrations. The families of the men said that the military was conducting a search operation in the village that night, and that they heard gunshots and saw army vehicles approaching the temple. When the families were able to get to the temple in the morning they found the mens sleeping mats, one of their ID cards, and blood stains on the floor, as well as bullet cartridges. The families reported the case to the Kodikamam police, SLMM, the HRC, and the ICRC, and inquired at the Varani military camp, yet to date the fate of the men remains unknown.172
On September 6, 2007, a Hong Kong-based NGO, the Asian Human Rights Commission, published a list of 57 humanitarian workers allegedly killed or disappeared since the beginning of the year. Among the 14 disappeared were persons working for the HALO Trust, the Danish Demining Group, the Methodist Community Organization for Refugees (UMCOR), the Sri Lankan Red Cross Society, and the pro-LTTE Tamil Rehabilitation Organization.173
One of the cases documented by Human Rights Watch concerns 37-year-old Charles Caston Raveendran, an employee of the HALO Trust, a de-mining organization. According to his family, on the night of November 15, 2006, a group of eight heavily armed men broke into the familys house on Old Park Road in Jaffna. The men arrived in a white van and a jeep, were wearing civilian clothes and bandanas, and spoke a mixture of Tamil and Sinhala.
Pushing the other family members into one of the rooms, the intruders searched the house, took Raveendrans documents, cell phone, watch, and work boots, and took him away with his hands tied. The family and the HALO Trust filed a complaint with the police and raised the matter with the SLMM, the HRC, and the ICRC. So far they have not been able to locate Raveendran.174
The Free Media Movement reported continuing harassment and attacks on journalists and media workers throughout Sri Lanka. The Law and Society Trust submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry detailed the cases of five media workers abducted or disappeared in 2007.175
In Colombo and to a lesser extent in other districts, many victims have been business owners. These abductions, usually followed by ransom demands, have been widely reported in the Sri Lankan media.176 The nongovernmental CMC reported that in late 2006 and early 2007, 78 Tamil businessmen were abducted from Colombo. According to the CMC, 12 of them have been murdered, five released after paying large ransoms, and 51 are still missing.177
Journalists and members of the CMC believe that the actual number of abducted businessmen is much higher, as many families and victims themselves choose not to report the cases, believing that acting on their own will bring the safe return of their relative or fearing that reporting the case will make matters worse.
Initially business owners victimized in the abductions were predominantly Tamil, but in 2007 Muslim businessmen were also targeted. According to media reports, in May 2007 more than a dozen Muslim businessmen were abducted. Some were released after paying ransoms ranging from 30 to 100 million SLR (US$ 300,000-1,000,000).178
These abductions have created an atmosphere of fear and panic among the Tamil and Muslim business communities. Many families had to sell their businesses to be able to pay the requested ransom, or decided to sell them after securing release to avoid being victimized in the future. Others have reportedly fled abroad.179
86 Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Concludes Eighty-First Session, United Nations press release, HR/07/44, March 22, 2007, http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/7601FF7596243906C12572A7002D0348?opendocument (accessed April 22, 2007).
87 Official website of the Government of Sri Lanka, Majority of Disappeared Had ReturnedCommissioner, June 29, 2007, http://www.priu.gov.lk/news_update/Current_Affairs/ca200706/20070629majority_of_disappeared_had_returned.htm (accessed September 22, 2007); US Concerned about Disappeared, BBC Sinhalese.com, June 28, 2007, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhalese/news/story/2007/06/070629_uscondemn.shtml (accessed July 2, 2007).
88 Human Rights Watch interviews (names and place withheld to protect the witnesses), February 20, 22, and 28, 2007. See also Simon Gardner, Abductions, Disappearances Haunt Sri Lankas Civil War, Reuters, March 5, 2007, and Sri Lanka Police, Soldiers Arrested over Abductions, Reuters, March 6, 2007. According to PAFFREL (Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections), 245 disappearances and abductions were reported to HRC in March and April 2007. See, Peoples Action for Free and Fair Elections, Program on Interventions by PAFFREL on Abductions, Disappearances and Killings, June 2007.
89 Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the national Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka on November 14, 2007. The chairman of the Commission responded to Human Rights Watch by e-mail on January 24, 2008. In the response, the chairman did not provide any data on cases reported to the Commission, explaining that no information is given to those media or NGO's who consider us [the Commission] as not lawfully appointed by H.E. President. The Human Rights Watch letter to the HRC and the Commissions response can be found in the Appendix II to this report.
90 The Civil Monitoring Commission was founded in November 2006 by four members of the Sri Lankan parliament to address the crisis of abductions and disappearances.
91 Second submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry and public on human rights violations in Sri Lanka: January-August 2007, joint report by Civil Monitoring Commission, Free Media Movement, and Law and Society Trust, October 31, 2007.
92 Ease Emergency Laws, Media Rights Group tells Sri Lanka, Agence France Press, August 24, 2007.
93 University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Slow Strangulation of Jaffna: Trashing General Larry Wijeratnes Legacy and Enthroning Barbarism, Special Report No. 28, December 4, 2007.
94 Second submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry and public on human rights violations in Sri Lanka: January-August 2007, joint report by Civil Monitoring Commission, Free Media Movement, and Law and Society Trust, October 31, 2007.
95 Human Rights Watch interview with the Commissions convener, Mano Ganesan, Colombo, February 20, 2007. Statistical data of the Civil Monitoring Commission, April 11, 2007, on file with Human Rights Watch.
96 Sri Lanka: Latest Report on ICRC Activities in the Field, July 7th to August 31st,ICRC Bulletin No. 16, September 3, 2007, http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/sri-lanka-news-30907 (accessed October 30, 2007).
97 The figure was cited in: Sri Lanka: Amnesty International calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council to address violations, Statement by Amnesty International, ASA 37/019/2007, September 4, 2007.
99 Second submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry and public on human rights violations in Sri Lanka: January-August 2007, joint report by Civil Monitoring Commission, Free Media Movement, and Law and Society Trust, October 31, 2007.
100 As discussed above (see subchapter on Sri Lankas obligations under international law), it is still the responsibility of the government of Sri Lanka to investigate and prosecute abductions perpetrated by individuals or groups not affiliated with the government and to provide redress for victims.
101 First in a series of submissions to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry and public on human rights violations in Sri Lanka, joint submission by Civil Monitoring Commission, Free Media Movement, and Law and Society Trust, August 23, 2007.
102 Public Security Ordinance No. 25, 1947. Section 12 as well as other related provisions in Part III of the PSO were introduced as an amendment to the PSO way back in 1959. An order under Section 12 of the PSO has to be published in the gazette, is valid only for a period of one month at a time, and has to be approved by Parliament.
103 Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulations, The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary, No.1405/14, August 13, 2005. Regulation 52.
104 Ibid. Regulation 68.
105 Saliya Edirisinghe, Police Power to the Armed Forces under Emergency Law: Reflections on Recent Protests, The Island, May 11, 2007.
106 In 2007, more than 40,000 troops were deployed on the Jaffna peninsula, which remained subject to LTTE attack and for which some areas are under LTTE control. See Simon Gardner, Abductions, Disappearances Haunt Sri Lankan Civil War, Reuters, March 4, 2007. Since 1997, the Sri Lankan navy has taken a land-fighting role as well, deploying troops to man the Forward Defense Lines on the peninsula. So-called Naval Patrolmen outnumber Seamen. There is a significant LTTE naval presence around the peninsula, which conducts attacks on civilian shipping and boating, as well as on military targets.
107 Human Rights Watch interviews, Jaffna, February 28, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, Disappearance of Thilipkumar Ranjithkumar and Ganesh Suventhiran (case Nos 14-15).
108 Human Rights Watch interview with relatives of Thavaruban Kanapathipillai, Jaffna, February 28, 2007. Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Shangar Santhivarseharam, February 28, 2007, Jaffna. For more information, see Appendix I, Disappearance of Thavaruban Kanapathipillai and Shangar Santhivarseharam (case Nos 27-28).
109 The dangers of blurring the mandates of the military and the police in the context of counterterrorism have been extensively analyzed by international scholars. See, e.g., Ronald D. Creisten, The Discourse and Practice of Counterterrorism in Liberal Democracies, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 44 (3), 1998, pp. 389-413; Jennifer Holmes, Terrorism and Democratic Stability (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001).
110 The official website of the Sri Lankan Police Service, http://www.police.lk/divisions/stf.asp (accessed September 15, 2007).
111 The force was trained by the Sri Lanka military as well as British Special Air Service (SAS).
112 Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary Removal or Disappearance of Persons in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, September 1997, http://www.disappearances.org/news/mainfile.php/frep_sl_ne/ (accessed December 6, 2007).
113 UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1997/61 - Visit to Sri Lanka, E/CN.4/1998/68/Add.2, March 12, 1998.
114 In a highly reported case from January 2006, several STF members were arrested on suspicion of summarily executing five Tamil students on a crowded beach in Trincomalee. A witness to the killing who was willing to come forward was seriously threatened. Charges were never brought against any of the alleged perpetrators, and a senior official implicated in the killings was promoted. For more details, see Human Rights Watch, Improving Civilian Protection in Sri Lanka: Recommendations for the Government and the LTTE, No 1, September 2006.
115 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Suresh Palanisamy, Colombo, March 4, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, Disappearance of Suresh Palanisamy (case No 47).
116 Sri Lankan Police, Troops Involved in Abductions: Police Chief, AFP, March 6, 2007.
117 Response of the national police to Human Rights Watch, January 2, 2008. Human Rights Watchs letter of inquiry and the response from the police can be found in Appendix II to this report.
118 University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), The Choice between Anarchy and International Law
with Monitoring, Special Report No. 23, November 7, 2006.
120 In September 2007, Karuna traveled to the United Kingdom, apparently to be with his family. In late October, British immigration authorities arrested him for immigration violations, and on January 25, 2008, he was sentenced to nine months in prison for identity document fraud. See Peter Apps, UK Jails Ex-S.Lanka Tiger Karuna for ID Fraud, Reuters, January 25, 2008.
121 See Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka Complicit in Crime: State Collusion in Abductions and Forced Recruitment by the Karuna Group, vol. 19, no. 1(c), January 2007; Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka Return to War: Human Rights under Siege, vol. 19, no. 11(c), August 2007.
122 University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Can the East be Won through Human Culling? Special report No 26, August 3, 2007.
124 International Crisis Group, Sri Lankas Human Rights Crisis, Asia Report no 135, June 14, 2007. In October 2007, a journalist reported that in the east businessmen say they have to pay massive taxes to the Karuna group for everything from building a house to selling liquor, and that the Karuna group charged Muslim truck drivers about $1.30 a day to operate in Tamil areas. See Ravi Nessman, In East Sri Lanka, Victory but No Peace, Associated Press, October 6, 2007. This is similar to tactics long used by the LTTE in areas it controlled or had an influence. See Human Rights Watch, Funding the Final War: LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora, vol. 18, no. 1(C), March 2006.
125 Ravi Nessman, In East Sri Lanka, Victory but No Peace, Associated Press, October 6, 2007.
126 Human Rights Watch interview with the relatives of Sakthivadivel Rajkumar, Colombo, March 4, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, the disappearance of Sakthivadivel Rajkumar (case No 43).
128 Human Rights Watch interview with couple from Vavuniya, Colombo, March 4, 2007.
129 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Colombo, October 2006.
130 Sri Lankan government response to Human Rights Watch, July 12, 2007.
131 Response of the national police to Human Rights Watch, January 2, 2008. Human Rights Watchs letter of inquiry and the response from the police can be found in Appendix II to this report.
132 Report on the action taken by the National Police Commission on allegations of the police involvement in the abduction and enforced disappearances, attached to the response of the national police to Human Rights Watch, January 2, 2008.
133 The leader of EPDP, Douglas Devananda, has years of experience as a revolutionary fighter. In late 1970s, after becoming the founding member of Eelam Revolutionary Organizers (EROs), he received military training with Al Fatah of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Later he became a member of politburo of the Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), and the commander of its military wing, the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). In 1984, Devanda, along with other EPRLF members, received advanced military training with the Democratic Palestine Liberation Front (DPLF) and upon his return to Sri Lanka was in charge of all political and military activities of the EPRLF in the North and East of Sri Lanka. Profile of Kathiravelu Nithyananda Douglas DevanandaLeader of the EPDP, http://www.epdpnews.com/history-new.html (accessed March 16, 2007). Since becoming head of the EPDP, he has been the target of more than a half dozen LTTE assassination attempts.
134 The decision to enter mainstream politics was made by the party leadership after in July 1987 the government signed the Indo-Lankan peace accord, which promised a degree of autonomy to Sri Lankas Tamils. According to the EPDP, it then disavowed the armed struggle for an independent state and decided to work towards autonomy for the North-East Province within a united Sri Lanka, achieved through asymmetric devolution of powers. Birth of EPDP, http://www.epdpnews.com/history-new.html (accessed March16, 2007).
135 At the 2004 parliamentary elections, EPDP won one seat in the 225-member parliament. The EPDP is a coalition member of the present UPFA government, with its leader, Douglas Devananda, serving as a Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare.
136 The EPDP has its headquarters in Colombo and has branch offices in all the districts of the north and east except in the Mullaitivu and Killinochchi districts, which are in LTTE-controlled territory. There are party offices in Jaffna town, Chavakachcheri, Karavetty, Point Pedro, Chunnakam, Manipay, Achchuvely, Changanai, Karainagar, Kayts, Velanai and Delft in the Jaffna district, in Vavuniya town in Vavuniya district, in Mannar town in Mannar district, in the Trincomalee town in Trincomalee district, in Batticaloa town in Batticaloa district, at Karaitivu in Ampara district, and also in Puttalam town.
137 According to the official EPDP website, the party considers LTTE a liberation movement that had with time degenerated into a terrorist movement and a fascist organization which has done harm to the Tamil cause by its actions over the past 15 years. See Birth of EPDP, http://www.epdpnews.com/history-new.html (accessed March 16, 2007).
138 In a public speech in February 2007, EPDP leader Devananda stated that in the late 1980s the government was arming the Tamil groups, including EPDPostensibly for self-defense purposes. Devananda said that the government of Sri Lanka provided arms to other Tamil political parties, which emerged from the status quo of militant groups to political parties after the Indo-Lanka accord, in order to protect their members from the LTTE atrocities, and added that EPDP members also had been receiving arms from the government solely for self-defensive purpose. Speech of Hon. Douglas Devananda, MP, Secretary General of EPDP and Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare, Sri Lanka Government at the Seminar on Sri Lanka: Quest for Peace, New Delhi, February 3, 2007, http://www.epdpnews.com/Media%20Release/SG%20Speech%20New%20Delhi%2003.02.2007.html#DD Speech New Delhi03.02.2007 (accessed March 15, 2007).
139 Devananda repeatedly criticized various provisions of the CFA for enhancing the LTTEs military capacity while depriving even the basic protections the other alternate Tamil political parties had for their self defence. See, e.g., Speech of Hon. Douglas Devananda, MP, Secretary General of EPDP and Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare, Sri Lanka Government at the Seminar titled Sri Lanka: Quest for Peace, New Delhi, February 3, 2007, http://www.epdpnews.com/Media%20Release/SG%20Speech%20New%20Delhi%2003.02.2007.html#DD Speech New Delhi03.02.2007 (accessed March 15, 2007).
140 Reports by international and local groups refer to EPDP as an armed group or paramilitary group. A May 2006 statement by the co-chairs of donor states for Sri Lanka (the European Union, Japan, US and Norway) mentioned that the government of Sri Lanka has failed to prevent attacks of armed groups, including Karuna and violent elements of EPDP. See The Tokyo Co-Chairs appeal to Sri Lanka to pull back from crisis, the Tokyo Co-Chairs press-release, May 30, 2006, http://www.norway.lk/press/press+release/appeal.htm (accessed April 16, 2007). The LTTE has repeatedly criticized the government for what it claims is its failure to disarm paramilitary groups, including the EPDP, as a major violation of the CFA. See, e.g., V.S. Sambandan, Colombo, LTTE Take Opposing Positions, The Hindu, February 23, 2006.
141 After the signing of the CFA, the LTTE actively sought to strip EPDP of its political support and influence in Jaffna and the northern islands, engineering a massive popular protest aimed at pushing the EPDP out. For more details, see D.B.S. Jeraraj, Indirect attack, Frontline , November 10, 2002. During parliamentary elections in 2004, the LTTE prevented EDP and other Tamil parties from holding political rallies and other campaign activities both in Jaffna and in the so-called uncleared areas in the north and east officially under LTTE-control.
142 Killing / Abduction / Attempt to Murder Causing Injuries to EPDP Members by LTTE since Signing of Ceasefire Agreement on 23rd February 2002 until September 2004, EPDP news service, http://www.epdpnews.com/Old%20achive/Killings....html (accessed April 15, 2006).
143 See, e.g., Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka: Political Killings During the Ceasefire, August 7, 2003. Reports by the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) detail many cases of killings and other attacks perpetrated by the LTTE against EPDP members and their families in 2004-2005. See, e.g., University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Political Killings and Rituals of Unreality, Information Bulletin No. 38, July 21, 2005, http://www.uthr.org/bulletins/bul38.htm (accessed April 16, 2007); University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Political Killings and Sri Lankas Stalled Peace, Special Report No. 18, March 28, 2005, http://www.uthr.org/SpecialReports/spreport18.htm (accessed April 16, 2007); University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), The Meaning of the Killing Spree, Information Bulletin No. 39, November 1, 2005, http://www.uthr.org/bulletins/bul39.htm (accessed April 16, 2007).
144 The rapporteur said that this information had been confirmed by a government official. See UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, Mission to Sri Lanka, E/CN.4/2006/53/Add.5, 27 March 2006, http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/6402584.html (accessed April 16, 2007).
145 Sri Lanka: Amnesty International condemns killings of civilians, Amnesty International public statement, ASA 37/014/2006, May 16, 2006, http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA370142006?open&of=ENG-351 (accessed April 17, 2006). University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), From Welikade to Mutur and Pottuvil, Special Report no. 25, May 31, 2007; D.B.S. Jeyaraj, Navy-EPDP Kill Thirteen Civilians in Allaipiddy-Velanai, May 16, 2006, http://transcurrents.com/tamiliana/archives/167 (accessed April 17, 2006).
146 On May 2, 2006, five gunmen attacked the office of proLTTE newspaper, Uthayan, killing two and injuring three staff members. After conducting an investigation into the case, UTHR(J) concluded that EPDP should be deemed the prime suspect in the case. See University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), When Indignation is Past and the Dust Settles-Reckoning Incompatible Agendas, Special Report No. 21, May 15, 2006, http://www.uthr.org/SpecialReports/spreport21.htm (accessed April 16, 2007).
147 Human Rights Watch interview with the relatives of Thiyagarajah Saran, Jaffna, February 25, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, the disappearance of Thiyagarajah Saran (case No 1).
148 Human Rights Watch meeting with Douglas Devananda, New York, April, 2007.
149 Human Rights Watch interview with relatives of Sivasothy Sivaramanan, Jaffna, February 25, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, the disappearance of Sivasothy Sivaramanan (case No 21).
150 Minister Confers about Disappearances in Jaffna with the President, EPDP News Flash, August 1, 2007, http://www.epdpnews.com/Archive/2007/2007-August-English/news-english-2007-08-01.html (accessed September 15, 2007).
151 Human Rights Watch meeting with Douglas Devananda, New York, April 1, 2007.
152 EPDP response to Human Rights Watch letter of inquiry, signed by Ms. Maheswary Velautham, November 26, 2007. Human Rights Watchs letter of inquiry and the response from the EPDP can be found in Appendix II to this report.
154 See Human Rights Watch, Funding the Final War: LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora, vol. 18, no. 1(C), March 2006, http://hrw.org/reports/2006/ltte0306/; Human Rights Watch, Living in Fear: Child Soldiers and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, vol. 16, no. 13(C), November 2004, http://hrw.org/reports/2004/srilanka1104/; Sri Lanka: New Killings Threaten Ceasefire, Human Rights Watch news release, July 28, 2004, http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/07/27/slanka9153.htm.
155 For numerous examples of killings perpetrated by the LTTE in 2007, see University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Slow Strangulation of Jaffna: Trashing General Larry Wijeratnes Legacy and Enthroning Barbarism, Special Report No. 28, December 4, 2007.
158 Letter by Gajan Kanagarajah, February 17, 2007, cited in: D.B.S. Jeyaraj, People Perturbed as Tigers Intensify Conscription, February 20, 2007, Transcurrents.com, http://transcurrents.com/tamiliana/archives/290 (accessed September 17, 2007).
159 Human Rights Watch interview with the relatives of Padmanathan Rajendran and Nishathan Tharmakulasingham, Jaffna, February 28, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, the abduction of Padmanathan Rajendran, Sureshkumar Rajendran, and Nishathan Tharmakulasingham (case Nos 22-24).
160 In about 15 percent of the cases the ethnicity of the victims was not specified. See Second submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry and public on human rights violations in Sri Lanka: January-August 2007, joint report by Civil Monitoring Commission, Free Media Movement, and Law and Society Trust, October 31, 2007.
163 Human Rights Watch interview with the relatives of Sivasooriyakumar Tharmaratnam, Jaffna, February 27, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, the disappearance of Sivasooriyakumar Tharmaratnam (case No 19).
164 Human Rights Watch interview with relatives of Sivasothy Sivaramanan, Jaffna, February 25, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, the disappearance of Sivasothy Sivaramanan (case No 21).
165 D.B.S. Jeyaraj, An Overview of the Enforced Disappearances Phenomenon, April 13, 2007, http://transcurrents.com/tamiliana/archives/311 (accessed September 17, 2007); University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Disillusionment with the State and the Perils of Unity in Grievance, Bulletin No 24, December 13, 2007.
166 According to UNICEF, from the start of the ceasefire in 2002 to January 2007, there have been 6,241 cases of child abductions for recruitment6,006 by the LTTE and 235 by the Karuna faction. UNICEF estimates that only a third of the cases of child recruitment are reported by the families. For more information on child recruitment by the LTTE and the Karuna faction, see Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka Complicit in Crime: State Collusion in Abductions and Forced Recruitment by the Karuna Group, vol. 19, no. 1(c), January 2007; Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka Return to War: Human Rights under Siege, vol. 19, no. 11(c), August 2007.
167 The report and the copies of the flyers are on file with Human Rights Watch. Name of the NGO withheld for security reasons.
169 Killing and Enforced Disappearances of Religious Leaders and Attacks on Places of Religious Worship in Sri Lanka, Joint written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a nongovernmental organization in general consultative status, the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, an NGO in special consultative status, and the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), Human Rights Council, Sixth Session, A/HRC/6/NGO/45, September 5, 2007.
170 For more details, see Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka Return to War: Human Rights under Siege, vol. 19, no. 11(c), August 2007; Amnesty International, Further Information on UA 230/06 (ASA 37/023/2006, 29 August 2006) Fear for Safety/ Possible disappearance: Reverend Fr. Thiruchchelvan Nihal Jim Brown and Wenceslaus Vinces Vimalathas, ASA 37/025/2006, 12 September 2006.
171 Christian Alliance for Social Action and the Law and Society Trust, One Year after the Disappearance of Rev. Fr. Jim Brown and Mr. Vimalathas: Open letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Establish Truth and Justice, August 21, 2007.
172 Human Rights Watch interview with the families of the eight men, Jaffna, February 28, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, Case Nos 35-42.
173 Law and Society Trust, Working document on humanitarian workers killed, disappeared and abducted 1st Jan 2006 22nd Aug 2007, August 23, 2007, www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/_tools/download.asp?docID=2416&type=any (accessed December 17, 2007).
174 Human Rights Watch interview with the relatives of Charles Caston Raveendran, Jaffna, February 25, 2007. For more information, see Appendix I, the disappearance of Charles Caston Raveendran (case No 20).
175 Second submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry and public on human rights violations in Sri Lanka: January-August 2007, joint report by Civil Monitoring Commission, Free Media Movement, and Law and Society Trust, October 31, 2007.
176 See, e.g., D.B.S. Jeyaraj, Dear Ones of Disappeared in depths of Despair, Transcurrents.com, April 12, 2007, http://transcurrents.com/tamiliana/archives/310 (accessed April 15, 2007); Sri Lanka: Spectre of abductions by the security forces officially admitted, Asian Center for Human Rights Weekly Review, 157/2007, March 7, 2007, http://www.achrweb.org/Review/2007/157-07.htm (accessed April 20, 2007); Chris Kamalendran, The Terror of Abduction and Ransom, The Sunday Times, June 3, 2007.
177 Abductions spread to Wellawaya, LeN, April 10, 2007, http://www.lankaenews.com/English/news.php?id=4016&PHPSESSID=44f6794ad7ada4b4dd9ee826d35c2f9c (accessed September 17, 2007).
178 Muslim Businessman Abducted, The Nation, May 27, 2007; 400 Million Ransoms Paid by Abducted Muslim Businessmen, LeN, June 7, 2007, http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2007/6/15692_space.html (accessed September 17, 2007).
179 D.B.S. Jeyaraj, An Overview of the Enforced Disappearances Phenomenon, April 13, 2007, http://transcurrents.com/tamiliana/archives/311 (accessed September 17, 2007); Chris Kamalendran, The Terror of Abduction and Ransom, The Sunday Times, June 3, 2007.