Place: Jaffna | Courtesy: Collection
| Date: 20000106

On the evening of Tuesday 28th December 1999, Sarathambal Saravanbavananthakurukal, of a Hindu Brahmin family, was forcibly dragged from her home, in Pungudutivu, near Jaffna Peninsula, by Sri Lankan Navy soldiers. They then gang-raped and murdered her in cold blood. The body of the 29 year-old mother was found the following morning, under leaves, not far from her home near Kannaki Amman Temple.

As the news of yet another horrific rape and murder case of a Tamil woman by Sri Lankan security forces reaches the world outside the island of Sri Lanka, President Chandrika Kumaratunga was reported to have ordered an immediate investigation on 30th December 1999. The Sri Lankan government, it appears, wishes to act speedily to avoid the involvement of human rights organisations in the matter.

IMPUNITY According to the witness of Sarathambal’s neighbours the real suspects have already been transferred from the area to prevent action being taken against them. This is a familiar method used by the Sri Lankan government to avoid scrutiny. The climate of impunity continues to reign. It has frequently been pointed out that when the Sri Lankan government does, in rare cases, order an inquiry into human rights violations, the motivation stems from a desire to silence public and international criticism, rather than a genuine commitment to protect human rights and prevent further violations.

RAPE AS WEAPON OF WAR The Sri Lankan security forces are still using gang-rape and murder of Tamil women and girls, with chilling and systematic regularity, to subjugate and terrorise the Tamil people. Rape is being used as a weapon of war. The Sri Lankan government is in grave breach of its obligations as signatory to the Geneva conventions, including Common Article 3.

TCHR has records of catalogues of rape and murder cases of Tamil women by Sri Lankan security forces in Sri Lankan army occupied Jaffna, in the North, and in the East of the island, including Amparai. The actual number of rape cases is far higher than recorded. Many Tamil women who survive the trauma want to remain unidentified due to cultural sensitivities within the community.

TCHR urges all human rights organisations and bodies of the international community to express outrage at this latest odious case of gang-rape and murder, in order to help prevent further atrocities and violence against Tamil women.

Thank you.

Head Office: Centre Tamoul de Droits de l’Homme - CTDH - TCHR 9, Rue des Peupliers, 95140 Garges les Gonesse, FRANCE

Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR 88, College Road, Manchester, M16 8FH. UK. Thank you.

Jaffna women condemn Sarathambal rape, murder

A large number of women took part in a public protest Thursday evening, condemning the gang-rape and murder of a young mother, Sarathambal. The meeting, organised by the Women Development Center, was held at Navalar Cultural Hall in Nallur, near Jaffna town.

Ms. Saroja Sivachchandran, Director of the Women Development Center, who presided the meeting said time had come to take concrete steps to stop brutal actions against women by military forces.

Attorney-at-Law Ms Linga Thurairajah said on her return from Bangladesh after attending a conference on women liberation, she had come to know the brutal rape and murder of Sarathamabal.

Mr.S.Paramananthan of the Movement for Justice and Peace and Ms R.Jeyarajah, Principal, Jaffna's Hindu Ladies College also spoke.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mrs. Saroja Sivachchandran informed the audience that a full report of the proceedings of the meeting would be sent to the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunge.