Torture and murder by the Sri Lanka Special Task Force

Place: Sri Lanka | Courtesy: London Sunday Observer
| Date: 19850414

" The (Sri Lanka) Special Task Force of police commandos was created last year and trained by British experts who are former members of the (British) Special Air Services (SAS)...

"....a 23 year old man described from his hospital bed how he was arrested by police commandos (belonging to the Special Task Force) and accused of being a terrorist. He was tortured for two months before being released without explanation and dumped at the local hospital.

Mahendra Kesivapillai, a second year science student from Jaffna University, told me nails were driven into his heels to force him to confess. Chilli powder was rubbed into sensitive parts of his body and he was hung up by his handcuffed wrists for upto eight hours a day in his prison cell...

Doctors at Batticaloa hospital, where Kesivapillai has been a patient since last month, say he has been subjected to unbelievable cruelty.There are many burn marks, they say, on his buttocks and arms. Two bones in his arms, the radius and the ulna, have been so badly damaged after being ripped apart, he will never recover the use of his arms.

...Kesivapillai thinks he was released because he managed to smuggle out a letter to his father, a retired teacher, telling him where he was...

Kesivapillai's horrifying experience is not the only example of commando brutality according to the local citizen's action committee. Prince Casinader, headmaster of a Batticaloa school and chairman of the action committee said there were other cases of young men picked up by unmarked commando vans and taken to unknown destinations.

Last month unable to trace three of his missing school boys, he went in desperation to the local mortuary. 'I saw three horribly mangled bodies with bashed in skulls. I don't know who they were, poor wretches, but they were not my boys.'

The commandos also use tactics that were first made popular by the army... They burn the homes of families harbouring suspected 'terrorists'. Last month after a mine killed seven members of a police patrol outside Batticaloa, commandos surrounded the three nearby villages of Koduwannadu, Tamanavelli and Kayankadu, where they set fire to 27 (Tamil) homes.." (Shyam Bhatia reporting from Colombo in the London Sunday Observer, 14 April 1985)