Child Rape by Sri Lanka Army

Place: Atchuvely | Courtesy: HURT
| Date: 19961112

Selverajah Theenuka is a 10 year old Tamil I-Iindu girl, living in Pathmeni, Atchuvely on the Jaffna Peninsula. A Sth grade student, she was on her way to school last Tuesday (l2th November 96). At 8.15, she was abducted by Sri Lankan soldiers and taken to the Sri Lankan army's Puttur V.C. camp. There, she was stripped and raped repeatedly by Sinhala soldiers. When they had finished, the soldiers released

formal protest. He took Thenuka with him. The camp commanders made no attempt to investigate the complaint or give an apology. The principal and Theenuka were then forcibly taken off the camp. On the l4th and l5th, students from three schools in the surrounding area, Atchuvely Maha Vidyalayam, Neervely Aththiar school and Sri Somaskanthe College stayed away from school as a protest. Military officials visited the school and took down the names of those who had stayed away. Certain sections of the army are now spreading rumours that Theenuka's school teachers assaulted her.

BACKGROUND

The predominantly Sinhalese Sri Lankan army captured the Jaffna Peninsula from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in late 1995 - early 1996. Since then, wide scale violations of human rights have been carried out, under a blanket of press censorship. Up to 40,000 Sinhalese soldiers control the area which has a quarter of a million Tamils. Many Tamil Hindu civilians have'disappeared' after being taken into army custody . Arbitrary arrests of Tamil boys and girls are common and there have been several incidents of torture. The Sinhala soldiers stationed in Tamil areas are also responsible for numerous rapes of young Tamil women. Frequently, the victims are murdered after being assaulted. In some cases girls who had been raped were returned to their families who were then warned not to lodge complaints.

The administration of the Jaffna peninsula is carried out by the military. There are no civilian organisations to receive complaints from victims of atrocities. Also, many government sponsored organisations are not viewed as independent bodies by the Tamil populace.

The government has forbiddenjournalists from visiting the affected areas of the island. The ban has been in place for over a year, including areas secured by the Sri Lankan military. On two occasions, journalists have been taken on closely conducted tours by the military, but have had limited access to Tamil civilians and limited freedom of movement. This is contributing to an atmosphere of impunity amongst the armed services.