Sri Lanka: 11,000 Tamils Still Held for “Rehabilitation”
Posted by Ka Frank on December 9, 2009
DNA India, December 6, 2009
11,000 Tamil ‘fighters’ held in secured Lankan camps
London: Over 11,000 Tamil ‘fighters’, including children, were held by Sri Lanka without charge in highly secured “rehabilitation centres”, despite claims by authorities it had lifted restrictions on the movement of all displaced persons, a news report has said.
According to The Times newspaper, more than 11,000 Tamil prisoners are being held without charge in closely guarded “rehabilitation centres”, even as the government claimed it had released all Tamil civilians from detention centres last week. It said children are among 11,000 Tamil ‘fighters’ held in rehabilitation.
According to the report, the prisoners, whose exact number has been unknown due to the government placed restitutions, is allegedly a “combatant category” that includes former LTTE fighters. However, the definition of “Tamil Tiger” is unclear. Apart from the hardcore LTTE cadres, many of those in the camps are thought to be Tamil youths, their family members and civil administrators, forcibly conscripted by the Tigers in the final stages of the war.According to media reports, the parents of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the Tamil Tiger leader killed this year, are being held in the notorious “4th Floor” detention complex in Colombo. They are in their seventies and had long been alienated from their son by his terrorist activities.
Even as the government allowed nearly 1.30 lakh Tamil civilians housed in refugees camps in northern Sri Lanka to visit their relatives this week, there is concern over the fate of the 11,000 still being held, the report said.
The London-based daily pointed out reports suggesting a new round of arrests over the past few weeks among civilians on the verge of being released from camps. “I’ve got between 30 and 40 cases in which families have been released here from the detention centres, only to have their menfolk taken away at the final moment to a so-called rehabilitation centre,” Father V. Yogeswaran, director of the Centre for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in Trincomalee, was quoted as saying.
“As for ‘secret’ detention camps? I wouldn’t openly say that they exist for sure, but I tend to think they do. Some men have been taken away and never accounted for,” he said.
Last week the government allowed nearly 1.30 lakh Tamil civilians housed in refugees camps in northern Sri Lanka to visit their relatives as authorities lifted restrictions on their movement.
Some 3 lakh Tamils were housed in the refugees camps after the final stage of the government’s military operations that defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May. Risath Bathiyutheen, the Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services, told the media that there will be no restrictions imposed on the duration of their absence from the villages.
The government has declared that civilians will be free to leave the villages once they have given their personal details to the authorities concerned. All civilians of the Vavuniya welfare village from Jaffna Peninsula and Eastern Province have already been resettled, an official statement said. The government has said all efforts would be made to resettle all displaced people by January 31.