The Pulse

Abductions and Torture in Jaffna: Can Sri Lanka Change?

Recent Features

The Pulse

Abductions and Torture in Jaffna: Can Sri Lanka Change?

A British citizen was abducted and tortured during a recent visit to the island.

Abductions and Torture in Jaffna: Can Sri Lanka Change?
Credit: Flickr/ Indi Samarajiva

The Guardian has run a really disturbing piece about a British man who was tortured during a recent visit to Sri Lanka. Evidently, Velauthapillai Renukaruban, who had travelled to Sri Lanka to get married, ran into trouble once he arrived in Jaffna, the capital of the Northern province.

Here’s part of that Guardian piece:

But soon after Renukaruban, who is a Tamil, arrived back at the family home in Jaffna, north Sri Lanka, his family said two men arrived on motorbikes, beat him up in front of his mother and older sister and then bundled him into a van. He was accused of being involved with LTTE, a militant group known as the Tamil Tigers, which fought to break away from the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka. He was then taken to Jaffna prison.

Here’s the next paragraph:

He was only located several days later, after his family made extensive inquiries about his whereabouts. He had injuries consistent with torture, according to Anton Punethayanagam, the Sri Lankan human rights lawyer his family engaged to represent him.

According to the article, Renukaruban “was previously involved with LTTE when he was living in Sri Lanka as a teenager.” It’s no secret that former members of the LTTE face daunting challenges in post-war Sri Lanka. But ex-combatants aren’t the only ones who have been subjected to torture.

What’s more, credible organizations such as the International Truth and Justice Project – Sri Lanka and Freedom from Torture have documented torture cases since Maithripala Sirisena assumed the presidency in January 2015.

According to The Guardian, Renukaruban got married on July 3 and returned to the UK almost immediately. Sadly, he was compelled to leave Sri Lanka before he could obtain a UK visa for his wife.

Given the unexpected transfer of power eighteen months ago, the Sri Lankan government wants the international community to believe that things are really changing in the country. And, while it appears that certain things are, credible cases of torture continue to surface.

Is this a pattern that will change on Sirisena’s watch?