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Sri Lanka: "disappearance" / fear of extrajudicial execution: Marsilin Michael Colin, Iyavu Shanmuganathan, Krishnapillai Thuruparan

, Index number: ASA 37/016/1995

There are fears for the safety of the above-named three young Tamil men, who were detained by the security forces in Colombo between 4 and 14 June 1995. Recent reports of people being abducted, killed in custody and their bodies disposed of secretly have heightened fears about their fate. Efforts to find out what has happened to them have not been successful. There have been continuing reports of arbitrary detentions of hundreds of Tamils since the resumption of hostilities in mid-April, especially in the east of the country and in the capital, Colombo.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 37/16/95
Distr: UA/SC
UA 177/95 "Disappearance" / Fear of Extrajudicial Execution 20 July 1995
SRI LANKA Marsilin Michael Colin
Iyavu Shanmuganathan, aged 26
Krishnapillai Thuruparan, aged 27
There are fears for the safety of three young Tamil men detained by the security
forces in the capital Colombo between 4 June and 14 June 1995. Amnesty
International fears that they may have been killed in custody and their bodies
disposed of in secret, a fear heightened by recent reports of similar abductions
and killings.
On 4 June, Marsilin Michael Colin of Grandpass, Colombo, was arrested while
he was waiting for a bus near St Anthony's church, Kochchikade, Colombo. His
relatives made inquiries at various police stations in Colombo but failed to
establish his whereabouts. A member of parliament raised his "disappearance"
with the Secretary to the President. Relatives also informed the Human Rights
Task Force (HRTF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Iyavu Shanmuganathan, a resident of Ragama, north of Colombo, and Krishnapillai
Thuruparan were arrested on 14 June at about 7am while having breakfast in
a cafe in Kotahena. They were both employed at a video shop nearby. They were
reportedly arrested by members of the Special Task Force (STF), a police commando
unit. Relatives made inquiries at Kotahena police station but officers denied
that any persons of those names had been arrested by them. The police reportedly
advised one relative to visit the mortuary at Colombo General Hospital. The
relative did so but failed to find Iyavu Shanmuganathan. Further inquiries
were made at Ganemulla and Gonahena STF camps and at Grandpass and Maradana
police station, but no information was given as to their whereabouts.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Since the resumption in mid-April of hostilities in the northeast of Sri Lanka
between the security forces and members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,
the main armed opposition group, there have been continuing reports of arbitrary
arrests of hundreds of Tamil people, particularly in the east of the country
and in the capital, Colombo. Amnesty International has also received reports
of "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.
While acknowledging that the security forces have to date refrained from
resorting to systematic extrajudicial executions and "disappearances", as
frequently reported on a large scale in the past, Amnesty International has
urged the government to take effective measures to prevent further human rights
violations.
In the period late May to late June 1995, at least 16 bodies were found in
the vicinity of Colombo, thought to be of Tamils taken into custody and
subsequently "disappeared". Although so far only one of the bodies has been
identified by name and one other has been identified as a Tamil by a religious
tattoo on his arm, information available so far suggests that at least some
of them were held prisoner and then killed by strangulation or drowning.
On 29 June 1995, the President of Sri Lanka ordered an investigation into the
discovery of eleven bodies in Bolgoda lake, south of Colombo, to be carried
out by the police's Criminal Investigation Department. The results of the
2
investigation are not yet known, although details of post-mortem examinations
of the bodies show that several of the victims had their hands and feet tied
and were thrown into the water alive. According to the doctor carrying out
post-mortems on eight of the bodies, all were males aged between 25 and 35.
The eight reportedly showed signs of starvation and two of strangulation; six
had been thrown in the water alive with their hands and feet tied together.
Numerous checkpoints have been established in Colombo and surrounding areas
since the resumption of hostilities. It is unlikely that any vehicle
transporting prisoners would have been able to get past these checkpoints unless
they were driven by authorized persons. The body of one young man was found
55 miles away from the place of his arrest.
In mid-June 1995, the government announced it would reinstate the powers of
the HRTF, an independent body set up by the previous government to monitor
and safeguard the welfare of detainees (see UA 103/95, ASA 37/07/95, 28 April
1995, and UA 139/95, ASA 37/13/95, 15 June 1995). At the same time, the President
issued directives to the heads of the security forces to safeguard the rights
of detainees, including the issuing of "arrest receipts" with the name and
rank of the arresting officer, the time and date of arrest and the place at
which the person will be detained. Amnesty International has welcomed these
measures and has urged that all necessary steps be taken to ensure strict
implementation. However, the organization has expressed concern about some
aspects of the new measures. For example, whereas current Emergency
Regulations (ERs) lay the onus of issuing such receipts on the arresting
authority, the presidential directives require them to be issued only "upon
request". Moreover, the ERs state that the HRTF should be notified of arrest
"forthwith, and in [any] case not later than forty-eight hours"; the directives,
however, state that the HRTF should be informed "as soon as possible and in
any case within four days of such arrest".
Amnesty International is concerned at continuing reports of arbitrary arrest
and "disappearance". It believes that the immediate issuing of "arrest receipts"
and prompt notification of the HRTF are essential first steps to preventing
further "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.
To date, Amnesty International has asked the HRTF to investigate twelve reports
of "disappearance": five from Colombo, four from Trincomalee, three from
Batticaloa and one from Vavuniya. It is alleged that in none of these cases
was an "arrest receipt" issued.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- calling for a full, impartial investigation to establish the whereabouts
of Marsilin Michael Colin, Iyavu Shanmuganathan and Krishnapillai Thuruparan
and asking to be informed of the results;
- seeking assurances that, if in detention, they are being treated humanely
in accordance with international standards;
- expressing concern that "arrest receipts" are often not issued by the arresting
authorities; urging that every effort be made to ensure that these are issued
in all cases and that the HRTF is promptly informed, as important steps to
prevent further "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions in custody.
APPEALS TO:
Her Excellency President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
Presidential Residence
3
"Temple Trees"
Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
Faxes: + 94 1 33 37 03
Telegrams: President Kumaratunga, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Salutation: Your Excellency
The Hon (Colonel) Anuruddha Ratwatte
Deputy Minister of Defence and of Irrigation, Power & Energy
Ministry of Irrigation, Power & Energy
No. 500 T B Jayah Mawatha
Colombo 10, Sri Lanka
Faxes: + 94 1 68 77 68 (dialling tone may change before it connects to fax)
Telex: 803 22229
Telegrams: Deputy Defence Minister, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Salutation: Dear Minister
Lt-General Gerry de Silva
Army Commander
Army Headquarters
Flagstaff Street
Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
Telegrams: Army Commander, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Salutation: Dear Army Commander
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO: diplomatic representatives of Sri Lanka accredited
to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 31 August 1995.

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