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UA 398/92 - Sri Lanka: fear of "disappearance" / unacknowledged detention: Vishwanathan Pathmanathan

, N° d'index: ASA 37/012/1992

Vishwanathan Pathmanathan, a shop owner aged 38, was arrested on 24 November 1992. He was taken away by army personnel while attending a memorial ceremony for his aunt and was later seen being taken into the Kommathurai Army Camp. Relatives who inquired about him were told that he had been transferred to Batticaloa; however, when they inquired at Batticaloa Prison Camp, they were told that no such person was there. The ICRC and the Human Rights Task Force offices at Batticaloa have also inquired about him but to date no response has been received. Relatives claim that he may have been arrested at the instigation of a person who works closely with the army and who was trying to extort money from Vishwanathan Pathmanathan.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 37/12/92
Distr: UA/SC
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UA 398/92 Fear of "disappearance"/ 17 December 1992
unacknowledged detention
SRI LANKA: Vishwanathan Pathmanathan, aged 38, shop owner
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Vishwanathan Pathmanathan
who was arrested on 24 November 1992 but whose detention has not been
acknowledged by the authorities. Vishwanathan Pathmanathan was taken away by
army personnel while attending a memorial ceremony for his aunt and was put
on a bus going from Batticaloa to Valaichenai. He was taken off the bus at
the Kommathurai Army Camp and was seen being taken into the camp at around
When relatives tried to make inquiries at the army camp on 24 November, they
were chased away. When they went back the next day, they were told that
Vishwanathan Pathmanathan had been transferred to Batticaloa. A
fellow-prisoner, who has since been released, has testified that he last saw
Vishwanathan Pathmanathan in detention at Kommathurai army camp on 25 November
1992. He said he saw Vishwanathan Pathmanathan being put in a lorry by soldiers
and driven away. When relatives made inquiries at Batticaloa prison camp, they
were told there was no such person detained there.
Relatives have made appeals to the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) and Human Rights Task Force (HRTF) offices at Batticaloa. They also
have also made enquiries with the Commanding Officer of the Army at Batticaloa
but to date have not received a response.
According to the relatives, Vishwanathan Pathmanathan may have been arrested
at the instigation of a person who works closely with the army in Kommathurai
and who had tried to extort money from him. This person had been present at
the time of his arrest.
Although reports of "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions during 1992
have been significantly fewer than in previous years, these grave violations
continue at a high rate, particularly in Batticaloa District.
During a recent Amnesty International mission to Sri Lanka, senior military
officers admitted that the army holds certain prisoners in unacknowledged
detention for periods varying from a few days to a few weeks, with no written
record of the arrest during this time, and hidden from the ICRC.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern about the arrest and subsequent "disappearance" of
Vishwanathan Pathmanathan;
- urging that an immediate investigation be conducted into his "disappearance"
to determine his place of detention;
- seeking assurances that if he is in custody, he be humanely treated and
granted immediate and regular access to relatives and a lawyer.
Page 2 of UA 398/92
1) His Excellency President Ranasinghe Premadasa
Presidential Secretariat
Republic Square
Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
Telegrams: President Premadasa, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Telexes: 22650 PRESEC CE
Faxes: + 94 1 44 6657
Salutation: Dear President
2) The Hon D B Wijetunga
Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence
Ministry of Defence
Republic Square
Colombo 2, Sri Lanka
Telegrams: Prime Minister, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Telexes: 22229 MINDEF CE
Faxes: + 94 1 44 6091
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
3) Lieutenant General Cecil Waidyaratne
Commander in Chief of the Army
Flower Road
Colombo 7, Sri Lanka
Telegrams: Commander-in-Chief C. Waidyaratne, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Telexes: 22496 AYCMDC SL
Salutation: Dear Lieutenant General
4) Justice J F A Soza
Human Rights Task Force
75, Norris Canal Road
Colombo 10, Sri Lanka
Salutation: Dear Justice Soza
5) Justice H A G de Silva
Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary Removal of Persons
Room No. 2-115, BMICH
Bauddhaloka Mawatha
Colombo 7, Sri Lanka
Salutation: Dear Justice de Silva
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO: diplomatic representatives of Sri Lanka in your
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 28 January 1993.

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