Feb 20, 2017

Sri Lanka military slams former president for revealing sexual abuse

Highly disturbed by an exposure of Tamil women being  sexually exploited by security forces,  the head of Sri Lanka's official reconciliation body has come under heavy criticism by the military.

Denying an allegation by former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge of widespread sexual exploitation in war torn north by the military in addition to government officials, the military headquarters claimed that  it is "unsubstantiated and baseless".

The military was cautious in not naming the former president and referred to her merely as "the head of an ethnic reconciliation body".

Former President Kumaratunge heads the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) under President Maithripala Sirisena.

The president is also the supreme commander of the security forces.

'Baseless'

ONUR was established in 2015 following a resolution by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe approved by the cabinet of ministers.

At a meeting in Colombo with the Sri Lanka Foreign Correspondents Association  (FCA) ONUR head Kumaratunga confirmed what the UN and other human rights organisations have been exposing.

"There is a lot of sexual abuse still going on by officials, even to sign a document,  even Tamil officials and even at lower levels, the grama sevakas (local officials) and of course some people in the armed forces," she told the journalists.

Chandrika Army 670px 20 02 17

The military denied her statement as "unsubstantiated and baseless" claiming that that such allegations cannot be leveled at them as they have withdrawn from civilian administration since 2010.

"Since then, the Army has not been involved in administration concerning civilians, and the question of sexual exploitation and abuses during the said process does not hence arise," says a statement by the military headquarters.

It also warns "baseless assertions of this nature would only jeopardize the reconciliation process".

Ongoing abuse

ONUR head Kumaratunge fears that any probe against alleged military atrocities including war crimes will be exploited by extremist Sinhala forces led by ousted President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"The army will be roused and there will be a big hoohaa," she told FCA journalists.

Human rights organizations have documented detailed evidence of alleged ongoing sexual abuse by the armed forces in highly militarised Tamil majority north, which has been accepted by the UN as credible.

(by Athula Vithanage – jdslanka.org)

 

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