Sat, Nov 11, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Eight years after Sri Lanka’s civil war, Tamil refugees speak of recent torture and rape

A civil war that hit the nation’s Tamil majority hard ended in 2009, but men who have fled the country tell stories of abduction and sexual torture as recent as this year

By Paisley Dodds  /  AP, LONDON

For 11 days, he said men stripped him, touched his genitals and forced him to touch theirs.

The 12th day was worse, he said.

“I was put on a bench face down with my hands tied under it and my feet tied to it,” he told reporters.

After refusing to sign a confession written in Sinhalese, the majority’s language, his torturers threw a rag soaked in petrol into a bag and shoved the bag onto his head, he said.

He passed out, he said, adding that when he awoke, he was in a torture room.

It was there that the soles of his feet were thrashed and his back was beaten with a metal pipe, he said.

His captors then heated up long metal rods so they could brand him with the marks of a tiger, he added.

He was released on the 13th day, after his father paid a bribe and found a Muslim trafficker to arrange for a fake passport for passage to the UK, he said, adding that in the same month after he arrived, he tried to hang himself with a wire rope.

“From all of the beatings, especially on the soles of my feet, the pain had taken over, but what haunted me the most is all of the sexual torture that went on,” he said.

More than a dozen of the victims have tried to kill themselves.

Many of the men said they signed false confessions after the torture.

The road to recovery will be no easy journey for the men, said psychotherapist Caroline Roemmele, who supervises some of their counselling.

A mixture of antidepressants, sleeping pills and pain medication brings comfort to some, while others find solace in telling their stories, even though each word awakens memories of their traumas, she said.

“It’s a long process,” Roemmele said. “But the human race wouldn’t have survived if we couldn’t survive trauma.”

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