Guantánamo Bay Camp – Is a parallel existing in Sri Lanka

( February 16, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is an extrajudicial detainment and interrogation facility of the United States located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, where suspected Islamic terrorists are held in detention indefinitely.

Guantanamo Bay Camp earned the international condemnation and very serious charges of human rights violations in the camp are still debated lively.

Tamil Prisoners
Beyond the judicial implications of holding the detainees far away from the territorial borders of the United States, the implication of extra-judicial process that was followed were confirmed evidentially on many instances. For the Obama administration, Guantanamo Bay Camp was a thorn in the flesh. Since his election as President, efforts are being made to mitigate the adverse conduct in the operation of the camp.

A parallel situation is existing within the territorial limits of Sri Lanka. The name for the torture camp is a top secret in the tiny island Sri Lanka. Almost about fifty important men of the LTTE, whom were taken in bus loads following their surrender in Vanni in May 2009 are said to be kept in a secret location somewhere in Sri Lanka. Authentic eye witness accounts that these men are still living has not been confirmed officially, though news from clandestine sources confirm many are living in a secret detention camp.

Foul play was suspected when government Minister D E W Gunesekara said that two of those arrested (namely Yogaratnam Gogi and S Balakumar) were dead in the battle front, when ample eye witness accounts are available that they surrendered to the army in Vanni. Minister D E W Gunesekara created the fear, that with his incorrect story, all those 50 odd LTTE men would have been slaughtered by the Sri Lankan army.

News seeping through the tightly managed defense establishment confirm, many of those detained are living and are held in a secret incommunicado detention. Even the Defense Secretary when asked by the Indian media recently said that he is not aware whether LTTE’s Balakumar is dead or alive. This gives the possibility that Balakumar could be alive.

The man overall in charge of the Defense establishment is (strangely) unable to confirm the fate of an important member of the LTTE who had surrendered to the army. The Defense Secretary since his return to Colombo, has not made any further statement about the fates of the 50 odd surrendered LTTE men including Balakumar. Even the constrained media in Sri Lanka did not make an effort to create a debate on the issue, due to fear of prevailing heavy handed behaviour of the government against anyone questioning.

Guantanamo Bay detention
The international focus on Sri Lanka has not specifically touched on these surrendered men, though adequate pressure has been put on civilian deaths and white flag murders. To this date, international outcry has been next to nothing, thus giving Carte Blanche to the Defense Secretary and his forces to do anything to these men and maintain total disregard and silence about their fate.

The LTTE had been a ruthless organisation matching the ruthlessness of the government against its own minority citizens. Whatever criminality of the LTTE’s conduct, government of Sri Lanka has the responsibility to provide safety for the surrendered men under the international laws it has subscribed to. It is almost three years since these men are being held in captivity, without any exposure or trial except for one Paapa being recruited as an intelligence spy.

LTTE’s Paapa who is now serving the government will be a prime witness to provide evidence about his colleagues in incommunicado detention. The family members of these LTTE men are awaiting in aghast to know the fate of these men. Whether the forthcoming Geneva sittings of the UNHCR opens a chapter of accountability on these men will be a matter earnestly watched by the concerned.