| by Desmond Tutu

( March 21, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The evidence presented in this report gives the lie to the Sri Lankan government’s propaganda that it is reconciling with its former enemies. It shows how anyone remotely connected with the losing side in the civil war is being hunted down; tortured and raped, five years after the guns fell silent. Shockingly, more than half of the abductions in the report took place as recently as 2013-2014. The testimony collected here comes from 40 witnesses, almost all of whose families could afford to pay a bribe for their release; one wonders what happened to those whose relatives could not afford to pay and to those without relatives. The sheer viciousness and brutality of the sexual violence is staggering; as is the racist verbal abuse by the torturers and rapists in the Sri Lankan security forces. Thirty-five of these witnesses were forced to sign confessions in Sinhala; a language they do not understand.

In some cases people were forced to turn informer as well as to betray innocent bystanders in order to survive and left to bear the subsequent terrible burden of guilt.

I find it horrifying that almost half the witnesses interviewed for this report attempted to kill themselves after reaching safety outside Sri Lanka. This indicates the Sri Lankan government has achieved its aim in destroying these souls, who are unlikely to regain happiness and peace in their lives. My deepest hope is that the cycle of revenge will be broken. In order for this to happen, the international community must intervene. It is imperative to pierce the skein of impunity that surrounds Sri Lanka – an island where the war is clearly not yet over.

( Foreword to the report released by the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) and The International Truth & Justice Project, Sri Lanka.)