The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is gravely concerned about the brutal attack by the police on the people of Baddegama village, Madahapola on 31 December 2003. When the torture victim’s mother went to the Gokarella Police Station to lodge the complaint, about 200 drunken policemen and their supporters who had gathered at the police station for a year-end celebration party, rushed to the village and brutally attacked the villagers with poles and cycle chains. The villagers tried to lodge a complaint to the police station but the police have not received it. More seriously, it is alleged that the OIC threatened further assault to the villagers after they reported the incident to the National Police Commission (NPC) and the National Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in Colombo.
This is clear evidence of the miserable situation which the Sri Lankan people have faced for a long time. The custom of torture by the police is well known, yet the Sri Lankan government has failed to provide any proper action to eliminate the practice. Your urgent action is required to request the local authorities to take positive action immediately.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Name of the victim: Ashoka Pradeep Kumara (20 years old), Saman Puspakumar (17 years old), Mr. R. M. Newton Ratnayaka (29 years old), Mr. W. P. Piyadasa (70 years old), Mr. Nilantha Kumar Rajapakse, Mr. Chaminda Sureshkumar, Mr. U. N. Jayantha Premlal, Mr. Samurdhi Niyamaka, and the many village people in Baddegama, Madahapola
Alleged perpetrators: Mr. Weeraratne Inspector of the Police (IP), and approximately 200 people including several policemen from the Gokarella Police Station, retired policemen and supporters
Date of the Incident: 31 December 2003
Place of Incident: Baddegama village in Madahapola in the Kurunegala District in the Gokarella Police Division
The four policemen in civilian clothes from the Gokarella Police Station came to the Baddegama village in Madahapola and sought information about illicit liquor. They approached two young men Ashoka Pradeep Kumara, 20, and Saman Puspakumar, 17, and asked, “Where do you find kasippu (illicit liquor)?” When they gave negative answer, the policemen severely assaulted the two and took them in the vehicle (No. 52-7089, white color), and later abandoned them. Ashoka Pradeep Kumara and Saman Puspakumar were hospitalized in the rural hospital at Polgolla. On the following day (1 January 2004) they were forcibly dismissed from the hospital. Saman Puspakumar was admitted to Kandy Hospital again on 6 January 2004. According to the doctor’s examination, Saman’s lower abdomen was damaged and he complained of dizziness due to blows on the head. The doctor had recorded his statement describing the torture by the police. Although Ashoka Pradeep Kumara had a same type of ailments, he did not go to hospital.
In the meantime, about 5:00 p.m. on 31 December, the mother of Saman Puspakumar, Ms. Pushpalatha, went to the Gokarella Police Station to lodge a complaint about the incident. When she met the Officer in Charge (OIC), Mr. Janaka Manapperuma, the OIC was not aware of this incident. At that moment, there were over 200 people at the police station having a year-end party. Most were policemen, retired policemen and their supporters. Most were also drunk. Also present was the Inspector of the Police (IP) Mr. Weeraratne, who is a suspect in a current murder case, allowed to remain in service because of political ties. Under the leadership of the IP, they rushed to the village.
These 200 policemen and supporters, who took three wheelers, Hiace vans and jeeps, surrounded the village and assaulted the village people with poles and cycle chains mercilessly. They went inside the only boutique and destroyed the shop and assaulted the people. The villagers could not resist because the policemen were armed with rifles. The OIC came later with the torture victim’s mother Ms. Puspalatha and saw what was happening, but he could not stop the assault.
Though many villagers were injured by the police attack, there are five persons below who were seriously injured.
1. Mr. R. M. Newton Ratnayaka, 29, disabled ex-army soldier with one-leg: He was at the boutique to buy a packet of milk powder for his child. The policemen put him on the ground and trampled on his stomach. When he told them that he was an ex-army officer, the policemen attacked him more brutally. He was arrested on that day and remanded in Kegalle Prisons until 8 January 2004.
2. Mr. W. P. Piyadasa, 70, the secretary of the Disappeared Mothers and Children of the Kurunegala District: The police dragged him on the ground and injured his knees and hands. He suffered serious wounds on his face.
3. Mr. Nilantha Kumar Rajapakse: Arrested on that day and admitted to the Kegalle Prison Hospital
4. Mr. Chaminda Sureshkumar, 18
5. Mr. U. N. Jayantha Premlal: Arrested on that day and admitted to the Kegalle Prison Hospital
Out of these five persons, the police arrested three persons and put them in police custody. They were produced at a magistrate and remanded until 8 January 2004. The police charged them with obstructing the police duty against illicit brewing. In fact, the people in the village have been conducting an anti-drug and anti-alcohol campaign. They had organized many activities to prevent thefts and other social problems in the village.
At night on 31 December, 25 villagers with the Chief Incumbent of the Buddhist temple went to the police station to ascertain the facts and to ask for the release of the arrested people. The police allowed only four people including the Buddhist monk to go inside the police station, and only the Buddhist monk could speak to the OIC. The OIC had told the monk that if he has any complaints against the police, he should refer the matter to the Assistant Superintendent of the Police (ASP), who had just arrived for a celebration party. However, the ASP told the police that he had come for a celebration, not to entertain complaints. Instead, the ASP promised the monk he would come to the village with two typewriters at 11:00 a.m. on the following day (1 January 2004) to inquire the incident. However, he did not keep his commitment. The villagers went to the police station again to lodge their complaint but the police did not take any action.
A five-member representative committee was formed in order to reporte the incident to the National Police Commission (NPC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Colombo. They also sent a letter to District Inspector General (DIG) Mr. Kurunegala. The Island, the local English newspaper published the article on 7 January 2004, reporting that the OIC threatened further assault to the villagers for informing the NPC and the NHRC. The people in the village fear of further brutality by the police.
Please send a letter, fax or email to the addresses below and express your concern regarding this serious case.
1. Hon. Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe
Cambridge Place, Colombo 7
Fax: +94 11 2 682905 / 575454
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Hon. Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan
Attorney General’s Department
Fax: +94 11 2 436 421
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya PC
Chairman National Police Commission
69-1 Ward Place, Colombo 7
Fax: +94 11 2 669 128 (need to ask to change to fax mode) / 691 926
Fax HOME: +94 11 2 674148
4. Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
No. 36, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
5. Mr. Theo C. van Boven
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9016
To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER
Re: Police attack on people in Baddegama village in Madahapola who campaigned against crime
Name of the victim: Ashoka Pradeep Kumara (20 years old), Saman Puspakumar (17 years old), Mr. R. M. Newton Ratnayaka (29 years old), Mr. W. P. Piyadasa (70 years old), Mr. Nilantha Kumar Rajapakse, Mr. Chaminda Sureshkumar, Mr. U. N. Jayantha Premlal, Mr. Samurdhi Niyamaka, and the village people in Baddegama, Madahapola
Alleged perpetrators: Inspector of the Police (IP) Mr. Weeraratne and around 200 people including several policemen from the Gokarella Police Station, retired policemen and supporters
Date of the Incident: 31 December 2003
Place of Incident: Baddegama village in Madahapola, the Kurunegala District in the Gokarella Police Division
I am so shocked to learn about the brutal attack by the policemen on the villagers in Baddegama village, Madahapola on 31 December 2003.
According to the information I have received, when the torture victim’s mother went to the Gokarella Police Station to lodge a complaint, about 200 drunken policemen and the supporters, who had gathered at the police station for a year-end celebration party, rushed to the village, and brutally attacked the villagers with poles and cycle chains. It is reported that many villagers suffered blows to the body and five persons were seriously wounded. The police have not received the complaint about the incident and even arrested three village members in charge of obstructing the police duty against illicit brewing, which is not true. More seriously, it is alleged that the OIC threatened further assault to the villagers, after they informed the incident to the National Police Commission (NPC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Colombo.
This incident provides clear evidence of the miserable situation which the Sri Lankan people have faced for a long time. When the people have a problem, they can not expect any justice from the police. On the contrary, the people have suffered from torture by the police.
I strongly urge you to order an immediate and thorough investigation of this case and punish the perpetrators as soon as possible. I also urge you to suspend the service of the policemen, who were involved in this attack, and provide full security to the victims and witnesses. I further request the Sri Lankan government to take strong action to eliminate torture by the police.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)