SRI LANKA: torture, gang rape, sexual assault in custody


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-11-2001
ISSUES: Sexual violence, Torture,


11 April 2001


UA-11-2001: Pregnant woman raped and tortured by Navy, Police

SRI LANKA – torture, gang rape, sexual assault in custody


A Sri Lankan judge has recently ordered the arrest of four members of the security forces (three policemen and one naval officer) for the following gang rape/torture case. The two women victims are currently taking refuge at the Bishop’s residence and there are also fears for the safety of the main witness in the case. This is now the time to act to ensure that the investigation is independent and transparent, that all of the perpetrators are arrested quickly and followed through to prosecutions using the full force of the law. Many members of security forces in Sri Lanka are allowed to go free for horrendous crimes such as this because pressure eases once arrests are made. Please apply pressure now by reading the following information and sending letters as suggested below.


The rape of a pregnant woman, Wigikala Nathakumar 22 yrs, (already with one child) and Sivamani Arjunan 24 yrs, a mother of three children, are the latest in a series of brutal torture incidents at the hands of the Navy and police on the island of Mannar, Sri Lanka. The two young women were arrested by about ten Navy/Police personnel who entered the private Lodge at Uppukulam, Mannar where they were staying at 10.30pm on the 19th of March 2001 and took them away in a white van to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), Mannar, where they were repeatedly raped and tortured by the officers. Following is a quote from Ms. Sivamani, describing part of the incident:

\”Two men then pinned me down on the van’s floor while another stripped me and raped me. I was screaming and pleading when a Policeman put his foot on my mouth to stifle me. Inside the building they forced Wigikala, who was standing naked, to strip my underwear. I was hung upside down in a knot from a pole placed between two tables, with my hands and feet tied. Then the men in the room poked our genitals and tortured us until dawn\”.

[You may proceed to the SUGGESTED ACTION below at this point]

The following is from a report by the Catholic Bishop of Mannar who has submitted this report to the Navy. Please read the report and respond to this horrific and inhuman treatment as suggested below:

by the Catholic Bishop of Mannar, 30th March 2001

This is a report of Navy brutalities in the island of Mannar brought to my notice in the month of March 2001. All my efforts to get the Navy to respect the basic human rights of our people so affected by the prolonged war are proving futile. Their attrocities are growing bad to worse daily and I have again appealed to the Commander General of the Sri Lankan Navy for redress in the name of the civil public of Mannar

On the 19th of March 2001, about ten Navy personnel entered a private Lodge at Uppukulam, Mannar at 10.30 night and arrested two ladies, by name Wigikala Nathakumar 22 yrs, an expectant mother already with one child and Sivamani Arjunan 24 yrs, a mother of three children. They had been living in the Refugee camps in Vavuniya and had come to Mannar on their private business. On the way they started to make sexual advances on these helpless females and on arrival at the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), Mannar at 11.30 night, Wigikala was taken in and along with some Navy personnel, some SIU personnel joined up in a room and forcefully stripped her naked, tied her hands and laid her on a table and sexually assaulted her in ways so inhuman and so brutal. Consequently, two of these men brutally raped her repeatedly.

In the meanwhile, Sivamani who was kept in the vehicle used by the Navy (a white Van) had been made naked by the Navy and sexually molested by them and one of them blindfolded her with his stocking.The diver of the vehicle was holding both her hands behind and a Navy man forcefully raped her. After a while Sivamani was also taken with her dresses on, to the above room and was forcibly stripped naked again and in a brutal way sexually assaulted by all present in the room while rest of the Navy personnel were peeping into this sex-torture room through the openings on the walls. Their cries could only be heard by the detainee at the SIU. When they, in tears related their trauma to me on my visit to them in the company of a nun in the prison lock-up in Mannar on the 27th inst., they told me that they will identify most of these criminals and they mentioned frequently the names of one Raja (a Tamil speaking one) and of one Wimal of the SIU who were mercilessly extra brutal to them. They also said that the person whom they came to know as the OIC of the SIU was also taking part in this brutality.

These victims then, were threatened with further torture and were forced to sign a statement to say that they were from the LTTE. Three days later they were taken to the DMO, Mannar. These victims were told by the SIU that they will be killed if they revealed anything to the DMO. The helpless victims told the DMO out of fear, being in the presence of the SIU, that they had no complaints to make and they were briskly taken away by the SIU. This is how the medical examination of these poor victims was made to end up. The victims were taken befor the Mannar Magistrate by the SIU only on the 27th 6.30 pm. On my appeal to the Magistrate and to the DPDHS, Mannar in the name of the public, a fresh medical examination of these two unfortunate victims had been undertaken by the DMO, Mannar on 30.03.2001.

[The Bishop goes on to describe the 13th of March torture of fishermen by the Navy at Thalaimannar; the strangulation of Mr.Kandaiah Uthayakumar of Chavakadu, Mannar aged 42, father of seven children; and forced collection of fish from the meagre catches of Mannar fishermen.]


Act now to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Please write to the Naval Commander-General and the Attorney-General of Sri Lanka to call on them to expedite the arrest, trial and prosecution of all persons involved in the torture and rape of these two women, to protect the victims and witnesses and to investigate the other reliable human rights allegations against naval officers in Mannar. Sample letter and fax numbers are provided below.



To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Commander Adm. Sandagiri

Hon. Attorney-General

Dear Sirs

One of the most shocking cases of custodial torture and rape possible has come to my attention. The victims were Wigikala Nathakumar 22 yrs, an expectant mother already with one child and Sivamani Arjunan 24 yrs, a mother of three children. The perpetrators were from the Sri Lankan navy and police force posted in Mannar Island. At around 10.30pm on the 19th of March 2001, about ten Navy/police personnel entered a private Lodge at Uppukulam, Mannar and arrested the two women. They then took them to the Special Invetigation Unit (SIU) in Mannar where they were stripped, tied up, molested, assaulted and repeatedly raped by members of the navy and police.

Surely the case of these two young mothers, one pregnant, brutalised by persons representing the Sri Lankan government, warrants the swiftest and sternest attention on your part. The violators must be arrested, prosecuted and sentenced under the 1994 Convention Against Torture Act of Sri Lanka and other relevant acts. Anything less than the speediest and fullest application of this law would be a further blow to these women and the many others (including the fishermen of Mannar) who have suffered at the hands of these rogue members of your security personnel.

I understand that the judge in Mannar, hearing the flimsy cases against the women, has ordered the arrest of three policemen and one naval officer over this case. The world will be watching to see that these persons, and any others connected with this brutality, are arrested immediately and prosecuted with the full force of the law. I also urge you to immediately act to ensure the safety of the two women victims, who are taking refuge at the Bishop’s house, and to also protect the main witness in the case, who is also in danger. An independent, transparent and expedient investigation and prosecution process is vital to the just resolution of this inhumane incident.

yours sincerely


CC: President of Sri Lanka

Minister for Justice

UN Speical Rapporteur on Torture


Commander Adm. DWK Sandagiri

Commander-General, Sri Lankan Navy

Sri Lankan Navy Headquarters

PO Box 593

Colombo 1


FAX: +(941) 433 893 (or 445 376 for faxes from Colombo)

Hon. Mr. KC Kamalasabesan


Attorney-General’s Department

Colombo 12


FAX: +(941) 436 421


Mr. Batty Weerakoon

Committee to Inquire into Unlawful Arrests and Harassments

and Minister for Justice

Sri Lanka

FAX: +(941) 323 730

Dear Minister Weerakoon

Her Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga

Presidential Residence

Colombo 3


FAX: +(941) 333 703

SALUTATION: Your Excellency

Sir Nigel RODLEY

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture


8-14 Avenue de la Paix

1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Fax Number (41-22) 917-9016

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-11-2001
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Sexual violence, Torture,