Politics & Current Affairs

Pressure mounts on Colombo to probe suspected poisoning of former militants

Sri Lanka government has been urged to investigate the mysterious deaths of over a hundred Tamil militants following their release from state detention.

The northern provincial council and  parliamentarians of the main opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA)  as well as some leftist politicians from the Sinhala majority south suspect that many former LTTE members who either surrendered to the military or were arrested have been administered with  a lethal substance and set free to meet an untimely death.

LTTE members in detention have to undergo a programme what the government calls as rehabilitation.

107 deaths

Many local and international rights bodies including the UN has recorded accounts of torture, rape and sexual violence in 'rehabilitation'.

Following the exposure  by the northern province health minister Dr T Satyalingam that 107 mysterious deaths of ex LTTE have been reported, the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) unanimously adopted a resolution on Monday (08) calling for a probe.

Some of the dead have been diagnosed of cancer, where the most high profile case has been of LTTE women's wing political leader Sivakami Subramaniam, popularly known as Thamilini.

The proposal was submitted by Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran.

Forcible injections

An ex combatant has earlier told a government appointed consultation body on reconciliation that he and several others were forcibly injected with a substance that he strongly believes to be poisonous.

"When I was in the LTTE I could  carry heavy weights and run. Now I am unable to lift even even ten kilograms," said SN Sahaevan testifying before the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanism (CTFSL) in the north eastern town of Oddusuddan.

Whilst participating in a demonstration in Colombo demanding the release of Tamil political prisoners Left wing politician Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne called upon the government to initiate an immediate probe into the suspicious deaths of released detainees.

"The so called good governence has a duty to investigate whether such a crime is committed against political prisoners," he said.

'Buddhist principles'

The defence establishment has vehemently denied the allegations.

"We are an army based on Buddhist principals that would never even poison an animal," Military Spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera told journalists in Colombo while Deputy Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardena rubbishing claims by TNA parliamentarian Sivagnanam Sritharan that the forcibly administered substance was carcinogenic as 'baseless'.

Cabinet Spokesman Dr Rajitha Senaratne however, told journalists on Tuesday (09) that the government has requested details to investigate the deaths.

Foreign experts

Nevertheless, expressing doubt on the governments intentions a top TNA politician called for international intervention in probing the deaths.

"We need them to be examined by a team of foreign experts as Sri Lankan government doctors could not be trusted,"  Suresh Premachandran told journalists in Colombo.

© JDS