Comparing alleged sexual violence in Sri Lanka and Canada by the Security Forces.
Posted on February 24th, 2013

by Gamvaesiya, Canada

Human Rights Watch (HRW) had published a `damning report’ on the disappearance of some 600 aboriginal women in Canada, as well as over 50 cases of sexual violence against women (along the `tears highway’) in the hands of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Previously, the RCMP as well as the local forces had come into much criticism regarding the disappearance of dozens of sex workers in the Vancouver area, with the police simply ignoring the matter. A frequently repeated allegation against the Police in Winnipeg is that they routinely `pick up’ aboriginal people (`Injuns’) in the city, and dump them far outside in a lonely road in the proverbial cold of Manitoba, ensuring that a `good Injun’ is a `dead Injun’, albeit frozen.

HRW has also turned its guns on Sri Lanka, perhaps timed for the up-coming UN-Geneva meeting. In a 140-page report issued on 22 Feb. 2013, it claims that the security forces, over a period of 7 years (2006-2013) had committed 75 acts of sexual violence against Tamils, and demands that the Sri Lankan Army be withdrawn from the North. However, HRW has not asked that the RCMP be withdrawn from the western provinces of Canada etc.

Clearly, it would be to the credit of HRW that it could objectively focus on such violations, be they in Canada or Sri Lanka. However, we need a yardstick to evaluate this type of data. For instance, in 2009 there were 67,7000 reported violent sexual assault cases in Canada, giving a 4% assaults figure on the female population (15 million) in Canada. Given that some 300,000 (~150,000 females) internally displaced people (IDPs) were handled by the Lankan army between 2009-2012, a typical expectation value, based on Canadian standards would lead us to statistically predict 600 cases in three years, and possibly a thousand n 7 years. Hence the number reported by HRW is extremely low. Far from chastising the Sri lankan armed forces, HRW should rise in approbation, or review its data.

In the in the United States, a recent exhaustive study (New York Times, Dec, 2011 and other reports) showed that 1 in every 5 women had been subject to sexual violence by the time they reached adulthood, and this increased to 1 in 3 if beating, groping, stalking, and other assaults were included. If sexual assault cases in the US-army community is considered, in 2011 alone over 900 cases (http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/annual-reports) are mentioned in the Department of Defense annual reports.

However, it should be noted that unlike in Canada or USA, the situation in Sri Lanka was very different as a war had prevailed. The behaviour of NATO forces under war situation as well as in non-war situations is well documented and very high incidence of sexual violence can be noted. The situations in Ruwanda and Bosnia are unparalleled.

Hence, the statistics revealed by HRW show that Sri Lanka under war conditions displayed a level of sexual violence far lower than is commonly found under peaceful conditions in Canada when the RCMP interacts with the public, or in the USA, among civilians or in the US defense community.

The Sri Lankan army has also been used as peace keepers by the UN in several locations all over the world, and their sexual violence statistics have been much lower than other comparable peace-keeping contingents.

Hence the HRW demand for the removal of the Armed forces from the North is utterly surprising, and it must be examined more carefully, since this is exactly the demand made by the pro-separatist Diaspora Tamils who funded the war in Sri Lanka. The continued presence of the Army in the troubled areas has been a difficulty for these groups to re-kindle the conflict that they had funded from Canada and USA for decades.

 Another group that is not happy with the presence of the Army in the North is the upper-caste landed aristocracy of Tamils.

They are mostly absantee land lords who live in Colombo, Toronto, New jersey and other locations.They are traditionalists  who regard most of the Vanni Tamils (the IDPs) as `low-caste’ untouchables who they believe should be re-settled in their traditional-caste hamlets. Their political party (TNA) has consistently called for re-settlement in the old caste-structured villages.

Instead, the army is engaged in civilian, agrarian, and mercantile rehabilitation work that uplifts the traditionally down-trodden lower castes (see the report by a `low-caste’ writer: Sebastian Rasalingam “www.island.lk/ index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=38768“, Army ‘Kadaigals’ in the North – Bane or Boon?, Island Newspaper, Nov-2011). Thus we see that the lower castes welcome the army since it does NOT practice caste discrimination.

Thus we see that HRW in its report on Sri Lanka, has completely misrepresented the facts in not establishing norms of judgment, and not being aware of the ground situation in Sri Lanka in regard to caste politics, LTTE-Diaspora politics and indeed, lacking in simple judgment or common sense.

One Response to “Comparing alleged sexual violence in Sri Lanka and Canada by the Security Forces.”

  1. Voice123 Says:

    Gamvasiya, you are a very brave person. I like your fighting spirit though. I hope you are getting backed up by other Sri Lankans. In my experience in the west, if you speak out against the LTTE or in favor of the SL armed forces or government to foreigners, some MODEYA will come and counteract what you say for their own personal benefit undermining all the hard work that you do. We need gumption and truth telling from Sri Lankans in the west, not this its only about me attitude. These MODEYAs in the west who undermine the truth for personal gain are TRAITORS. We all know how the LTTE diaspora treats traitors from the Tamil community. MODEYA traitors are lucky they are not getting treated as such.

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