Former Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran claims a torture chamber existed in Vara’ni in Jaffna.He made public photographs taken at the alleged torture chamber which shows blood stains on the walls. He said the chamber had barbed wire on the roof and blood stains on the walls and he had photographed everything but was not in a position to make it public, till now.Premachandran said that the UN Human Rights Council and the Government must ensure a proper investigation is conducted into the torture chambers operated by the military during and soon after the war. The former Parliamentarian said that he visited the camp as soon as the army shifted from the location and in one house he found a torture chamber. Premachandran said that the torture chamber was in an army camp which was later shifted to another location following public protests as the camp included several private homes taken over by the army. A UN team which visited Sri Lanka recently had revealed details of another torture chamber operated by the Navy in Trincomalee.Premachandran said that several torture chambers existed at several other locations as well, including in Mannar. (Colombo Gazette)
Since the conditions are not yet conducive for return, this agreement to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is being seen as a first and necessary step.Since August last year, some 700,000 mainly-Muslim Rohingya have fled Rakhine State, in majority-Buddhist Myanmar, for neighbouring Bangladesh. Most say they were fleeing violence and persecution, including a military campaign by Myanmar forces, which began in response to violent attacks by Rohingya insurgents.The agreement – reached by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Myanmar – will be officially signed within a week or so, with the exact date to be confirmed.Under the agreement, UNHCR and UNDP will be given access to Rakhine State, including to refugees’ places of origin and potential new settlement areas, that so far the UN has been unable to access since the violence escalated last August.The access, once effective, will allow UNHCR to assess local conditions and help the refugees to make informed decisions on voluntary return.The agreement will also allow the two UN agencies to carry out needs assessments in affected communities and strengthen the capacity of local authorities to support the voluntary repatriation process.The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State – a neutral and impartial body composed of six local experts and three international experts, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – has proposed concrete measures for improving the welfare of all people in Rakhine State.Its recommendations include establishing a clear and voluntary pathway to citizenship and ensuring freedom of movement for all people there, irrespective of religion, ethnicity or citizenship status.Meanwhile, the UN migration agency, known formally as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), is helping Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, properly prepare for the monsoon season, which is getting underway.Radios, megaphones, first aid kits, stretchers, protective clothing, warning flags and sirens are among the items being distributed to more than 500 Rohingya emergency volunteers in the largest camp there.With most of the refugees forced to live on steep and sandy slopes in low-lying hills, surveys by IOM and other agencies have found that around 200,000 people will be in serious danger from landslides and serious flooding when the worst monsoon weather arrives.