Deported to Torture: UK Shame Over Tamil Refugees
The British government is continuing to deport Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka despite more evidence emerging that some of those removed are being tortured.
As I reported last year, there is a wealth of evidence that Sri Lankan authorities continue to practice torture on political opponents. Yet British authorities have insisted that the country is safe and hundreds of those fleeing the country have been returned.
Now the Guardian reports on a man who was arrested six months after he was deported. He was beaten with rods, had petrol-filled plastic bags put over his face and was hung by his feet with a nylon rope. The man whose real name is not reported for fear of retribution shows his back, which has a welter of scars. The Guardian has seen medical reports supporting his claims. He had originally fled after being tortured.
He managed to escape through bribery and then made his way back to the UK via Russia and is now filing a second claim for asylum. He said:
I believed that the UK authorities would consider my case reasonably but, regardless of all my history and the evidence, they sent me back and I had to suffer again.
Human Rights Watch reported at the end of May on a further 13 cases it had found of returned Tamils who have been tortured.
One was detained at the airport:
I was beaten up and tortured. My head was banged against the wall. I was suspended upside down and burnt with cigarettes. I was handcuffed and shackled throughout and beaten with various objects. My interrogators accused me of being an LTTE agent and tried to suffocate me with a petrol-infused plastic bag.
It reports on a woman who managed to make her way back to Britain in late 2010 after having been deported. She had been tortured and raped after her forcible return to Sri Lanka.
Human Rights Watch says many of those deported are questioned on arrival about their political activities in the UK, a factor which UK authorities do not take into account. There are also numerous accounts of ‘disappearances’ of those returning to Sri Lanka, whether forced or voluntary.
Human Rights Watch and Freedom from Torture have called on the government to halt further removals and undertake a serious policy review. Channel Four reports that the British government does not monitor the fate of those it forcibly returns. Channel Four says that many of those returned last week were followed by Sri Lankan Intelligence officers after leaving the airport.
Sri Lanka’s head of state, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had tea with the Queen as part of the Jubilee celebrations on Wednesday — but was forced to cancel a speech due to protesters.
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