Devananda, Karuna deny WikiLeaks revelations

Recruiting child soldiers, carrying out killings, running brothels among charges
By Chris Kamalendran

Both EPDP Leader Minister Douglas Devananda and Deputy Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan yesterday strongly denied the allegations that paramilitary groups linked to them were allowed by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) to recruit child soldiers from IDP camps, carry out extra judicial killings and run brothels within Army camps, as revealed by WikiLeaks on Friday.

Minister Muralitharan said that the Sri Lanka Army is a much disciplined one and had never raped any women. He said if such atrocities were committed, they would have come to light by now. “I appeal to the Government to take up these matters with the US Government,” he added.

Meanwhile Minister Devananda denied allegations that his group smuggled underage boys to Malaysia as revealed in WikiLeaks. “If such acts were committed, people would have come before the LLRC and revealed them,” he said.

In the WikiLeaks cable dated May 18, 2007, Robert Blake, the then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka had reported that Karuna’s troops were allowed to go through shipments of food and supplies meant for IDP camps and take all which they needed and could sell before the leftovers were sent to the camps and despite the Government’s denial of any links with paramilitary groups, the Karuna faction and the EPDP have helped the Government to fight the LTTE, abduct and murder suspected LTTE collaborators and give the Government a measure of deniability in the eye of the international public.

“The GOSL, which denies any links to paramilitary groups, has recently touted its efforts to improve its human rights record, such as the re-publication of procedures on arrests and detentions and the appointment of a “One-Man Commission” to investigate reported disappearances. However, these efforts so far appear aimed more at improving Sri Lanka’s image abroad and have yet to produce concrete improvements in the human rights situation. Outside the capital, the incidence of human rights abuses has continued, including extrajudicial killings, abductions, child trafficking, extortion, and prostitution,” the cable attributed to Blake said.

It added that President Rajapaksa’s government, strapped for cash, has cut direct payments to paramilitaries initiated by former President Kumaratunga and instead turns a blind eye to extortion and kidnapping for ransom by the EPDP and the Karuna faction.

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