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20 May, 2009

Concern over fate of three Tamil doctors in Sri Lanka

The following is a statement from Amnesty International forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong:

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of three government doctors who had been working in the conflict zone in North eastern Sri Lanka until 15 May.
Dr T. Sathiyamoorthy, Dr T. Varatharajah and Dr. Shanmugarajah were treating the sick and wounded until they reportedly travelled out of the ‘No Fire Zone’ with approximately 5,000 other civilians.

According to reports received by Amnesty International, Dr. Shanmugarajah and Dr. Sathiyamoorthy, the regional director of health services in Kilinochchi, may be currently held at the Terrorist Investigation Division (T.I.D) in Colombo. However, a detention order has not yet been issued so their relatives remain unsure of their whereabouts and they do not have access to a lawyer. Dr T. Varatharajah, the regional director of health services in Mullaitivu, was seriously injured and is reported to have been airlifted from the Omanthai crossing point to an unknown destination by the Sri Lankan Air Forces (SLAF).

According to reports, the three doctors were last seen on the morning of May 15 at a holding area at Omanthai checking point.

Amnesty International fears that they may be held in reprisal for providing information about civilians in the conflict zone. The doctors provided eyewitness reports to the media and the international community from hospitals and makeshift medical centres in the conflict zone. Their reports detailed the suffering of ordinary civilians, many of whom died from war-related injuries. Their reports also highlighted continuous shelling of areas with large concentrations of non-combatants.

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