Using science and medicine to stop human rights violations
Orwellian World for Sri Lankan Doctors
Yesterday Physicians for Human Rights welcomed the release of four doctors in Sri Lanka whom police authorities had detained incommunicado for the past three months. ?After posting a king's ransom of one million rupees ($8,800), each was allowed to return to Vavuniya, where they are confined until their November 9 hearing.The doctors face trumped-up charges of providing international media with "false information" on civilian deaths during the Sri Lankan Army's final assault against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) earlier this year.No matter that the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations have both confirmed a civilian death toll of at least several thousand during the last weeks of the civil war. No matter that the American Association for the Advancement of Sceince (AAAS) has published satellite images convincingly showing bombed IDP camps and field hospitals---egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions.Instead of relying on such objective data confirming the doctors' eyewitness accounts,?Sri Lankan authorities would have us believe they were lying. ?To carry out this charade, the Defense Ministry orchestrated a press conference on July 8 and brought out the doctors who "confessed" to false and exaggerated reports under pressure from the LTTE.Sri Lanka's police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is notorious for extracting coerced confessions, so this outcome should not surprise anyone. ?But?I worry for their safety and well-being because they can easily become "unpersons" just like in Orwell's 1984.
Places: Sri Lanka