Sarosh Syed (Sri Lanka)

Sarosh Syed (Home for Human Rights – HHR – Sri Lanka): Sarosh is from Karachi, Pakistan. He moved to the United States in 1995 to attend Northwestern University where he received a BA in Math and Art History. After graduating from NU, Sarosh went to work for the software industry specializing in language translation and localization software. After a brief stint of traveling in Europe, he turned to the non-profit world. He worked with environmental organizations such as Conservation International, the Public Interest Research Group and social justice organizations such as the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union. Most of his Ngo work concerned marketing and communications. At the time of his fellowship, Sarosh was studying for a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree at Georgetown University.

Trees Falling in a Forest

23 Jun

Natural disasters like the tsunami are hard to ignore (although, the headlines about Michael JacksonТs acquittal seem to indicate that much of the world is up to the challenge.) But Sri Lanka is rife with staggering tragedies of less spectacular proportions that the world will never hear about.

I began collecting content for HHRТs web site this week.

Going through files from HHRТs Torture Victim Rehabilitation Program, I read about a 21-year-old woman that Sri Lankan authorities arrested, beat, and stomped on. One morning, they threw her in a dark room where twelve police officers took turns raping her. They doused her eyes in hot sauce, and raped her again.

I read about a 19-year-old arrested as an LTTE suspect. His captors beat him for days until he was unable to walk. They covered him with cigarette burns and suffocated him in a plastic bag soaked in petrol and hot sauce. When this treatment did not produce a false confession, they hung him upside down by his thumbs and big toes. He tolerated this treatment for three years.

I read about a 47-year-old widow, a mother of four, that the army arrested and beat for days. After countless days of captivity, they took her out to the beach and raped her for five hours. They strapped her hands to a door frame and slammed the door on her fingers until her wedding ring broke off. By the end of her four-year incarceration, she could not find her way home or recognize her own daughters.

These are only three of the dozens of horrific stories I had to read. HHR has hundreds more. There may be thousands that HHR has never heard about. These innumerable trees continue to fall in the proverbial forest, and the world never notices the difference.

With even as epic a disaster as the tsunami fading from the worldТs attention, it is hard to hope that these silent tragedies will ever receive their deserved attention.

Posted By Sarosh Syed (Sri Lanka)

Posted Jun 23rd, 2005

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