LONDON -- One of the men tortured in Sri Lanka said he was held for 21 days in a small dank room where he was raped 12 times, burned with cigarettes, beaten with iron rods and hung upside-down. Another man described being abducted from home by five men, driven to a prison, and taken to a "torture room" equipped with ropes, iron rods, a bench and buckets of water. There were blood splatters on the wall. A third man described the prisoners as growing accustomed to the sound of screaming. Raped, branded or beaten repeatedly, more than 50 men from the Tamil ethnic minority seeking political asylum in Europe say they were abducted and tortured under Sri Lanka's current government. The previously unpublished accounts conjure images of the country's bloody civil war that ended in -- not the palm-fringed paradise portrayed by the government. One by one, the men agreed to tell their stories to The Associated Press and to have the extensive scars on their legs, chests and groins photographed in July and August. The AP reviewed 32 medical and psychological evaluations and conducted interviews with 20 men. The strangers say they were accused of trying to revive a rebel group on the losing side of the civil war.
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Sri Lankan police have arrested three men who bared their behinds at a sacred site and shared the photographic evidence on social media. Foreigners who posted similar photos on social media were not arrested, prompting some social media commenters to say that only those with "brown bums" were being punished. The arrests followed a complaint by a Buddhist monk who said the photos, taken within view of the Unesco-listed Sigiriya rock fortress, are a religious insult. The photos taken by foreign tourists were posted on the Cheeky Exploits Instagram page, where people share pictures of bare backsides in locations around the world. The three men are not the first to attract ire for sharing semi or completely nude pics at a site with religious or cultural significance. Two American sisters were arrested in Cambodia in for taking nude photos of each other at Angkor Wat temple, which holds spiritual and historical significance for locals. That same year, a group of Western tourists were jailed in Malaysia after posing for naked photos on Mt Kinabalu, which locals consider sacred. Indigenous tribes blamed the tourists for a deadly earthquake which occurred shortly afterwards. When the earthquake happened, it's like a confirmation of our beliefs. Much as the television altered the family dynamic, focusing individuals' attention on it rather than each other, Kramer said social media is changing the way we think about ourselves and others.
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We hold power to account - sparking criminal investigations and exposing abuses. Help us do more. This article is based on discussions around cyber exploitation with students, parents and teachers in rural and urban Sri Lanka, grappling with the motivations for sharing naked pictures and videos. The list of search results found on Google. What makes a young girl stand naked in front of her mirror, point her smartphone at it, and take a picture? What makes a young man, who receives this picture, share it with his friends on WhatsApp, perhaps even sell it to a website that specializes in girlfriend pornography? Since May , when a group of 70 girls from different schools in Colombo approached us at the Grassrooted Trust about being blackmailed because of naked pictures and videos they had shared with their boyfriends, our engagement with cyber exploitation and violence has been characterized by three surprises.