Doctor’s traumatised husband home and safe after kidnapping
IT WAS the emergency that Sydney doctor Champa Somaratna never wanted to face – the abduction and torture of her own husband.
But that was exactly what confronted the Ryde Hospital emergency physician who was last week forced to take time off to treat the “serious psychological trauma” her husband sustained after apparently being held hostage by government forces in his homeland Sri Lanka.
“I’ll go back to work but I don’t know when,” an emotional Dr Somaratna told MO from her home in Dural in Sydney’s north-west. “I need a little bit of time to help him get recovered.”
Her political activist husband, Sri Lankan-Australian citizen Premakumar Gunaratnam, disappeared earlier this month near the Sri Lankan capital Colombo where he was understood to be preparing to launch an anti-government Marxist party. He reappeared several days later and returned home, telling Australian media he was taken by security forces at gunpoint, blindfolded, tied up and sexually tortured. The Sri Lankan government has denied responsibility.
Dr Somaratna told MO she felt “unbelievable, indescribable” relief at her husband’s return but his mental state was so bad she could not attend work until he was better.
“The psychological trauma is very serious, he’s very depressed and he’s very upset,” she said.
She added he was also suffering physical trauma as a result of his treatment but this was less serious, adding she was thankful to the Australian government as “without their support probably he wouldn’t be here”.
Mr Gunaratnam said he was unable to discuss his ordeal at length, but told reporters he believed he would have been killed were it not for pressure on the Sri Lankan government from the Australian High Commissioner and human rights groups.