Human rights organisations from three different continents have released a statement to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances expressing solidarity with victims of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka and condemning threats and intimidation against relatives of the disappeared.
Ram Kumar Bhandari, Founder and President of the National Network of the Families of the Disappeared and Missing Nepal (NEFAD), People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) in the USA and the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice in the UK said this day “is felt in few places as acutely as Sri Lanka, where it is estimated that there are currently 60,000 to 100,000 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances – most of which were perpetrated by the state”.
The statement went on to honour “the extraordinary struggle of those Tamil relatives of the disappeared who have been protesting, largely continuously, for the past year-and-a-half at various makeshift sites across the North and East of Sri Lanka”.
It also highlighted “serious ongoing concerns over the design and composition” of the Sri Lankan government’s Office on Missing Persons (OMP).
“It is incumbent upon the OMP’s officers to ensure that the mechanism initiates its tracing work forthwith and that it begins to deliver on that work within months rather than years. Moreover, it is essential that the OMP’s officers persistently and publicly confront state institutions as they proceed with their investigations – including as regards requesting information from the military – and that they resist any attempts by those in power to dilute and obstruct their work.”
The statement concluded by condemning “recent threats and intimidation against relatives of the disappeared”. Referring to an attack a female Tamil activist in the East last month, the organisations said they “condemn absolutely what appears to be a reprisal attack, and a chilling attempt to silence the mothers of the disappeared in their search for truth and justice”.
See the full text of the letter here.