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‘I have no one left’ - Vavuniya families of disappeared urge for international justice

The families of the disappeared staged a demonstration in Vavuniya urging for “international justice for their loved ones” and insisted they would only help elect politicians that will “solve all Tamil problems” in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The demonstration took place on Thursday, with protestors carrying placards and chanting slogans such as "Stop the military action against Tamils in the North-East" and “We will not stop searching for justice.”

A member of the Vavuniya families of the disappeared association, Jenitha Sivanandan said, “we hold protests on the 30th of every month demanding that the status of our loved ones is revealed. Politicians have failed to solve our problems. We are therefore protesting for international justice instead.”

“Today many people are speaking out against Tamil people and against Tamil nationalism. We are only ready to send those who will solve all the problems of the Tamil people to Parliament,” she added.

Sivanadan also questioned why protests are more strictly regulated in the North-East and why the courts have blocked protests from happening, despite following social distancing guidelines and getting approvals to stage protests. “The South have different rules to the North-East. It is not fair,” she said.  

She also emphasised that people are less naïve about election tactics. “Today they go door to door and asking each person to vote for them. They would not have had to go from each home to home if they have done their job properly.

The people know very well whom they want to be elected to be represented at parliament. Therefore, we urge all the people to support our fight for justice by voting for the right people.”

“I get asked demeaning questions and given condescending remarks by others when I go home after protesting every day. As soon as I step of the bus, people ask me why I am still protesting on the streets and whether I have any shame standing on the streets,” said one of the mothers whose son was forcibly disappeared by a ‘white van’ kidnapping in 2008. “My husband passed away as well and I stand here by myself not even wanting to live anymore. This is my last call for justice, I kindly urge them to give me answers. I have no one left.”

Another mother asked, “Would they give the same neglect to the missing people if this were to happen in the South? Why are the people in the North-East treated different? We trusted you and handed over our loved ones even though they had no role in the war.”

“This has consumed our life. Over the last decade we have no happiness. We are all compromised by health issues yet this is all we think about. These political parties say they will help us but they have done nothing to do so in the past years.”  

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