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‘Why is the UN silent?’ - Tamil Civil Society Forum demands response over disappearances

The Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) has called on the United Nations to respond to claims made by Sri Lanka’s president that thousands of forcibly disappeared and missing Tamils “are actually dead”.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa made the remarks to the United Nations’ resident co-ordinator Hanaa Singer, during a meeting earlier this month, sparking condemnation from Tamil families of the disappeared who have spent years searching for their loved ones.

“It is significant that President Rajapaksa chose his meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator to state his position on enforced disappearances,” said the TCSF. “The question then is what did the UN Resident Coordinator say in response?”

“The UN will be well reminded to reread the recommendations and conclusions of the Charles Petrie Report commissioned by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Writing about his 2012 report in 2014 Charles Petrie concluded that the systemic failure on the part of the UN was defined by ‘poor institutional reflexes and timidity’. It seems like nothing has changed in the UN. Even if late, we demand a response from the UN.”

The TCSF went on to demand Rajapaksa “divulge his sources and evidence that support this sweeping statement”.

It concluded,

“To all those who care about justice in Sri Lanka, we call for solidarity with the protesting mothers of the disappeared. The protest of the mothers is at the epicentre of the Tamil demand for accountability. Their struggle must be strengthened.”

See the full text of the statement here.

Responding to Rajapaksa earlier this week, the Co-ordinator for the protesting families of the disappeared in Mannar, Immanuel Uthyachandra, told reporters that the Sri Lankan government “must answer” their demands immediately.

“Children were taken away and disappeared during his time,” she said, referring to current Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. “If there are no missing relatives, he knows where they are. What happened to them? He knows what they did.”

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