Families of the disappeared in Vavuniya paid tribute to a Tamil political prisoner who passed away after 26 years of imprisonment, as they marked over 1,050 days of protest last week.
Sellapillai Mahendran was arrested as a teenager during a round-up in Batticaloa on September 27, 1993. He passed away last week after 26 years of imprisonment, based on a false confession produced following a month of torture in detention.
In the early years of his imprisonment, Mahendran’s parents visited him, but after their deaths, he had received no visits in prison except from politicians.
Many families of the disappeared in Vavuniya believe that their children are also being held in Sri Lanka prisons across the island. As they lit candles to pay tribute to the political prisoner, they expressed hopes that one day they may be reunited with their disappeared loved ones.
"We want to hold our families in our hands before they die,” said one protestor.