Families of the disappeared rallied across the North-East today to mark International Human Rights Day. Families demonstrated in districts across the Tamil homeland, supported by Tamil politicians and members of the public.
In Mullaitivu hundreds of protesters marched through the town demanding Sri Lanka's new president reveal the whereabouts of their disappeared loved ones. TNA MPs Shanthi Sriskandarajah and S Sivamohan, former NPC members T Ravikaran and M K Sivajilingam, and several local politicians also joined the march.
The families also sent a joint letter to the United Nations.
Today is the International Human Rights Day. But we are at the road side and struggling for the last 1024 days amidst scorching sun and pinching cold for the rescue of our loved ones. While our children are deprived of their right to live, we the parents are also deprived of our right to live with our children.
It is a common occurrence in Sri Lanka that the Tamil people are being made to forcibly disappear. We had handed over our loved ones to the Sri Lankan army after the cessation of war at Vanni in Sri Lanka in May 2009. Many others also surrendered themselves before the army voluntarily in our presence, and so many others had gone missing after being taken by the Sri Lankan soldiers and the intelligence groups while they were migrating to the safe zone via Omanthai check post in Vavuniya, and several others have gone missing while taking treatment at various hospitals in the army controlled areas.
All these atrocities took place while the current president of Sri Lanka was then Defence Secretary in Sri Lanka. We had handed over our loved ones believing the unreliable promise of the Sri Lanka Government and the security forces, that our loved ones would be released after rehabilitation, no matter that they were in the LTTE movement or they were employed in the LTTE agencies even at least one day.
It is our strong belief that our loved ones are detained in secret detention camps and that they are still alive, since they were handed over by us to the army only after the cessation of war in 2009. The person who was in charge for the military manoeuvre at the time when we handed over our loved ones has now become the President of Sri Lanka. Hence we believe that he may be aware of where our kids are detained. As such the International Community should give pressure to the new Sri Lankan President for the release of our loved ones.
The persons who were abducted by the military intelligence groups in white vans are also included in this disappearances category. There are eye witnesses to confirm these abductions.
We the mothers participating in the struggle are also panicked that we may also go missing after realizing past incidents. As a proof to our dangerous situation, the military interference and surveillance have now increased. The military intelligence personnel are very often interrogating our participant mothers while following us secretly and monitoring our daily activities. They visit our homes in odd times and carry out interrogation. They wantonly attack our District leaders and vanish. No action by the police even though we make entries at the respective police stations. Intimidation continues.
Until today we had lost 56 protesting mothers since we commenced our incessant struggle in February 20th 2017. At this present situation we are struggling to continue our protest. The UN had granted Sri Lanka time extension twice by 30/1 and 34/1 respectively to fulfil its commitments stated in the Resolution 30/1, overlooking objections raised by us not to grant time extension to Sri Lanka. Out of two years time extension granted in the year 2018 by resolution 34/1, already one year had elapsed and another one year is left remaining. But so far no progress achieved with regard to Resolution 30/1.
Moreover, the funds bestowed by many countries including the European Union, enabling the OMP to utilize this fund for the welfare of the suffering mothers, had not reached them. In the contrary it is being used to empower the OMP office and its staff only. OMP is just an organization which was established unilaterally overlooking the suggestions and desires of the war victims and a powerless mechanism which was already rejected by the affected Tamil people. Does the international community think that this powerless OMP could achieve anything successful to the suffering people by whom this OMP mechanism had already been ignored?
One of the Sri Lankan ministers had publically announced that he will nullify the UN resolution 30/1. At this stage how are the UN and the international community going to mete out justice to the suffering Tamils. The UN should take necessary action to mete out justice with the intervention of the international community without granting further time extension to Sri Lanka under any circumstances.
Families of the disappeared in Jaffna protested outside the Office for Missing Persons regional branch.
Families in Vavuniya who have continued their protest also rallied calling for justice.