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‘It’s been 12 years, when will my father come back?’ – Daughter of forcibly disappeared ex-LTTE member

The daughter of a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) member who was forcibly disappeared during the end of the armed conflict, speaks to Tamil Guardian about how difficult it has been to live without her father for the past 12 years.   

Tamilnila (name changed on request) was born during the final stages of the armed conflict in 2009 and was separated from her father before she got a chance to meet him.  

Tamilnila’s father, who was a media wing member of LTTE, has been missing since he was forcibly disappeared on May 18, 2009. On that day he surrendered in Vattuvakal, Mullaitivu after Bishop Francis Joseph, called for hundreds of LTTE cadres and high ranking LTTE officials to surrender to the Sri Lankan military. However, alongside Bishop Francis Joseph, Tamilnila’s father was among the hundreds of LTTE cadres who surrendered that have not returned since.

“Where has my father been for the past 12 years? When will he return?,” asks Tamilnila. The 12-year-old grieves about the absence of her father and the hundreds of other children in the same position as her, not knowing the whereabouts of their relatives who surrendered.

“I am in seventh grade and I like to play Badminton with friends at school. My dream in the future is to become a doctor. My mum always tells me that if I study and become a doctor, my dad will return and see me as a doctor. I have two brothers who live with me and my mother. They are very caring towards me and whenever I miss my father they reassure me that he will return. I have never seen my father. I wonder often where my dad is and ask my mum. I have only seen my father through photos. My mum said that my dad surrendered to the [Sri Lankan] army in Mullivaikkal when I was just two months old."

He has been missing since 2009. Sometimes when I am coming back from school, I would think how lucky I would be if he is waiting for me at home. I am told stories that my father would help my brothers with schoolwork and I think a lot about how happy I could be if he was able to teach me too. I wish and think a lot about going to so many places with my dad.”

“My classmates would get dropped off by their fathers and sometimes I wish that could be me. They tell me that their father bought them compasses and geometry sets which makes me think if my father was with me, he would buy me those things too. If someone new comes to the house, I immediately think what if it is my father?

My mum constantly reassures me that my father will come back and that the people he surrendered to will release him. She tells me not to worry but I am still waiting for my father but he still has not returned home…” 

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