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No answers, no justice - Vavuniya families of the disappeared mark 5 years of roadside protests

Tamil families of the disappeared marked five years since they began their roadside protests demanding to know the fate of their forcibly disappeared loved ones. 

Yesterday marked five years - 1,833 days - since the families began their campaign for justice in 2017. 

Many of the families witnessed their relatives being taken into Sri Lankan military custody at the end of the armed conflict or they were abducted in white vans. 

Throughout their protest, Tamil families have maintained simple demands: 

1. Release a list of surrendees from the final phase of the armed conflict;

2. Release the yearly lists of detainees under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) since 1978;

3. Investigate and release the list of all past and present secret detention centres;

4. Continuously consult families to keep them at the centre of any solution; and

5. Commence all four transitional justice mechanisms in tandem, including a justice mechanism.


Although the families have been searching for justice, successive Sri Lankan governments have failed to address the fate of their disappeared loved ones, even after establishing the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in 2017. Tamil families have repeatedly rejected domestic mechanisms as they have failed to meet any of the demands outlined by the families. 

Over 100 parents have died without knowing the truth about their disappeared children. Although many of the relatives are elderly and vulnerable and face routine harassment from the Sri Lankan authorities, they continue their struggle for justice and accountability. 


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