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Tamil families of disappeared call on UN for 'special tribunal or to refer Sri Lanka to ICC'

The families of the disappeared sent a joint letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner, Ms.Michelle Bachelet, calling for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to recommend that Sri Lanka is investigated for their lack of fulfilment in providing answers for their missing loved ones.

It also addressed the "short comings and the inefficiency"  of the government-issued committee, Office on Missing Persons (OMP), as well as the Sri Lanka government's neglect to fulfil and enforce the Resolution 30/1. 

The letter was addressed to Ms Bachelet on International Women’s Day on Sunday 8th March, which marks three years of protests demanding the fate of their loved ones to be addressed.

The letter said;

“We the relatives of the enforced disappearances in the North and East of Sri Lanka who had been searching our loved ones more than eight years individually had merged ourselves as a union and commenced our incessant attention drawing struggle effective from 08 March 2017 .

Today we are stepping on the 4th year of the protest completing three years . Within the three years already 71 kith and kins of the disappeared who had been participating in our struggle had died without any answers for their grievances.

We had handed over our loved ones to the Sri Lankan army after the end of the war in 2009 May believing the fictitious promise of the Sri Lankan Government. More over many had surrendered in our presence on their own. Some were taken by the army for interrogation, and some were receiving treatment for the injurious sustained due to shelling attack. In addition some were abducted by the arm forces and the military intelligences by white vans during this period in the army controlled areas.

The former Sri Lankan president Mr.Mithripala Srisena had, promised to release the list of detainees but failed to do so. Since we knew that we will not be meted out with the fair justice from the Sri Lankan Government, we had commenced towards world’s nation invoking justice from them effective from 16.11.2017.

Consultation Task Force(CTF) constituted by the Sri Lanka government in accordance with the Resolution 30/1, by the UN in 2015. The UN also had failed to realize the fact as to how it is possible for the four mechanisms duly established by the Sri Lankan government, ignoring the recommendations of the CTF ,could mete out justice for the affected people.

We, the relatives of the enforced disappearances who participate at the UN sessions since March 2018 had been repeatedly pointing out the short comings and the inefficiency of the OMP at the forum. We had been continuously rebuffing this OMP totally. Notwithstanding, the UN had, while appreciating the powerless OMP, given  time extension to the Sri Lanka government in order to enforce these four mechanism. 

We had arranged a meeting with the OMP commissioners on the May17th 2019. In this meeting after elaborate discussion, we had reached an agreement and by which we will hand over details of five disappeared persons with concrete testimonies and the OMP should find solution  for at least one case, within three months time. But the OMP could not found solution till to date with no investigations carried out so far. At this stage the Chairman of the OMP Mr,Shaliya Peris released an official statement on the 3rd March 2020. Accordingly  they have released a list of disappearances on the 28th February 2020 while marking the OMP’s second anniversary and  recommended for a need to implement a mechanism a fresh with comprehensive mandate .The OMP had only now ,after two years time released the collected name list of the disappeared and realized the powerlessness of the OMP .

The Sri Lankan Government which had been prolonging five years time by co sponsoring to the UN resolution 30/1 had now trying to drag further time by enforcing internal mechanism and dilute the disappearance case. Hence the UN cannot mete out justice to the affected people by insisting Sri Lanka to enforce the Resolution 30/1.

We urge the UNHRC, to recommend the UN security council to refer Sri Lanka either to a special Tribunal or to the ICC without further delay.”

Earlier today on International Women’s Day, there were protests for the disappeared, with some demonstrators asking for international intervention and investigations to be initiated. In three years of protests, nearly 70 Tamils have died while in protest demanding that the government reveals the fate of their loved ones.

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