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Tamil families of the disappeared mark International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances across North-East

Tamil families of the disappeared rallied across the North-East today to mark the International Day of the Disappeared and demand to know the fate of their forcibly disappeared loved ones. 


In Batticaloa, protestors marched from Kallady bridge to Gandhi park, where the organisers listed out their demands. The leader of the Batticaloa chapter of the families of the disappeared, Amalaraj Amalanayaki led the march and protest. The chapters of the families of the disappeared from Amparai and Trincomalee joined the protest.

In Mannar,  the families of the disappeared marched from the Sathosa mass grave site. They carried black flags and photographs of their missing loved ones, chanting slogans demanding justice for the families whose relatives have been forcibly disappeared. Their purpose was to shed light on the state's lack of political will to resolve the thousands of disappearance cases across the island.

In a concurrent effort, the Vavuniya chapter of the families of the disappeared held a press conference after their protest. The spokesperson for the chapter expressed their frustration over the sparse information provided by state officials. While they were informed that ten victims had been identified, no further details were made available.

They reiterated that over 30,000 people suffered this fate during and after the armed conflict and the state’s reliance on the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to suppress dissent within the Tamil community and to instil fear, which has added to the trauma.

Amidst these challenges, the families of the disappeared welcomed the efforts of Ambassador Julie Chung of the United States to Sri Lanka to advocate for their demands. However, they stress the need for broader support from Tamil politicians and the public, urging the US, the UK, and the European Union to intervene and help secure justice for the victims of enforced disappearances.

Tamil families of the disappeared having been protesting across the North-East since February 2017 in an effort to find out the truth about their loved ones who have been forcibly disappeared at the hands of the Sri Lankan state. Many of those who were forcibly disappeared, were handed over to the state's security forces at the end of the armed conflict in May 2009. To this day, Sri Lanka has failed to investigate the disappearances and provide answers to the families. 

The families have called for an international accountability mechanism as domestic mechanisms, such as the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) are flawed and have failed to fully investigate the disappearances. Despite multiple ledges from successive governments, the fate of the forcibly disappeared remains unknown. 

Since the families began their campaign for justice, over 180 parents have passed away without knowing the fate of their relatives. 



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