Tamil families of the disappeared met with Switzerland's Federal Councillor for the Department of Justice and Police and criticised the Sri Lankan government’s Office of Missing Persons (OMP) as an “exercise in futility”, demanding “action, not words”.
In a letter handed to the Swiss Justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga, the protesting families said they had “travelled across the country to every military camp, every government prison, every police station” to search for the whereabouts of their disappeared loved ones.
At least eight of the campaigners have died since roadside protests began over 500 days ago.
Despite meeting with the Sri Lankan president on three different occasions and expressing their concerns regarding the OMP, they noted that their requests “have not been taken on board”.
“Given that our concerns have not been addressed and given that the President has failed to deliver his promises in relation to releasing the lists we are left with no option but to conclude that the OMP will be an exercise in futility,” the letter added.
“The OMP’s composition is riddled with contradictions,” it says. “Be that as it may, for us to trust the OMP despite all of this we need to see action, not words, not more offices.”
“We cannot be asked to repose blind trust on the OMP just because some actors locally and internationally want to show goodwill to the incumbent Government. We cannot be asked to throw ourselves, beg and kneel for justice before any commission or office the Government establishes. We have done enough of that. The burden is not on us to show bona fides. It is on the OMP.”
The letter concludes to state that “ever since this Government was voted into power the International Community have asked us to support its half-baked initiatives”.
“The burden has shifted from the Government to us, the victim community to demonstrate that we are willing to work towards solutions. We are being continuously accused of lacking self-agency. This is adding injury to insult. No one – no political party, or organisation internal or external to Sri Lanka asked us to take the protests to the roads. That was our own decision. We decide our own future.”
“If we are trust any more of Sri Lankan Government’s commissions and offices, we say show us by decisive action not by more of these commissions.”
Read the full text of the letter here.