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‘We are not protesting for compensation, we are protesting for justice’ - Tamil families of the disappeared react to Sri Lanka's budget

The families of forcibly disappeared Tamils have reacted to the recent announcement that 300 million rupees from Sri Lanka's national budget will be allocated “to do justice” to the families.

The president of the Organisation of Families of the Disappeared in Mullaitivu said that the families are not looking for any solatia or the death certificate of the disappeared members, but are instead demanding to know the whereabouts of their loved ones.

“We are looking for those who were taken away on white vans, those abducted in the sea and those who were forcibly dragged away from inside their house,” she said.

The president also emphasised that the issue of the disappeared can only be adequately resolved through the intervention of the international community for domestic efforts have always been a failure.

She alleged that the move to offer compensation to the families of the disappeared amounts to a “plot” to neuter the demands of the protesters. 

“We do not protest for finance, we protest for justice,” she added.

Prabhakaran Ranjana, a member of the organisation, also said that the announcement of 300 million rupees as compensation is a stunt by the Sri Lankan government to please the international community.

Addressing the prospect of a visit by Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the families of the disappeared, Ranjana stated that the organisation has no interest in meeting the President. “We have tried to meet him for twelve years, what is he going to say to us if he meets us now? He is only going to say he will offer compensation,” she said. 

The organisation members are steadfast in their demand that the Sri Lankan government release the whereabouts of their disappeared family members. They have also been displaying reluctance to accept any form of monetary compensation in return for their abandonment of the movement.  

Tamil families of the disappeared have been protesting across the North-East, demanding to know the whereabouts of their forcibly disappeared loved ones.

When the families began their roadside protests in 2017, they set out a list of demands which have still not been met by the state. Over 80 parents have died without ever knowing what happened to their disappeared relatives or before those responsible were brought to justice.


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