What the Families of the Disappeared Want

by K. Guruparan tweet, June 12, 2017

Demands put forward by the reps of the families of the disappeared to Pres. Sirisena during his visit to Jaffna on June 11, 2017

1. Release a list of all those who surrendered or were detained by the Sri Lankan Armed forces during and after the war, and in particular during the last stages of the war (latter part of 2008-2009).  such detention/surrender took place at a number of exit points from LTTE-controlled areas to Sri Lankan Army-controlled areas throughout the last stages of the war but mostly over the last few days of the war in May 2009.  These lists should be available with the different divisions of the armed forces in charge of the exit points.  The Government should collate this information intelligently and make them available to us to find out whether any of our loved ones are on such lists.

2. Release a list of all secret detention centres run by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces/Police throughout the war and after the war, their current status and an annual list of detainees held in such detention centres throughout the war and after the end of the war.

3. Release a list of all detainees being held under the PTA/Emergency Regulation or unlawfully in any legal detention centre in Sri Lanka.  Release a list of detainees held in these legal detention centres/remand prisons/prisons annually from 1983 onwards.

4. The Government must release these lists to a representative group of families of the disappeared, their lawyers and any representatives that they authorize.

5. Release in the public domain all reports of committees/commissions on the subject of disappearances appointed by various Governments over the past 30 years, and this Government’s response to those reports.


President Sirisena promises families of the disappeared that lists of forcibly disappeared will be released

by Tamil Guardian, London, June 12, 2017

On Monday, in a meeting in Jaffna, President Maithripala Sirisena promised families of the disappeared that he would issue directives to the National Security Council the following day to release lists of surrendees, detainees, and political prisoners that families were demanding. The meeting between representatives of families of the disappeared from across all eight districts of the North-East and President Sirisena was arranged as a result of demands by the families at demonstrations on the 100th day of their Kilinochchi protest on May 30.

Also in attendance at the meeting representing the government were: Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Health, Rajitha Seniratne, Northern Province Minister of Health Sathyalingam, Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara, and the SLFP General Secretary, Duminda Dissanayake.

The representatives of the families of the disappeared were accompanied by a few Tamil civil society activists.

During the meeting, families started by setting out their objectives and the history of their struggle, and then raised the issue of releasing the lists of those surrendered and detained during and after the war, as well as lists of political prisoners and secret detention centres. Families handed over a memo (click here) laying out 5 key demands which included: (1) releasing a list of all those who surrendered or were detained by the Sri Lankan armed forces during and after the war, particularly during the last phase; (2) releasing a list of all secret detention centres, their status and list of detainees; (3) releasing a list of all detainees held under the PTA and detainees held in detention centres; (4) releasing these lists to representatives from the families of the disappeared; and (5) releasing in public all reports by commissions appointed over the years to address the issue of disappearances and the Government’s response to those reports.

President Sirisena told families that he could deliver on all of the demands in the petition, and specifically told families that he would issue directives to the National Security Council at a meeting on Tuesday June 13 to release all the lists the families demanded. The President noted that parliament was going to debate the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) on June 22 but told families he wouldn’t wait for the OMP to act.

On the point about secret detention centres though the President insisted that none existed, and told families that if they believed they did he would take them in his presidential vehicle to show them they did not exist.

Families of the disappeared told Tamil Guardian that they will watch closely to see what happens at the National Security Council meeting on Tuesday, and that they will not give up their protests until they get actual answers.

Families of the disappeared across the North-East have now been protesting roadside across the North-East for over 4 months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are testimonies from families that have been rallying in Killinochchi.

Name(s): Jegatharaparathavan, Yuvaneswaran, Kuganesan

Date of Disappearance: 2008, 2007, 2009

“My son dropped me at the checkpoint and was returning back to Vavuniya… they captured him somewhere at that point. He never made it back to where he was staying… He was good, didn’t cause any troubles, he took care of the home, his wife and kids… he bought things for his wife’s pregnancy and told me to give it to her and take care of her… Not just one or two but three of my children are missing.”

 

Name(s): Sujeepan Kandasamy

Date of Disappearance: 2009

“He was taken by the LTTE when he was 17… then he was taken by the army in 2009. He kept to himself, kept out of trouble…often when he’s home you couldn’t even tell he was there. When I saw him last, he ate the food I took and he said take everyone and you all get out… I will somehow come out too.” 

 

 

Name(s): Ratheeswaran Thevendran

Date of Disappearance: 2008

“He’s my youngest son.. he worked in a garage.”

“He was injured and the army took him to the hospital… the man that was beside him in the hospital said that he doesn’t know where my son was taken after.” 

Then someone we knew inside Magazine Prison said that my son’s name and information was registered there. By the time my son-in-law reached Magazine, they said he was no longer there.”

“Then when they were releasing some of the cadres after rehabilitation one of them said that my son was kept with them but would not tell us where because he was afraid.”

“I think this is him in a photograph in a newspaper (in an article appearing in Sudar Oli dated March 2012)”     

“I wrote to the Prime Minister… His office sent me this in response”
He also wrote to the ICRC. This was the response he received.
“Tell them to take me and let my child go instead.”

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