“As the world prepares to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most meaningful action that the UN and the international community can take vis a vis Sri Lanka is to apply concrete pressure on the Government to take concrete steps to trace the fate of our loved ones and hold those responsible for their forced disappearance. Otherwise Human Rights will remain for us an unrealized value, full of rhetoric and of no practical relevance to our plight,” said the appeal from the families of enforced disappeared in Batticaloa district on Sunday. The appeal was addressed to the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. Protests were staged in Jaffna in the North and in Batticaloa in the East by the families of enforced disappeared from all the 8 districts of the occupied country of Eezham Tamils.
Families of enforced disappeared protest in Jaffna on Human Rights Day, 2017
In Jaffna, more than 600 families of enforced disappeared from the five districts of Jaffna, Ki'linochchi, Mannaar, Mullaiththeevu and Vavuniyaa took part in the rally and protest march towards the UN residential office at Naavalar Road. The families marched from Jaffna District Secretariat through Nalloor Temple Road.
The representatives of the enforced disappeared said their continuous protests are approaching 300 days. But, nothing has happened. The SL regime and the UN system are engaged in deceiving the families of the enforced disappeared through the establishment of the so-called Office of Missing Persons (OMP) mechanism.
“OMP is not a solution. It has become a fund-raising project for those making a living out of our plight,” commented an activist who took part in the procession in Jaffna. There is no difference between the Rajapaksa regime and the regime of Maithiripala Sirisena, the families said. They were saying that the assurances given by the SL President in one meeting were denounced by himself in the next meeting.
In the East, families from the three districts took part in the protest rally, which was organised in Batticaloa. The protesting families who rallied at Kalladi bridge in Batticaloa marched towards Gandhi Square through the Clock Tower in the City of Batticaloa. Their representatives read out their demands to the media.
Annamma Kovinthapillai from Cheanaik-kudiyiruppu in Ampaa'rai told TamilNet that the international community, particularly the UN Human Rights Chief, was answerable to them as they had handed over the responsibility of the truth and justice to the criminal State in the island.
“I am not prepared to accept the missing certificate or death certificate from the OMP. My son was taken away by the SL military. And the SL State is responsible to establish what happened to him,” she said.
Further extracts from the appeal from Batticaloa:
Families of enforced disappeared protest in Batticaloa on Human Rights Day, 2017
“If the Government is willing, it can trace, within a very short period of time, the whereabouts of our loved ones with the help of these lists.
“If the lists are not available the Government can seek information from those who were in charge of the camps/ security check points at the relevant time.
“Without doing any of this the Government drags its feet while giving the appearance that they are committed to tracing by putting out announcements periodically over the last year or so in relation to the process of establishing of the Office of Missing Persons. Each of these announcements has been targeted towards the international community seeking to impress upon them that they are making progress.
“We have time and again said that the OMP will only serve to be yet another eye washer unless the Government takes some concrete steps that give us the indication to the contrary.
“The only means by which the Government can build trust regarding the OMP is by releasing those lists that we demanded in our meeting with the President on 12th June 2017. We don’t want to shed tears and narrate our stories again to an institution that is being set up to serve the interests of the Government of the day.”