Families of abducted TRO staffers to meet Colombo press

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 April 2006, 02:50 GMT]
The Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) and the families of seven abducted humanitarian workers, during the past 6 weeks, report no progress despite reduced exposure to media following the messages received through "third parties" that the abducted would be released if TRO and the families "kept quiet and did not to speak to the media," a press release from the TRO said Wednesday. The organisation has called for a press conference Thursday.

Missing TRO staffers
Photographs of the abducted TRO workers displayed at the TRO office.

The TRO employees abducted on 29 and 30 January 2006 by paramilitary cadres in the Welikanda area of Polonnaruwa District are still "disappeared" 67 days after having been abducted.

The TRO has called for a press conference, Thursday morning at TRO Colombo office, located at 410/112 Bullers Road, to reveal the recent developments.

Over the past 6 weeks TRO has worked with third parties, the Human Rights Commission and police investigators to ascertain the whereabouts and facilitate the safe release of the abducted TRO staff, states the press release issued by the organisation.

"The families of the disappeared have had to endure a coordinated campaign by the tabloid press and various government representatives that question the authenticity of the abductions, causing a great deal of pain and suffering for the families and for TRO as an organization," the press release further said.

The families of the abducted have continued to visit the ICRC, SLMM, and TRO offices on a daily and weekly basis.

The organisation also reports that it's staffers in Colombo and in the NorthEast were receiving threatening phone calls and faxes over the past weeks.

TRO staffers reported missing:

  • Mr. Kasinathar Ganeshalingam TRO Director / PSEDC NorthEast Province Secretary (abducted 29/01/06)

  • Mr. Kathirkamar Thangarasa PSEDC Driver (abducted 29/01/06)

  • Ms. Thanuskody Premini TRO Batticaloa Chief Accountant (abducted 30/01/06)

  • Mr. Shanmuganathan Sujendran TRO Accountant, Children’s Home (abducted 30/01/06)

  • Mr. Arulthevarasa Satheesharan Accounts Trainee, Vellavali (abducted 30/01/06)

  • Mr. Kailayapillai Ravindran Accountant, Children’s Home (abducted 30/01/06)

  • Mr. Thampirasa Vasantharajah Accountant, TRO Batticaloa (abducted 30/01/06)

Chronology of events released by the TRO:
(all times approximate)

  • 29 January, 20:00 hours: TRO/PSEDC vehicle (V1) with 5 TRO/PSEDC employees stopped, occupants blindfolded and abducted.

  • 30 January, 14:00 hours: TRO accountant’s vehicle (V2) with 15 persons stopped, occupants blindfolded and abducted.

  • 30 January, 17:00 hours: 10 persons from V2 released with vehicle. 5 remain with the abductors.

  • 30 January, 21:00 hours: 2 Pre-School teachers from V1 released. They travel to their homes and do not report their experiences to anyone until 1 February. Thus TRO has no knowledge of the abduction of those in V1 until 1 February

  • 30 January, 22:00 hours: TRO Colombo is informed by TRO Batticaloa of the abduction of 5 staff and the release of the 10.

  • 30 January, 23:00 hours: TRO Colombo informs the following via telephone of the abductions:

    1. Sri Lankan Police Force
    2. SLMM
    3. ICRC
    4. Embassies and Consulates in Colombo
    5. Peace Secretariats (GoSL & LTTE)

  • 31 January, 9:00 hours: Arjunan Ethirveerasingam announces V2 abductions (the only abductions that TRO knew of at the time) to civil society at a Foundation for Co-Existence (FCE) conference on the CFA. IGP C. Fernando and Hon. M. Samarasinghe, MP are in attendance. Assurances are given of a through investigation.

  • 31 January, 11:00 hours: TRO Administrative Officer Mr. S. Mahalingam files Police Report/Complaint at Batticaloa Police station regarding the abduction of the 5 TRO accountants in V2.

  • 31 January, afternoon: Mothers of 2 of the disappeared travel to Welikanda Police Station and attempt to file a Police Report/Complaint. They were denied the opportunity to make a statement.

  • 31 January, afternoon: C.I.D. officers interview TRO Colombo Staff at the TRO Colombo Office.

  • 31 January, evening: TRO Kilinochchi informs TRO Colombo that Mr. Ganeshalingam and the others traveling in V1 did not show up for a scheduled morning workshop with FORUT

  • 01 February, morning: Pre School teachers who were released on Monday evening contact TRO Batticaloa. TRO confirms that fear that Mr. Ganeshalingam’s group (V1) has also been abducted.

  • 01 February, all day: SLMM, 2 female accountants from V2, and two mothers of those abducted and in custody travel to Welikande to file a police report and describe the events to the SLMM.

  • 01 February, afternoon: Ms. Premini’s brother files a police report in Vavuniya

  • 02 February, 1:00 hours: TRO Colombo dispatches a British National TRO Staffer and a human rights lawyer to Batticaloa to provide support for the released TRO/PSEDC staffers.

  • 02 February, 15:30: Pre School teachers (Ms. Nadeswari & Ms. Sivamathi) from V1 present themselves (accompanied by Colombo TRO Team and the Non-Violent Peace Force) at the Batticaloa Police Station to make a statement. They are detained against their will for 23 hours.

  • 03 February, 14:30: Pre School teachers released by Police. After consultation with the women’s parents it is decided that they should travel to Colombo with Colombo TRO Team for their safety.

  • 08 & 09 February, all day: Human Rights Commission (HRC) interviews each woman separately. To date the results of these interviews and a report on the investigation have not been conveyed to TRO or released publicly.

  • 10 & 11 February, all day: C.I.D. Colombo interviews the Pre School teachers for approximately 10 hours each day. TRO has not received any feedback from these interviews and/or any investigation into the abductions.


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