Rajapakse disregards disappearances - Civil Monitoring Committee

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 19:54 GMT]
"The President of Sri Lanka has chosen to dismiss the present disappearances as not worthy of local and international attention," said a resolution passed by Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC), which is engaged in monitoring involuntary disappearances, abduction, extra judicial killings and arbitrary arrests and detentions in Sri Lanka. This resolution was passed in an event organized by it in Colombo Monday, where family and friends of the disappeared gathered to express their grief.

CMC chairman Sirithunga Jayasooriya, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe MP, CMC convenor and Western People Front leader Mano Ganeshan, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran, United National Party parliamentarians, John Amarathunga and Ravi Karunanayake were some of the dignitaries who spoke at the event which was attended by persons, near and dear to those disappeared.

Tears streaming down the face of one of the grieving mothers.

The following resolution in the form of an appeal was passed at the end of the meeting:

Petition to help find our disappeared family members and friends in Sri Lanka

We have gathered here at the initiative and call of Civil Monitoring Commission today to collectively mourn and express our grief at the sudden disappearance of our loved ones. We consider human lives as sacred and that no one, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, caste, social status etc., deserves to be "disappeared".

We are shocked that this is happening again in our country after the dark past where thousands of young men and women simply "disappeared" never to be heard again. We join their family members and friends in solidarity and share their continued grief.

We are saddened that the present government, headed by a President who had been at the forefront of the struggle against disappearances many years ago along with the family members of the disappeared, has chosen to dismiss the disappearance of our loved ones as something that is not worthy of local and international attention. We are particularly pained at the inability or unwillingness of the government to adequately investigate this situation and their rejection of our efforts and those of local and international groups trying to help us.

Although the government makes out that they are taking steps to address this situation in the form of the Mahanama Tillekeratne Commission, Commission of Inquiry (CoI) and the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) etc., none of these mechanisms have helped to bring back our loved ones and to know the fates of them. Setting up of these two commissions and group did not prevent disappearances even after have been set up.

As family members and friends,

  • We want to find our loved ones

  • We want to know what happened to them and those responsible to be held accountable

  • We want to make sure that there are effective mechanisms (not rhetorical) put in place to make sure that other families are also not subjected to the agony of having their loved ones "disappear"

So, we call on the government to:

1. Publicly acknowledge the disappearances of our loved ones and the continuing disappearances

2. Recognize that despite the best commitment, skills and experience of its members, the Commission of Inquiry and the IIGEP don't have an adequate mandate and the capacity to help us find our loves ones, know what happened to them and prevent such things from continuing to happen

3. Make available to us and the general public the report of the Mahanama Tillekeratne Commission set up to inquire into disappearances

4. Extend invitation to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Madam Louise Arbour to visit Sri Lanka

5. Positively respond to the request of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to urgently visit Sri Lanka and obtain their assistance to help us find our loved ones, know what happened to them and steps to be taken to prevent future disappearances

6. Set up an independent international monitoring mechanism in Sri Lanka that can investigate the disappearances of our loved ones in an independent manner and could work with the government, all relevant actors including Civil Monitoring Commission and all human rights defenders, to hold those accountable, prevent future disappearances and bring an end to the culture of impunity

7. Make "enforced disappearances" a crime in Sri Lanka

8. Ratify the UN Convention on the protection of all persons from enforced or involuntary disappearances



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