Death certificates to whitewash abductions, killings?

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 28 June 2011, 10:10 GMT]
Relatives of persons categorized under the missing and disappeared in Batticaloa district for more than a year are in dilemma whether to obtain death certificates as they believe that they are alive. The relatives say that their loved ones were abducted, in their presence, by para military groups led by Karuna and Pilliayan, and by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers, and could be still alive.

Three day-mobile service was held on June 14, 17 and 24 at Eravoorpathu Chengkaladi DS division under a pilot project launched by the Ministry of National Languages and Integration together with the UNDP in eastern Sri Lanka to issue such death certificates to persons disappeared or missing during the conflict.

But several families had declined to register their missing loved ones. Several returned home said that they were forced to register their missing husbands and children as dead while they believe that are alive after the abduction by para military groups of Pilliayan and Karuna before their eyes while they were returning home from schools or leaving for work under the pretext of holding inquiry.

Those abducted, the relatives say, were later forced to work with the para military groups.

Some relatives said their kith and kin surrendered to the army at the last phase of war alive in the presence of public, and refused to register the surrendees as missing.

“But we are prepared to register the missing after the abduction by Karuna and Pilliayan para military groups as dead if the government openly admits that the abducted had been killed by such para military groups,” relatives said.

The relatives say that the government has been using the UNDP to hide their crimes without allowing them to see their kith and kin now held in detention centres and prisons.

Relatives of some of the earlier detainees ask why the UNDP, which is assisting the government to issue death certificates to missing and disappeared persons as dead, has failed to take steps to allow the relatives to see their loved ones now held in detention centres and prisons and collect their details.

The head of a resettled family in Paduwaankarai in Batticaloa district said the government has not provided any assistance to those resettled in the area even after three years and there is no need for them to obtain any assistance from the government by obtaining death certificates for their relatives who were reported missing after abduction.

He said this as a response to government statement that death certificates are needed for the relatives of missing persons to obtain relief assistance from the state and other non-governmental organizations.

He reminded that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) had refused to entertain complaints from the relatives of disappeared persons when it held its sitting in Batticaloa. Relatives of those missing had asked the LLRC to locate their missing and not death certificates and compensation for their loss.

More than 2500 complaints have been lodged regarding missing persons in the Batticaloa district. 490 complaints have been lodged in Era’voorpaththu Chengkaladi DS division alone.

40,000 widows who have lost their husbands in war are in the eastern province. Of them about 25,000 are young widows between the ages 15-40, according to Deputy Minister for Women Affairs and Child Protection M.L.A.M. Hisbulla.

According to Batticaloa district TNA parliamentarian S.Selvarajah, about three hundred Tamil boys and girls had been reported disappeared during the last three years since the eastern province was brought under the complete control of the Sri Lanka Army.


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