2ND LEAD (update)

Families of missing persons subjected to threats, intimidation

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 February 2014, 20:24 GMT]
The intelligence wing of the occupying Sri Lankan military and the ‘Terrorist’ Investigation Department (TID) operatives in the North intimidate and threaten the families of the missing persons as many of the victims were not prepared to give up their complaints. The latest harassment comes in the wake of the so-called ‘independent’ Presidential Commission on Investigating Missing Persons had its first sitting in Ki’linochchi district last month. The current drive of genocidal Colombo, intimidating the kin of the missing to receive Rs 100,000 and withdraw the complaint or to face the fate of those who were ‘missing,’ raises question on what was actually meant by the US Asst Secretary of State reiterating ‘reconciliation’ last week.

Whether in war or post war, every visit of officials from Washington, New Delhi and London generating new and invigorated forms of genocidal onslaught on Eezham Tamils, needs thorough investigation on the policies practised in reality by the powers in complicity, commented Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island, citing a catalogue of evidences.

More than 440 people came to the venue of the sitting by the 3-member commission in Ki’linochchi. However, the commission only managed to register 162 cases, according to the commission’s spokesman.

While the commission was conducting open hearings, the SL military had set up a ‘similar’ investigation office near the District Secretariat. The SL military intelligence operatives coerced the family members with offers of 100,000 rupees to each family, dry rations, job and education opportunities if they were prepared to annul or avoid their complaints and receive death certificates for the missing people.

SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Namal Rajapaksa was leading the project of deception. Many families chose to decline the offer from the SL military.

In the meantime, the Sri Lankan military has ‘somehow’ managed to receive the details from the ‘independent’ commission and those who have lodged complaints are now being harassed through mobile phones day and night.

“One day they call saying they are from the TID. Another day the callers say they are from the Intelligence. They try to woo us to accept death certificate for our missing father,” a daughter of a missing father told TamilNet Thursday. “Do you want to meet the same fate as your father, the caller asked me when I refused to accept the offer,” she said.

Even though the people had no faith in the local commissions, they were registering the details as they felt their pleas would not be heard otherwise. The visiting international players have no other solution than just calling for a ‘Sri Lankan process’, a rights activist said, adding that everyone was ‘advising’ the families to meet up, register details with the Commission and present their case at the open hearing. “Now the families are identified and harassed one by one by the occupying military.”

At an event in Ki’linochchi on 20 January, Namal Rajapakse ‘donated’ 100,000 rupees to each of the seven families that had agreed to receive death certificate for their missing family member. 426 families were given 10 kg dry rations each. At least 6 ministries from Colombo had dispatched officials on a campaign to woo the victims away from registering the complaints in January.

Now, the SL military and TID officials who are visiting the families on day time proposing the same benefits to the families. Those who decline are subjected to intimidation, anonymous phone calls and threats.

SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed the so-called ‘independent’ Presidential Commission on Investigating Missing Persons a few days ahead of the visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in August 2013.

The three-member Commission started its sittings just ahead of the UNHRC session in Geneva this year.

When the commission was appointed, it was announced that the Commission was to address the issue of missing people in the North and East. However, the Commission later registered Sri Lankan military soldiers Missing-in-Action also in their registry, making a balance sheet of 9,300 civilians and 4,300 Sri Lankan soldiers reported missing.

Through coercive and through threats, the SL military attempts to reduce the statistics of the civilians reported missing to a figure equivalent to Sinhala military personnel missing in action.


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