Unable to trace disappeared -HRC, AI

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 July 2000, 09:35 GMT]
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Vavuniya has not been able to find the whereabouts of 17 people who have been reported 'missing' or arrested by the Sri Lankan security forces during the first six months of this year, said Mr.Sreetharan, the chairman of the Commission. He said HRC received 303 complaints during the period. Meanwhile human rights organisation, the Amnesty International (AI), issued a press release Wednesday expressing its concern over the safety of Thambiah Wijayakumar, 24, who was arrested on 22 June in Vavuniya.

The full text of the press release follows:

"Thambiah Wijayakumar "disappeared" after being arrested by members of the Security Co-ordinating Unit (SCU), a police unit involved in interrogating suspected members of the armed opposition group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Amnesty International fears for his safety.

"On 22 June, Thambiah Wijayakumar was reportedly taken away from the cinema in Veppankulam, Vavuniya district, where he works, by four officers of the SCU. The SCU and other security forces however denied he was in their custody when Thambiah's relatives made enquiries.

"Many of the large number of "disappearances" reported in Sri Lanka since the mid 1980s relate to the fighting between the LTTE and government forces in the north and east of the country.

"Thambiah Wijayakumar's case is the fifth "disappearance" reported this year. Amnesty International recorded 10 "disappearances" in 1999. The United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances visited Sri Lanka in October 1999 to evaluate progress in implementing recommendations made to the government following two visits in 1991 and 1992. It expressed concern that many of its earlier recommendations to prevent "disappearances" had not been implemented."


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