Feature Article

UN Human Rights mechanism in Geneva has disappointed families of enforced disappeared

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 February 2017, 21:14 GMT]
Mothers and wives of enforced disappeared in Ki'linochchi district, who are waging a continuous struggle since Monday this week, have blamed the Office of Human Rights High Commissioner in Geneva for working behind the scene to give more ‘time and space’ to the SL State without bringing international justice. “Look at us. I am already 65. Most of the aged mothers, like myslef, are affected by various kinds of illnesses. We take more medicines than food. We would not last for long. 7 years have already vanished. Giving time and space to SL State only means death to ourselves and justice. If we are no more, there would be no one demanding justice. Colombo knows this,” Leelathevi Ananthanadarajah, one of the mothers giving collective leadership to the struggle being waged in front of the Kandaswamy temple in Ki'lilnochchi told TamilNet in a video interview.



Nanthini Visvanathan, a young mother of two, whose husband was detained by SL military at Oamanthai in May 2009 and subjected to enforced disappearance says she believes her husband and many others were still alive and held incommunicado. “SL President doesn’t need much time. If he has the political will to trace their whereabouts, one month would be more than enough,” Nanthini told TamilNet.

There has been no action from the UN on tracing hundreds of persons subjected to enforced disappearance, particularly those who were handed over to SL military and those who were filtered away from the people on their way from Vanni to Menik Farm in Vavuniya in 2009, the protesting mothers and wives say.

Instead of clinging on to the futile discourse of expecting justice for Tamil victims from the so-called changes in South, the UN should recognize the failure of SL regime in living up to the expectation. It should be able to judge the deceptive tactics of Colombo and change the discourse, they say.

Heman Kumara, a Sinhala activist from the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) in South expressed solidarity with the women and demanded the Colombo regime to reveal the whereabouts of the surrendees. A group of activists from South spent time with the mothers at Ki’linochchi on their way to express solidarity with those fighting for release of lands from SL military.

More than 1,200 persons hailing from Ki’linochchi district alone were subjected to enforced disappearances in 2009. And many of them were persons handed over to SL military or those who were filtered away from the people by the SL military, even after completing the formalities to be transported to refugee internment camps in Vavuniyaa, according to the working committee members of the Association for Relatives of the Enforced Disappeared in Ki’linochchi district.

Ms Leelathevi said she was aware of the existence of undeclared detention centers such as the one, which was later admitted by the UN as existed in Trincomalee.

“We were told by some [Sinhalese] friends connected to my work on existence of the detention center in Trincomalee. This came to light after I had visited each and every detention centre, including the undeclared ones in Vavuniyaa. I gave the photo of my son to these friends to check among the inmates in Trincomalee. They tried, but they were unable to distinguish the inmates from each other as everyone looked the same [due to the conditions prevailing there]. They suggested me to write to Navy commander, which I did. Later, when the UN admitted the discovery of the detention centre, there was no information about those who were detained there. The UN was only talking about the discovery it made. It didn’t demand answers from the regime on the whereabouts of the inmates,” Leelathevi told TamilNet.

Yet, we have no place to complain other than the UN and we have to expect justice from UN. That is why we have written an appeal to UN Secretary General now, she said.

Another mother, Yogarasa Kanakaranjini, who has been searching for her son said many of those sent for medical treatment were also subjected to enforced disappearances. Her son, Amalanathan Yogarasa, was injured in Vanni and was missing since 25 March 2009. The last news about him was that he was receiving treatment at Pulmoaddai, she said.

Ms Kanakaranjani, who is also a working committee member of the association said their continuous struggle will not be concluded without proper answers.

“We are not prepared to end our struggle trusting any invitation to meet the Prime Minister or any other ministers in Colombo. They should come and provide answers to us at the venues where we stage our struggle,” said Leelavathi. The same stand was expressed by all the mothers taking part in the struggle at Ki’linochchi.


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