We are the relatives of those who have been abducted, arrested, and disappeared by agents of the state or different armed groups. With our lives and emotions, in different ways, we have been searching for our loved ones who have not returned home, and who we believe are being held in illegal and secret ways.
Statements by families were emotional with several breaking down before the COI. During their submissions, they were reliving, yet again, the trauma of losing a loved one and the few minutes provided to them hardly do justice to what they have endeavoured. In addition, the questions posed to the families so far lack empathy in the context of deep trauma. Furthermore, statements made by some of the commissioners to the families insinuate the disappeared and/or the families themselves were at fault. This raises the question whether the COI and the Government’s version of truth telling is more damaging than helpful to the families with little evidence to show there is genuine concern to hear grievances of affected communities. And it raises the larger question whether the official narrative has already taken shape with no space for any other.
Instead of dispersing the unruly mob or arresting them, the Police asked the organizers to cancel the meeting and send the participants home. They also refused to provide the participants with protection, despite the organizers requesting the Police for protection, whilst pointing out that the Police were duty-bound to do so. The organizers continued to stand their ground and insist that the Police remove the abusive mob from the private premises of the church. The organizers were reinforced by the arrival of several lawyers, Catholic priests and representatives of civil society organizations.
“They come in unmarked white vans. The people they take are never seen again. Activists say one person is taken this way every 5 days. Leena Manimekalai met the families of Sri Lanka’s disappeared.”
The Families of the Disappeared, an incredibly brave Tamil group from Mannar, were blocked by police from going in the other direction. They ended up holding a demonstration in the road where police held around 50 people for 6 hours without food or water. This is the third time the Families of the Disappeared have been blocked from reaching Colombo for a demonstrationhttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/BY8He9ECYAEO0rr.jpg
Meanwhile at that demonstration Ranil Wickermasinghe, the ex PM and leader of the opposition, had his car attacked by a mob of demonstrators: https://twitter.com/Tharaka_/status/400578034274549761/photo/1/large
And Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice received also a death threat.