Home » Justice for Enforced Disappeared by State Apparatus-2000 days “Poratam” struggle by Tamil Mothers in Sri – EIN News

Justice for Enforced Disappeared by State Apparatus-2000 days “Poratam” struggle by Tamil Mothers in Sri – EIN News

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Tamil Families of the Disappeared

"When current Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickramasinghe was Prime Minister in 2016, he announced that all disappeared persons should be assumed dead"

UN High Commissioner in her June 2021 report- the recent appointments to the OMP & Office of Reparation were discouraging victims trust & hampering investigations into disappearances”

— Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, August 30, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ --

The 30th of August marks International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) acknowledges the ongoing pain and suffering of those who have been subjected to enforced disappearance and stands in solidarity with families and friends of those affected. TGTE, salutes the determination and resilience of Tamil mothers on the island of Sri Lanka who have been continuously campaigning for more than 2000 days, demanding answers the whereabouts of their loved ones who disappeared under Sri Lankan authorities. Despite ongoing threats and harassment, the mothers have refused to disappear, and continue to fight for justice and accountability.

In December 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations, in Resolution 65/209, proclaimed August 30 as the International Day of the Disappeared, drawing attention to this global issue which continues to be used across the world as a method of repression and terror. Over the years, thousands of individuals have been victims of enforced disappearance by genocidal states and dictatorial regimes across the world. Enforced disappearance deprives families of the right to know the truth about their loved ones. But the feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to close relatives of the disappeared, it also affects their communities.

According to Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka has the world's second highest number of cases of enforced disappearance registered with the United Nations Working Group. Since the late 1980s, the overwhelming majority of these have been Tamils disappeared by agents of the state. Towards the end of the war in 2009, hundreds of Tamils, including second rank LTTE leaders, were handed over to the Sri Lankan armed forces. The fate of these Tamils remains unknown. The Sri Lankan state engaged in enforced disappearances in a widespread and systematic fashion against Tamils, before, during and after the armed conflict. The infamous ‘white van abduction’ became a symbol of enforced disappearances on the island.

According to the International Convention on Enforced Disappearances and Article 7 of the Rome Statute, widespread and systematic engagement disappearances constitute a Crime against Humanity. Disappearances of Tamil youths on the island of Sri Lanka is also an instrument of Tamil Genocide given that successive governments have been driven by chauvinistic Sinhala Buddhist racism, coupled with the fact that the major perpetrators of crimes against the Tamils are the paramilitary and Sri Lankan security forces, which is almost entirely Sinhalese.

The fact is that the Sri Lankan state is Sinhala Buddhist ethnocratic, is manifested in the recent dropping of charges against a former Naval Commander for killing of 11 Tamils. Sri Lanka’s institutions are riddled with pervasive and corrosive racism.

Enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka is well recognised. Most of the enforced disappearances have been carried out by the Sri Lankan armed forces and its paramilitaries. After the end of the war, the Sri Lankan military have become a more powerful entity, making addressing this issue difficult. With Major Shavendra Silva, the defence chief and an accused war criminal who is subject to sanctions by the US taking on increased roles, achieving accountability domestically is inconceivable. It is in this environment that Tamil mothers continue their " porattam" (struggle). They continue to protest by the roadside with their placards, marching through the streets with clay pots on their heads, a traditional Tamil practice to make a vow to seek justice. All their demands are premised on the “right to know”, "right to know the truth " and legal instruments such as International Convention on Enforced Disappearances. Thus far, their requests have not been met and sadly at least 138 people, mostly mothers of the disappeared, have died during this long struggle without knowing what happened to their loved ones.

When current Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickramasinghe was Prime Minister in 2016, he announced that all disappeared persons should be assumed dead, and in 2019, the then Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the same. Neither reported on what basis they came to that conclusion.

To appease the International Community, the Sri Lankan state has employed several measures. It ratified the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, but expressed reservations against Article 31 of the Convention, which enables victims themselves to directly petition the Committee established under the Convention on their behalf. It also established the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in response to Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1. However, since itsoperationalization in September 2017, it has become apparent that there was no honest intention to serve the families of the disappeared. It’s title, "Office of Missing Persons ", implies the persons in question went missing when, in fact, they were victims of enforced disappeared by the state. On 20th May2021, former Police Chief Jayantha Wickramaratne, in-charge of three police units allegedly involved in mass disappearances at the end of the armed conflict, was appointed as a member of the OMP. In 2018 Sri Lanka established the Office for Reparations. TGTE strongly believe that Enforced disappearances cannot be settled by monetary compensation. The TGTE believes that proper reparation should take the form of remedial justice. The Office of Reparations is also militarized by the appointment of retired Major General Waduge Palitha Piyasuri Fernando.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in her June 2021 report stated the recent appointments to the OMP and the Office of Reparation were discouraging victims trust and hampering investigations into disappearances. Not surprisingly, the victims do not have trust in any of these entities.

The TGTE believes justice can be achieved only through an independent international accountability process. As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated in her 2021 February report, the situation in Sri Lanka should be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Her recommendation was endorsed by 3 former Human Rights Commissioners, and 11 former UN Special Rapporteurs. The High Commissioner also requested that universal jurisdiction be engaged on perpetrators, to bring justice to the victims.

One of the main architects of these heinous crimes, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former Defence Secretary, and the former President of Sri Lanka, under whose watch, a very high number of disappearances took place, is currently sitting in Thailand, without the armoury of immunity. The international community should pressure Thailand to arrest, detain, investigate, and prosecute him for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes under universal jurisdiction.

TGTE urges the UNHRC, UNGA, and the International Community to seriously intervene and apply this 65/209 resolution, universal jurisdiction and Magnitsky Act on perpetrators and sanctions on rogues’ states like Sri Lanka.

Tamil mothers will continue to wait for justice and closure for their loved ones.

Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran
Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE)
+1 614-202-3377
[email protected]
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Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE)

August 30, 2022, 12:09 GMT

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