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Sri Lanka’s Missing

Where are they?

What happened to dozens of LTTE members who surrendered to the army together with Rev. Francis Joseph, a Catholic priest, south of the Vadduvaakal bridge on May 18 2009? “Aananthi” (not her real name), the wife of one of the disappeared, told Human Rights Watch that she saw the army load the priest and the LTTE members on to a bus and drive them away.
Human Rights Watch interviews with other witnesses and numerous media reports confirm her account. The wife and two children, aged 3 and 5 years, of an LTTE member were also taken away on the bus. The family members and Fr. Joseph remain missing.  Where and what happened to these people?  Why are these disappearances not investigated by the government which instead continues to stonewall all calls demanding accountability.
Through interviews with relatives of the missing and witnesses, published testimony and media reports, international human rights organizations have found that more than 20 people who were taken into army custody between May 16 and 18, 2009, appear to have been forcibly disappeared. Most of them are known to have been detained in the Vadduvaakal area, just south of the strip of land in north-eastern Sri Lanka where the final battle between the LTTE and government forces occurred.
At the time, the area was controlled by the Sri Lankan army’s 59th Division. Abductions in Sri Lanka continue unabated. Last week two more people went missing. Ramasamy Prahaharan, a Tamil businessman was abducted from outside his home as he attempted to open his gate at Canal Road, Wellawatte while another Tamil, Subramanium, was abducted from Aluthkade.
At the time of the abduction, Ramasamy Prahaharan had filed a fundamental rights application with the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka against senior police officers, the Attorney-General, and eight others, alleging torture and unlawful arrest and detention. The Supreme Court had granted him leave to proceed and the hearing had been scheduled for February 13. Ramasamy Prahaharan was abducted two days before the Fundamental Rights petition was to be heard in the Courts.
Apart from the ritual blank denial, the government has thus far ignored the fate of these missing persons. Family members of those abducted have a right to know if their loved ones are missing or dead.
Under International Law, an enforced disappearance occurs when the authorities take an individual into custody but refuse to acknowledge doing so or do not provide information about the person’s whereabouts or fate. Among the rights an enforced disappearance may violate are those to life, liberty, and security of the person, including protection from torture and other ill treatment.
Aananthi meanwhile has told Human Rights Watch that she has had no news about her husband since the abduction.  “I have searched in all the camps. I went to the Defence Ministry. I filed a complaint with the police in January 2010. But I have received no information about my husband. The police only told me it would be difficult for them to find him since the area where he went missing is under military control. I want the government to tell me what happened to him. Whether he is dead or alive, I want an answer.”
Asked specifically about Yogiratnam Yogi, one of the men taken away on the bus, the Sri Lankan Commissioner General for Rehabilitation said in July 2010 that he was not among more than 11,600 LTTE cadres in custody. Human Rights Watch has established the names of several other people who were taken away on the same bus, but it has not been possible to confirm whether they remain missing. In another disappearance case, a witness told Human Rights Watch that two former LTTE members helped government soldiers identify Colonel Ramesh, an LTTE leader, among the fleeing population and took him and three others away to a small hut nearby. Ramesh’s family has not received any news about him since he was detained. In December 2010 several media outlets broadcast a video clip obtained by the Global Tamil Forum that allegedly showed Ramesh in custody.
Human Rights Watch has obtained several additional, longer videos of Ramesh, providing further evidence that he was in army custody. In one of the videos, Ramesh is seen lying on a bench in civilian clothes. In four other videos, several soldiers stand around Ramesh while one of  the soldiers questions him about where he is from, the whereabouts of the wife of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, and how he received an injury on his back. At one point it seems  the soldiers are telling Ramesh that the date is the 22nd, suggesting that the video may have been filmed on May 22, 2009. A sixth video shows only Ramesh answering questions about when he joined the LTTE, what his position is, and his family members.
A Sri Lankan military spokesperson dismissed the December video as fake and claimed that Ramesh had been killed during the last days of the war.
On May 17, army soldiers detained Paramnantham Kokulakrishnan and two other men just north of the Vadduvaakal bridge. Kokulakrishnan’s wife told international human rights activists that the soldiers did not allow her to accompany her husband even though he was blind from an injury that he had received in 1996. The soldiers told her they would interrogate the men and then release them, but she has not had any news of her husband since. Kokulakrishnan’s family filed a complaint with the police in October 2010. The police replied by letter that they would investigate the disappearance, but the family has received no information.
Another witness account relates that five people are still missing after they were separated from the rest on May 17 just south of the Vadduvaakal bridge. Among the missing is Sudarsani Krishnakumar. Her family has filed complaints with the national Human Rights Commission and the police, but has received no information about her whereabouts.
In several cases, family members also testified before or filed written complaints with the  government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which was created by  President Rajapaksa in May 2010. While the LLRC has published testimony of  government officials and others on its website, it has not published many of the testimonies alleging enforced disappearances by government forces.
Where are these people? Surely, government law enforcement and other authorities cannot be this impotent to not be in a position to investigate them to a conclusion.

28 Comments for “Sri Lanka’s Missing”

  1. Justice will be done someday. It will take some time, but those responsible will have to pay.

  2. In Sri Lanka if someone is missing more than three days to three weeks it should be taken that this person will not float above any water on the surface of water. This is a continuing more often than normal under the present government after the genocidal war against the Tamils. These disappearances are for the simple reason that this Government doesn’t want to take any chances in falling into the International Charges in the UN.
    Victims of Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka and Jewish victims of the Nazi Genocide – not very different. I would call it the time difference and should not have happened and should not have allowed by the other NATIONS to have happened. Did the NATIONS of the world as a whole learn any lesson after the Hitler’s Actions? Leave the Nations as individuals, but think of United Nations Organization, which was formed after the Holocaust, for the reason, that such things should not repeat. Why do we still have UNO? Why?? UNO has some microorganisms within its system, which covers such Genocidal actions of some countries. They start working ahead of such cancerous actions. Some of the Countries have been bought by the country, which aims at genocides. Today our country is standing on a line facing the charge for Genocide which Every country knows it happened but some of them don’t want to accept as happened wanting the help of Sri Lanka in lieu of “some wants” in the future.

  3. Desh

    Frederica, why are you crying for the LTTE?

  4. Vegimte kid

    They are all killed, shot and burnt. This is the shameful killings that now the world has woken up to. SL is worse than Ruwanda where tourists are raped, Tamils killed and burnt. I will make sure that no one vists this country.

  5. gamarala

    With all these disappearances from custody, the government is getting a huge ‘whitewash’ ready for the UNHRCommission sessions.
    Deaths and torture in custody are well documented and known to international human rights groups.
    We shall await justice.

  6. Leela

    Have you ever written about that 600 policemen or their families who were gunned down after being surrendered to LTTE? No IC or its I/NGO stooges talked about taking LTTE to task for that or many other heinous crimes they have committed against thousand of civilian and killings and maiming by the blastings with their depraved human bombs. As the Americans say, there are collateral damages in a war specially one with the terrorists. Just think it is as fate for them just like for Bin Laden period
    Leela

    • Burning_Issue

      Leela,

      First you need to distinguish between LTTE and GOSL. The LTTE was a terrorist organisation and whereas the GOSL is an elected body with international accountability.

      Yes, collateral damages are sometimes unavoidable but subject to certain protocols and covenants; summary executions of surrendering LTTE personnel contravene international treaties to which Sri Lanka is signatory. This article is all about that if you care to notice!

      • Roshan

        collateral?? Are u talking through your mouth?? Try telling your international convention bullshit to the children of thse unarmed policemen who were summarily executed?? LTTE were terrorists n has me rights … As ur masters showed in the recent sat wrt BinLaden etc

    • M R

      Do we still need to depend on fate.

    • Bandara

      Don’t you ever think government sheltering the guy who was behind the 600 policemen killings? so why can’t they punish him now?

    • Nalin

      The IC will not be asking about the 600 policemen, since the honourable MR.Rajapaksha is keeping the main culprit under his wings, meaning there wasnt anything bad done.Mr.President is of course giving Mr.Amman all the facility specially wine and all the woman he needs for his needs. Hope you seen Mr.Amman is dancing with the nice pretty sinhala lady. The question arise if it really the 600 policemen died in the hand of Mr.Amman, would Mr.President is like they has to be big modaya or traitor for our country or is he really think that us Sinhalese are stupid enough to let continue in the power

    • BugsyFromWest

      Yes, there was crime committed then. How can that justify something that happened at latter part. Killing 600 police is crime and must be punished. But that doesn’t provide explanation for killing more people in custody. Killing people in custody whether they are evil or not, is not part of Sri Lankan way of justice. Don’t make Sri Lanka look bad by saying that 600 police were killed that’s why these people were killed. Once the country as a whole can provide accountability for any death that happens in the island, then the true Sri Lankan pride will be honoured.
      Thanks,
      Bugsy

    • loverfun

      Hi Leela,
      As u know Karuna was the key man behind the killing of these police men. if u are born to one father you shouldn’t keep him with the government if you talk about the killing of police men. wt about the civilians killed by the army.
      Loverfun

    • Piranha

      Hey Leela, ask your leader’s bosom buddy Karuna first before complaining about the writer of this article. He killed them without the knowledge of Prabhakaran. Karuna is being rewarded by the Rajapakses with women, wine and parties for his crimes. That is the Rajapakse way. So ask the Rajapaksas.

      FYI, collateral damage is very different from wanton killing of civilians, the former is unavoidable and unintentional but the latter is a war crime.

      • Roshan

        Wow killed them without Prabhakaran’s knowledge?? Are we seriously discussing this?? What killings were done with the knowledge of your PIG?? Since when it was “not ok” if the killings were not sanctioned by the PIG??
        What next, should we call the PIG “sir” ??

      • SL

        “He killed them without the knowledge of Prabhakaran.”

        Still try to whitewash your fat pig ha?

    • Roshan

      well said sis!

    • You will NEVER, EVER realize the truth. My deepest sympathies.

  7. Saro

    Government forces and LTTE are alleged to have committed war crimes and violations of international laws. Only an impartial and independent probe will establish the truth once and for all and that in turn will lead to reconciliation.
    The Deputy Minister Mr Muralitharan was the Eastern Commander of the LTTE when about 600 policemen were massacred.

    Some from the detention camps have bribed their way abroad with scars and wounds of alleged torture. They also say many were shot dead while under interrogation by the army. Unless the facts are unearthed the crimes behind power will continue and that will pave way for renewed conflict as Irish Republican Army showed in Northern Ireland. They were supported and encouraged by Irish-Americans until a peaceful solution was worked out with the facilitation of US government.

  8. Sri

    Where are they? In Rajapakse’s nirvana!

    • RAWANA.

      S O M E of you minority tamils, who are only 4% of the populatiomn are an ungrateful sector who forget you are not only aliens come here insearch of a better pasture, from Tamil Nadu, then a barren, resouseless, hunger stricken hopeless area,Having felt pathetic the Sinalese with their tradtional buddhist compassion, gave the alien tamils all facilitis on humane considerations wthout illtreating these unfortnate destitutes.. You have now grown from strenght to strenght slealthily and with sheer shrewdness. You were then not bending in two but into three, befoe a slight threat. And gradually became terrorists, whose hjoly Sun God and his worshippers were annihilated and sent to Moksha at a drain in May 2009. Sinhalese are fair, they treated the Sinhaala JVP too in the same manner and will not hesitate to completly destroy any further militant uprising not with 30 years but 30 days. Please accept the friendly hands of amity and reconsiliation, discrding false arrogance and hautiness your community naturlly possess and help strengthen the Tamil/Sinhala bond now being formed gradually.Thanks to most of the far sighted Tamils families , who suffered untold misery due to their own LTTE Sun God worship, have now disregaring Sampanthan’s vicious advices, have realised theri past follies and are falling in line withthe reonciliation prorme.For the Tamils there is no other way..

  9. AC

    LTTE did killings and USA is the first country banned them. Now its proved that Government also did the same. If USA is neutral they should give punishment to SL Government too.

  10. Thusitha

    Why Sri Lanka troops are not allowed to kill LTTE leaders? LTTE is banned organisation in USA and Europe in same line with alkaida, If USA not taking prisners from alkaida why Sri Lanka not allowed to follow the USA example?
    Why two rules? one for Alkaida, one for LTTE or one for USA and different one when it is Sri Lanka?

  11. Ravi cooray

    This article is a joke , talking about a few dozens of people who are missing. The fact is there are thouisands of innocent people buried somewhere. As for asking why the government does not investigate well thats hardly surprising as they are the responsible people. Why exactly do you think the GOSL has been fighting tooth and nail to avoid an independent international investigation. It is a simple question … if they have nothing to hide why are they spending vast amounts of time and money trying to avoid investigation ?

    • Roshan

      Why should we agree t an investigation?? SriLankans don’t need it? So why are you bothered with what Americans n other Suddas want?? Typical inferior mentality??

  12. dagobert

    Francis had visited his creator……….
    I do not know about the surrederies BUT they are certainly cold blooded killer Terrorists… oh !!!!!!!!!!!! them ….
    It was too hot for the creator to handle… So he let them go and visit VELU.

    Now, full “kachal” in the Apaya………… they are before the High Judge Kadiragama.

    AWAIT… MARIE COLVIN IS ON HER WAY VISITING THERE TO PROVIDE A REPORT WITH A LTTE SPLINTER IN ONE EYE.

    Marie Colvin dead… another Rajapakshe genocide.

    • Roshan

      funny dude the ” tigress” who lost an eye in heaven err hell…? Probably will ask her war around from the ” pig” thug himself??

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