Hundreds of Tamil mothers Conduct rally in Kilinochchi to mark 2,000 days of protests to seek justice for their sons who they claim were forcibly disappeared during and after the civil war.

By Dinitha Rathnayake

Hundreds of Tamil mothers engaged in a rally last Friday (12) in Kilinochchi District to mark 2,000 days of protests and activism to seek justice for their sons who they claim were forcibly disappeared during and after the civil war.

The protests commenced in February 2017 during the Yahapalana Government, which promised justice to the families of the disappeared, to demand answers about the fate of their loved ones.

Speaking to The Morning, Mariya Suresh Ishwaree said: “We urge that Gotabaya Rajapaksa be arrested. We would receive justice after his arrest. we haven’t received any justice from anyone. The Sinhala community also has joined our struggle. We are looking for our husbands. I have been in Geneva twice, asking for justice. Many of the mothers of these disappeared children, especially those depending on a daily wage job, are facing enormous hardships while continuing to agitate for justice. Some of them are eating only one or two meals instead of three because of the current situation.”

Sandya Eknaligoda, human rights activist and wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, who also participated in the rally, told The Morning: “For 2,000 days these mothers waited for justice. They continued this struggle for all these years. The new President in Sri Lanka used these mothers during the election in 2015, so he has the opportunity to give justice and truth to these mothers. I’m taking part in this event on behalf of the mothers in the South.
“I have participated in this struggle in different places, and the result we want is truth and justice. I experienced this struggle for 12 years. The ‘aragalaya’ (struggle) is the only solution to winning truth and justice.”

Fr. Selvan from Jaffna, who was also an active member of the campaign, speaking to The Morning said: “We lost thousands and we need justice. This is our duty to ensure solidarity. All these people have a lot of stories. Former President Maithreepala Sirisena, at a discussion with Tamil families of the disappeared, said ‘there is no one here; if you want you can visit all the prisons’, but no one knows what happened. This is the post-conflict situation and we need justice.”

Ceylon Teachers’ Union General Secretary Joseph Stalin, who also participated in the rally, told The Morning: “This is one of the longest-running ‘aragalayas’ in Sri Lanka. More than 1,000 parents surrendered their children to the Army, and 136 parents died during this ‘aragalaya’, fighting for justice. we have a responsibility to urge an international investigation.”

Meanwhile, Anand Raja, whose son went missing during the last stage of the war in 2009, told The Morning: “We have started this continuous struggle from that year (2009). He was 34 years old at that stage. He was farming. We hope to receive a response regarding our son. Former President Maithreepala Sirisena said that our demand was reasonable, and that he would look into this matter to achieve the best result. But he has not fulfilled his promise. Our people don’t believe in the Office of Missing Persons. It’s powerless. They have done nothing.”

The years that have passed since the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, which ended in 2009, have not brought solace to the families of the over 16,000 persons who, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) records, remain missing.

Courtesy: The Morning