For well over thirty years, Tamil people have been missing in the North and East of Sri Lanka. The majority of them disappeared during the war and some of them were taken away by the army in front of their relatives at the end of the war in May 2009. The relatives of the missing persons have complained to the government for years and their cries have continued to fall on deaf years.
The mothers of those missing persons are fed up with the Tamil National Alliance and the government and have started a fasting protest in Vavuniya on 23 January 2017, in order to register their anger. Although they hope against hope of seeing their loved ones again, they have to endure
the anxiety of not knowing their relatives' plight. Day in and day out, these mothers live in mourning
and fearing the worst.
Two of the fasting mothers were in critical condition. There was some disquiet in the prisons where Tami prisoners were held and there were hunger strikes in sympathy with the fasting mothers in Vavuniya.
The government set up a committee to look into the missing persons issue but like many other committees, it didn't come to fruition.
The Sri Lankan government's claim for 'good governance' should address this important issue and should have set the record straight. It should come clean with the number of people missing in the North East.
At the least, it should be able to identify the number of people who were taken into custody in the presence of their relatives. The government must inform the relatives as to where they are or what happened to them.
Unless the government comes clean in these burning issues, the government will continue to have blood on their hands. This important issue cannot be postponed indefinitely. It certainly does not help their quest for a better international relationship.
The society we live in is under threat from the erosion of basic human rights and values, not merely due to the attitude of a few but chiefly because the majority of us are mere spectators to the events surrounding us.
We sincerely hope that instead of hoping that the change in the US administration would push the Human Rights issue to the back burner and as a sign of its good faith to the long-grieving mothers, the Sri Lankan government should address this issue with both urgency and sincerity.
TWG Editorial Board
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Tamil Writers Guild Editorial Board
Source: Tamil Writers Guild, UK
Date: 28 February 2017