As the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council continues in Geneva, Tamil Families of the Disappeared in Mannar have called on the international community to deliver justice for their forcibly disappeared loved ones.
During a press conference held in Mannar on Friday morning, Manuel Udayachandra, coordinator of the Mannar District Association for the Search for Missing Persons, said the international community should “seek justice for our children who were handed over alive to the Sri Lankan government” at the end of the armed conflict in 2009.
Udayachandra stressed the lack of trust the families of the disappeared have in the state in finding their loved ones or in ensuring that justice is served. “We do not trust the Sri Lankan military or government,” she added.
“We handed over our children because the army said we would protect them,” she said.
“My son came home on September 12, 2008 and was taken away by the Navy for questioning. But I do not know what my son’s position is until this. I went to all the naval camps in Sri Lanka and looked for my child,” Udayachandra told the press.
She requested UN member states to come up with a solution to cure the long search and struggle of the mothers and families of the disappeared. “Mothers have been protesting on the streets for about 1600 days today for their missing relationships,” she stressed. “We are asking the nations of the world today to help free them if they are there.”
“Our times are not over yet. If we die, the evidence will be destroyed. That is what the government want. The struggle for my children will continue as long as a mother is alive,” Udayachandra added.
Since the protests across the North-East began, over 80 parents have died without ever knowing what happened to their disappeared relatives or before those responsible were brought to justice.
Ahead of the 48th UNHRC session, the Association for Relatives of the Enforced Disappearances (ARED) wrote a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressing their anguish regarding the failure of international action to bring them justice. The association drew attention to the issue and called for sustained international pressure on Sri Lanka to deliver justice to the relatives of the disappeared.