Sunteți pe pagina 1din 4

A Cry For Answers

By Easwaran Rutnam- Sunday, January 26, 2014

What do we tell the children about their father? How do we run the households? These were some of the questions that weeping women asked the residential !ommission on "isappearances which had public sittings in the #orth last week$ %nandi &asitharan' the wife of former (TTE Trincomalee "istrict political head &$ Elilan was among those who met the residential !ommission on disappearances and lodged a complaint about her missing husband$ &asitharan said that she shared details about her husband with the !ommission and insisted that he was last seen with the army$ &asitharan met the !ommission in )ilinochchi where it has been recording statements from families of those reported missing$ *+ told the !ommission that my husband was taken away by the army on ,-th .ay /001 in front of my own eyes when we handed oursel2es to the military during the final days of the war$ + also told the !ommission + can gi2e more e2idence about Elilan if they need'3 she said$ #o faith % member of the #orthern ro2incial !ouncil' &asitharan said that she had no faith in the residential !ommission but she ga2e a statement 4ust' so that the 5o2ernment does not say she boycotted the !ommission$ *The !ommission members told me they had the authority to take action' but + told them that6s

what e2en the ((R! said' so + ha2e no faith in them$ But + told them + will continue to fight for 4ustice for my husband'3 she said$ .eanwhile she also claimed that se2eral people from some 2illages in )ilinochchi were pre2ented from making statements to the !ommission by the army$ &he said the army had gi2en them tokens and asked them to appear at makeshift camps where death certificates were to be handed o2er on behalf of those missing$ &asitharan said that most family members of those missing refused to accept the death certificates' but at the same time they stayed away from the !ommission out of fear$ %nother relati2e of a man reported missing during the war' in her statement to the !ommission' said that her relati2e from )ilinochchi went missing after he had gone to purchase milk powder$ % father of three' the man had lost his wife during the war and after he went missing his children ha2e been taken care of by his sister &el2eshwari$ &el2eshwari told the !ommission that on /001 .arch ,0 her sister-in-law died after being hit by a shell in )ilinochchi$ 7i2e days later her brother had gone to purchase milk powder after handing o2er his three children to her care$ Howe2er he ne2er returned home$ *His children keep asking me where their father is$ But + ha2e no response to gi2e them$ 8ou need to gi2e them answers'3 the weeping lady told the !ommission$ (ast time &e2eral others urged the !ommission to address their grie2ances and to ensure that this is the last time they need to gi2e statements to a !ommission$ They said that ha2ing to gi2e statements o2er and o2er again on the basis that it will help in2estigations into those reported missing is depressing and they urged the residential !ommission to gi2e them answers at least this time$ 92er the four days that the !ommission conducted hearings in the )ilinochchi "istrict ,:/ relati2es of people who were reported missing during the war ga2e statements$ +n all' hearings were conducted in nine 2illage di2isions in )ilinochchi as the first step and further hearings are to be conducted in other areas of the #orth as well$ &ecretary to the !ommission H$W$ 5unadasa said that following the initial in2estigations the reports on ,:/ cases ha2e been handed o2er to the %ttorney 5eneral6s "epartment$ He said that if there are any cases in2ol2ing missing persons which need further in2estigations reports relating to those people will be further e;amined$ *92er the four day period <<0 people came to lodge complaints to the !ommission$ But we did not ha2e time to look into all of them' so we hope to ha2e further hearings in the )ilinochchi

area$ But o2erall we feel we conduct our work successfully within the four days with the assistance of the public'3 he added$ 5unadasa said that as the ne;t step' the residential !ommission will conduct hearings on the disappeared in the .ullaiti2u "istrict$ (ast year a ci2il society organisation in .annar claimed that o2er /=00 people ha2e been reported missing in the #orth during the war$ The organi>ation handed o2er data on those missing to the residential commission in2estigating alleged disappearances$ The data stated that in the ?affna "istrict 10< people are still missing while in )ilinochchi the number of missing stands at :,0' @a2uniya ,-,' .annar ,=- and .ullaiti2u <:- people$ resident .ahinda Ra4apaksa had last year directed &ecretary to the resident (alith Weeratunga to appoint the commission to look into the incidents of disappearances that ha2e taken place during the =0-year conflict$ The (essons (earnt and Reconciliation !ommission A((R!B appointed by resident Ra4apaksa in .ay /0,0 to in2estigate alleged human rights 2iolations' recommended to probe disappearances and alleged human rights 2iolations during the conflict$ The !ommission while stressing that &ri (anka military has not deliberately targeted ci2ilians' recommended that the go2ernment should appoint a special commissioner to look into the alleged disappearances and pro2ide material to the %ttorney 5eneral6s "epartment to initiate criminal proceedings as appropriate$ C# e;perts While the 5o2ernment conducts its own in2estigations into those missing' a panel of independent Cnited #ations e;perts had last year had begun in2estigating new or e;isting cases of disappearances in &ri (anka and se2eral other countries$ The C# Working 5roup on Enforced or +n2oluntary "isappearances re2iewed under their urgent action procedure more than <00 newly reported or e;isting cases in more than /D countries including &ri (anka$ The international community has been calling for a credible and transparent in2estigation into those missing during the conflict$ The European Cnion AECB "elegation in &ri (anka had said that thousands of people disappeared during the war and while many cases date back to the unrest in the south in the ,1E0s and ,1-0s' others are much more recent' affecting people across the country' during and after the war$ %gainst this backdrop' the EC "elegation said it hopes the residential !ommission will approach its important and challenging task with determination and independence' helping to ensure credible and transparent in2estigations consistent with international standards$

The "elegation also encouraged &ri (anka to draw on the support of international partners who may be able to assist with this challenging task$ The EC said that dealing with past disappearances' and pre2enting new ones' are important steps in helping the country to mo2e forward$