10/30/2007, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Religious and Civil society leaders against the “crime” of disappearances

by Melani Manel Perera
Over 600 people from every race and creed celebrated the World Day for Disappeared in Raddoluwa. Relatives denounce government indifference. Only Iraq outstrips Sri Lanka for the number of disappeared people.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sinhalese and Tamil, Buddhist and Christian  in 600 they gathered in prayer before the monument to the disappeared in Raddoluwa, Seeduwa, 30 km north of Colombo. The occasion was the 17th edition of the World day for the Disappeared, celebrated on October 27th last.

Fr.Sathiyavali, of a nearby parish was also present at the service.  In his address to participants he invited the leaders of religious and civil society to take on their responsibilities: “we must be ready to sacrifice ourselves and do something to build a stable society without crime and disappearances”.

A 68 year old Buddhist woman, Nandawathi Dias, came to Raddoluwa to remember her husband and two sons both missing since December 1989.  She told AsiaNews: “while on his way home my 19 year-old sons disappeared.  The following morning my husband and other son went to look for him, and then they disappeared. After that I went to our police but I was told ' you also want to same thing happen. So I ran away”. The government’s compensation is both ridiculous and humiliating for the families of the disappeared. Nandawathi received 50 thousand rupees for her husband, and 25 thousand and 15 thousand for her two sons: sums which vary between 150 and 500 Euros.

For almost two years now Sri Lanka has once again been thrown into civil war and the worsening conflict has brought with it an alarming increase in kidnappings and the so-called “disappearances”, a euphemism used to describe even summary executions.  In the last year and a half alone over 1100 cases have been registered.  Since the ‘80’s the number has risen to 60 thousand people between Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim.  The government’s incapacity to stop these “disappearances” is no surprise given that in many of these cases the security forces and paramilitaries are implicated along with the Tiger rebels.

According to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the number of disappeared people in Sri Lanka is second only to Iraq.

 

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