01/28/2013, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Sandhaya's fight for her husband, "seized" by the government

by Melani Manel Perera
Prageeth Eknaligoda, a journalist and political cartoonist, disappeared in 2010 without trace. For his wife, he was seized because of his opposition to current President Rajapaksa. She told AsiaNews that she would continue to fight despite the lack of money for herself and her children.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - "I have a mission to accomplish, which my husband paid with his life. Despite the hardships, I shall continue to fight for him, our children and all those who face the same experience," Sandhaya Eknaligoda told AsiaNews. She is the wife of Prageeth Eknaligoda, a political cartoonist and journalist who disappeared three years ago.

Prageeth vanished on 24 January 2010 just before the elections that saw current President Mahinda Rajapaksa defeat former General Sarath Fonseka. He worked for an independent online publication that backed Fonseka. For this reason, his family has always blamed Rajapaksa supporters for his disappearance.

As in previous years, Sandhaya took part in a silent protest in front of parliament. She was accompanied by her two children as well as members of the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM), journalists, activists and opposition political leaders.

Since her husband's disappearance, she has not has any peace and everyday life has been un uphill battle for her. Jobless, she has no steady income to maintain her two children. Finding her husband has also become almost impossible from a financial point of view.

"My brother and others are helping us but I do not want to be a burden because they too have to make sacrifices," she said.

During her struggle, she has often had to turned to the government for help.

She did the same with Mohan Peiris, the new chief justice of the Supreme Court, who represented Sri Lanka before a United Nations committee on human rights.

"Last year, he [Peiris] said that my husband had sought political asylum in another country," Sandhaya Eknaligoda explained. "If that is the case, why don't they bring him back?"

"Prageeth has done nothing wrong," she went to say. "All that I and my children ask from the government of Sri Lanka is to have our beloved father and husband back."

Sister Deepa Fernando of the Sacred Family attended last Thursday's protest. "Sandhaya's fight and that of all the women who lost loved ones should make us reflect on our commitment, as women and as nuns," she said.

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