Colombo (AsiaNews) – Some 30 Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese widows said that they are willing to "forgive the killers, whoever they are and for whatever crime they committed against our loved ones; however, we want to know the truth about what happened to our husbands, sons, and brothers."
They spoke at a meeting organised by the Families of the Disappeared (FOD), an association that help the relatives of civil war victims. The event was held in Negombo about 40 km away from the capital, on the island nation’s west coast.
"We do not want to punish those who harmed” the victims, some participants told AsiaNews. “We just want them to come home. We want to know what happened to them and where they are."
This is the first time since the end of the civil war that pitted the army against Tamil Tiger rebels between 1983 and 2009 that the families of victims and missing people have shown some willingness to forgive the perpetrators.
During the meeting, the women appealed to the government, which recently returned land to displaced Tamils. "Please, tell us the truth. If they are locked up in detention camps, please let them out! We do not want to know where the camps are; we just want them to come home.”
“If you killed them, tell us when and why they suffered such an unjust fate. We have a right to know, because the missing people are our loved ones: our beloved sons, husbands, brothers and sisters."
The meeting provided an opportunity to share information about missing people. Victims’ families did not limit their research to the northern and eastern provinces (where most of the civil war took place), but broadened its scope to the whole island, hoping to find answers.
In their testimony, people related how their loved ones were taken from their villages, brought to police stations or army barracks where they were arrested on false charges. "They surrendered, and never came back."
For the women, the ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ attitude towards the harm received did not bring any results so far. "For this reason, we must forgive and seek justice right away. We have been demonstrating, protesting, and marching for our relatives for far too long."
Relatives of the victims are ecstatic about the UN war crimes resolution that last week blamed again former President Rajapaksa for abuses.
They also approve the government’s decision to set up an independent inquiry "but the timing of implementation is too long. We need a peaceful environment to live in, after so many years of suffering. "
Finally, FOD president Fernando Brito said that his association would continue to provide support to the relatives of the disappeared. "We will provide them with support during the trials as well,” he said. “We need to move forward with a new positive attitude. We must use nonviolence to achieve our goals."