Colombo (AsiaNews) - On the occasion of the important Buddhist feast of Vesak, which begins May 20, the National Peace Council (NCP), a human rights group, asks the government for greater respect, especially for members of the Tamil minority, and for the immediate release of the Tamil journalist J. S. Tissainayagam, detained on March 7 because of presumed ties with the terrorist group of the Tamil Tigers, although no specific accusations have been made yet.
In the statement, the NPC recalls the many cases of kidnappings and disappearances of Tamils in the area of Colombo, like the rape of two young women and the kidnapping of one on the day of the elections for the eastern provincial council, when there was a massive police presence in the area. The statement says that "the police reportedly sent away [the mother who had gone to report her daughter's kidnapping] on the grounds that most officers were on election duty. Later that same night the men returned and took the elder girl away. She is missing since then. The fact that the police refused to accept their complaint indicates state culpability in the practice of impunity" enjoyed by the kidnappers.
Those who have disappeared also include Sinnathurai Varatharajan, a respected teacher kidnapped together with his cousin in the heart of Colombo by armed men in uniform. "They were allegedly taken away by armed men in uniform who came in a white van", the NPC charges. "Witnesses were told that they were being taken away for questioning, but they have not reappeared".
The statement also condemns the homicide, on May 13, of Maheswari Velayutham (in the photo), adviser to Social services and Welfare minister Dougles Devananda, who had escaped a previous attack and had remained to do her work, in spite of the danger, including helping the victims of the war in progress.
"The government should do away with the culture of impunity", the group concludes. "It is the duty of any state to protect all its citizens. The state by its failure to protect Tamil civilians may give a message to the world that it is the state of the ethnic majority and excludes the Tamils", who for that reason could decide to support separatist groups. The feast of Vesak is seen as an opportunity to extend compassion and respect to all, as taught by the Buddha.