01/21/2020, 13.03
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Civil war: Rajapaksa admits that 20,000 missing people are dead

About 100,000 people died during the civil war (1983-2009). President’s announcement dashes any hope thousands of families had about their missing relatives. People now can fill out death certificates to have access to the assets of the missing.

Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The more than 20,000 people who disappeared during Sri Lanka’s civil war, mostly Tamils, are dead, admits Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was recently elected president of Sri Lanka.

His brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who led the government that defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 and ended more than 25 years of bloodshed, had always denied it.

The president made the admission yesterday during a meeting with Hanaa Singer, United Nations resident coordinator in Colombo.

Mr Rajapaksa noted that it will soon be possible to fill out death certificates for the missing.

This dashes any hope thousands of families might have had about the fate of their loved ones. With the certificates, they will be able to access the properties, bank accounts and inheritance of the missing.

Sri Lanka’s civil war (1983-2009) pitted the country’s military against Tamil Tiger rebels.

The latter dreamt of creating an independent state, Tamil Eelam, in Tamil majority areas, in the north and east of the island.

In total, it is estimated that at least 100,000 people died during the conflict. According to human rights groups, both sides committed atrocities.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s former administration has always denied any responsibility for the dead and missing, but a UN report confirmed that abuses and war crimes were committed.

Under international pressure, former president Maithripala Sirisena set up an independent body in 2017, the Office for Missing Persons (OMP), to find out what happened but it never produced any results.

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