01/26/2021, 15.48
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Eleven years after Prageeth Eknaligoda went missing, the battle for justice continues

by Melani Manel Perera

The journalist and activist disappeared on 24 January 2010. Suspicions have fallen on the state apparatus and the Rajapaksa brothers. In memory of him, his wife Sandaya Eknaligoda created a website to help search for missing persons. Determined, she “will go on with no intention of backing down or interrupting my attempt.”

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Yesterday evening, a memorial service was held for Prageeth Eknaligoda, a journalist who was abducted in 2010 under mysterious circumstances and whose fate remains unknown.

“One thing I want to say to the Rajapaksa (brothers): even if you kill a man named Prageeth Eknaligoda, the genes of that man, the creations of that man, the thoughts of that man, and what he built cannot be killed,” said Sandaya Eknaligoda, the journalist’s wife. “They will be taken forward by Prageeth’s children for the people who seek justice in this country, for the rule of law, and for building a better country.”

Over the past 11 years, she has been fighting for justice in a murky case where suspicions have fallen on high-ranking government officials and the two brothers who have been in power in Sri Lanka. For a long time.

In the recent past, her quest for justice has fallen on deaf ears. Not only that, in her tireless fight for the truth together with her two children, who are now teenagers, she has had to face many challenges, threats and pressures, insults and tearful incidents.

This is an enormous burden that only a woman with courage and willpower could bear. Together with other brave mothers (of missing Tamils and Muslims), she set up a website dedicated to Sri Lanka’s “missing”.

On 24 January, the 11th anniversary of Prageeth Eknaligoda’s death was commemorated. His fate remains unknown.

The website is the best way devised by his wife to keep his memory alive; it contains news and documents about missing people and mysterious kidnappings. At the same time, it allows the families of the victims to renew their quest for justice and truth.

Last night's event, which was organised by the Eknaligoda Forum in collaboration with Sandhaya Eknalligoda, was held from 4 to 6 pm at the N. M. Perera Centre in Colombo, respecting COVID-19 pandemic regulations.

In addition to the people authorised to participate, many others were able to follow the speeches and the discussions via live streaming.

“The search of Prageeth was not at all easy for me,” Sandhaya told AsiaNews. “On the one hand, I had to face the daily struggle of life alone, with two children to raise; on the other hand, in parallel, there was my struggle in search of Prageeth.

"In the past 11 years only my conscience knows how I managed to survive without money, without food, without anything to offer my children. I am here today because my family, my friends, and my allies have been close in all possible ways.”

Sandaya says she is not seeking compassion or relief from pain; her only goal, as well as a reason for living, is to find out what happened to her husband, what Prageeth's true fate is.

“There has been some progress in the search, but disappointment, frustration and despair are far greater. However, I will go on with no intention of backing down or interrupting my attempt.”

Activists and leading human rights advocates, who were present at yesterday's event, back her struggle.

For former Sri Lanka High Commissioner for Human Rights Ramani Muttetuwegama, the journalist’s mysterious disappearance is an integral part of the state structure.

“Disappearances can be done at the discretion of the state and can be stopped at any time they want. Such a situation exists in Sri Lanka,” Muttetuwegama said.

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Sandhaya's fight for her husband, "seized" by the government


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