War-affected Tamil families have expressed their deep anguish against the international community and accused them of not acting to ensure justice.

Tamil mothers, sisters, and wives handed over thousands of Tamils young and old to the Sri Lankan state security forces at the end of the war. They either surrendered or were handed over by the families or forcefully taken away by the armed forces only to be never seen again.

Even after 15 years since the brutal civil war came to a bloody end, the state has not even found one single person handed over to them by the grieving mothers.

Now, the Tamil women who have been leading a peaceful protest for over 8 years say the international community has not contributed in a meaningful way in their fight and quest for justice for those who are still missing.

The women-led peaceful struggle in search of their kith and kin is considered to be the longest such protest globally in recent times.

In a unified voice, the Tamil women from the eight districts staging eight protests throughout the past week in the North and East of Sri Lanka demanding justice for their disappeared ones and seeking accountability said they look forward to the international community alone.

“We the Tamil mothers fighting for justice, don’t expect any such thing from the Sri Lankan government,” said Kokilavani Kathirgamanathan who led the protest from the forecourt of the Kanthaswamy temple in Kilinochchi.


She is also the leader of the Association for the Relatives of the Enforced Disappearances (ARED) in the district. The ARED is a grassroots activist group created to search for the tens of thousands of people who disappeared during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict.

“Our fight will continue till we get our relatives back. The struggle will continue till we are alive. We are not asking for any compensation or our relatives from the Sri Lankan government. We seek the return of our relatives from the international community. Only the international community could get justice for our missing relatives”.

In a similar protest held on June 26 in the war-torn Mullaitivu district, the leader of the ARED in that district Mariasuresh Eswary said they seek justice from the international community who helped the Sri Lankan state to launch a massacre.


‘International Community aware’


“What happened to our relatives? Where are our relatives? Are they alive or not? What did they do to our relatives after taking them from us? They should be punished and justice must be rendered to us. Only the international community helped the state to destroy us. So, we are demanding justice from them. Only they know where they are being kept”.  

The grieving mothers, sisters, and wives are unrelenting and have vowed to carry on their peaceful protest and fight till they see their relatives return to them, if they do not know the truth as to what happened to them and who was behind any heinous acts. They demand accountability to be ensured and proper answers and actions to follow.

Yogarasa Kanakaranjani heads the ARED combine in the North and East. Only an international mechanism can deliver justice, she said at the end of the 2687th day of their ongoing protest in Killinochi on June 30.

“We are seeking justice for ourselves from the international community. The Sri Lankan government has not rendered justice for us nor will they do it. Hence, those who feel human rights are dear to them should get justice for us. We are fighting amidst intelligence sleuths. The diaspora without falling prey for money should stand united and get the due justice for us”.

Manuel Uthayachandra is the chair of the ARED in Mannar district. She accuses the Sri Lankan government of not letting them know the fate of their children. She said so while leading a protest in that district on June 28, adding the government is resorting to appointing a new commission every year.

“The government has formed 14 commissions in 14 years. The commission came to Mannar also under the guise of Truth and Reconciliation. We don’t know if the truth exists in our country. Similarly, we don’t know if reconciliation exists at all. Such agony should not have occurred to the Tamil race. We are only asking for the children handed over to you, those children who surrendered as families and those who were abducted in white vans, and not those children who are dead”.


A similar question was raised by Sivapatham Elankothai, President of the ARED in Jaffna. She questioned if the Tamil mothers longing to see their children handed over to the armed forces would die without seeing them. She was in tears during the protest on the first of July.

“On May 18, all our children surrendered. Families by families they surrendered. Those who survived the constant cluster bombing surrendered. Over 100 children and parents surrendered with Father Francis. They were told they would be released after inquiries. People were also made to surrender at Vattuvakkal. The Army told them they would be released after inquiries. It’s 15 years now. We are afraid we would be dead before rescuing our children”. 

Local journalists say ARED staged protests on June 27th at Amparai and in Trincomalee and Vavuniya on June 30.


OMP Pressure

Protests seeking answers about their missing relatives also continued in the eastern part of Sri Lanka as well. Amalanayaki Amalraj led one such protest by the ARED on June 24 in front of Gandhi Park in Batticaloa.

Those participating in the continuing protests by the ARED point out the Office for the Missing Persons (OMP) formed through an act of Parliament in February 2018 when the current President Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister, has not even found a single Tamil who had gone missing since the end of the war 15 years back.

The OMP also came in for strong criticism during the protests. Amalanayaki was furious over the duplicity of the OMP and its functioning.

“The Sri Lankan government brought in the OMP with a view to dubiously close the files about the missing persons by offering compensation through that office and misleading the people. We did not register at the OMP. They obtained the details from elsewhere and said they had obtained our documents and called upon us to come and register immediately. They also said only if we register with them we would get any benefits thereby misleading the already traumatized innocent mothers forcing them to receive death certificates saying only if they did so, they would receive benefits. The Sri Lankan government is dragging the time by forming a deceitful OMP or an internal mechanism regarding accountability”.

The physically and financially weak but emotionally strong Tamil mothers who have relentlessly carried on their struggle for over 8 years feel they may die without knowing the fate of their children, despite continuing their agitation in the scorching sun and pouring rains. But mothers’ like Amalanayaki Amalaraja are confident the youngsters will take forward the struggle seeking justice for those who have gone missing.

“We have lost more than 200 mothers who were searching for their relatives. The evidence is being destroyed. We exist as the physical witnesses who saw the happenings. The reason for dragging the issue is to see that we are dead and gone. The Sri Lankan government and those working with it think there won’t be anyone who would raise their voice for the missing ones, once we are dead and gone. But the young generation would take it forward,” she added.



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