Today is the “International Day of the Disappeared. August 30th marks the International Day of the Missing to highlight the fate of the countless people who have disappeared worldwide as a result of armed and politically motivated violence.
On this day the people should be reminded that there are people held in secret detention camps against their will. Their relatives are not informed about the location or state of the disappeared. Although such internment would be a violation of human rights and, in the event of an armed conflict, a violation of international humanitarian law, internment camps for political prisoners are still being established worldwide.
This type of human rights violation is still practiced today in Sri Lanka. During the civil war Eelam Tamils were repeatedly arrested, tortured, and interrogated in secret internment camps. At the peak of the Civil War in May 2009, several internment camps were built to hold those who surrendered as prisoners who were then subjected to brutal torture. Many of the Eelam Tamils were not released from the internment camps.
The United Nations estimated that at the peak of the civil war at least 70,000 Eelam Tamils were killed. However, Reverend Father Rayappu Joseph carried out a count of the missing and found 146,679 Eelam Tamils are, still unaccounted for nine years after they were taken away by the Sri Lankan Army. To date, the Sri Lankan government has not investigated the cases of missing persons. To date, there are still other torture camps in which Eelam Tamils are still being held, and to this day the relatives do not know where the missing persons are.
The Government of Sri Lanka has so far failed to deliver the promises made to the international community regarding the treatment of the missing persons. The relatives of the disappeared in Mullaithivu have been continuing a vigil for over 150 days with special prayers held at Wattrapaalai Kannagi Amman Kovil in Mullaitivu. A week ago, a human rights activist seeking information on thousands of disappeared Tamils was threatened and attacked by men to abandon the vigil.
According to the British Freedom from Torture (FFT), this is the sixth year in a row that Sri Lanka was named as the No. 1 state leading in torture. This referral includes persons who have been imprisoned and tortured since the inauguration of the current government in 2015. A significant number of people have also reported that they were tortured when they visited Sri Lanka after they have been in the UK.
Previously, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), based in Johannesburg, South Africa, published details of 57 cases of abduction, torture and/or sexual violence by Sri Lanka’s security forces, which occurred in 2016/17. “Everyone can say that there is a new government, but there were only a few superficial changes while rape, torture, and abduction are still continuing. Nothing has changed,” a torture victim from Sri Lanka was quoted by FFT.
Today, on the International Day of the Disappeared, we would like to remind you of the 146,679 missing Eelam Tamils and urge the international community to carry out an independent investigation into war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide and alleviate the deep pain and anguish experienced by the kith and kin of the disappeared.
We call on the international community to stop the ongoing genocide and bring those leaders responsible for these crime to justice. We demand justice and freedom for the Eelam Tamil people.