‘Those not among prison population either perished during war or living overseas’
by Shamindra Ferdinando
Accusations that Tamil youth were being held in secret detention camps were baseless, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told a gathering of Buddhist clergy at Rukmale Sri Dharmaloka Vijayaloka Mahaviharaya on Sunday (1).
Among the invitees at a felicitation ceremony for newly appointed Mahanayake Thera Ven. Iththapane Dharmalankara was Rt. Rev. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.
Premier Wickremesinghe emphasised that all those who had been taken into custody were being held in legally run facilities and, therefore, all detainees could be accounted for.
The Premier didn’t mince his words when he declared that those missing but not listed among those in government custody had either perished during the conflict or were now living overseas.
Authoritative sources said that Sri Lanka’s efforts to track down missing persons living overseas hadn’t been successful due to Western countries’ refusal to cooperate. Sources said that a joint effort was needed to establish the whereabouts of those who had assumed new identities and citizenship in other countries.
Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) leader Kumar Gunaratnam obtained a new Australian passport bearing the name Noel Mudalige had been once considered a missing person.
Another person who had been allegedly abducted and killed after the conclusion of the conflict was arrested in India, sources pointed out. Chance detection in May 2014 of Kathiravel Thayapararajah (33) brought an end to accusation that the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) had executed him. US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs and one-time US Ambassador in Colombo, Robert O. Blake inquired about that missing person, sources said.
Head of Missing Persons Commission, retired High Court Judge Maxwell Paranagama is also on record as having called for international cooperation to trace persons living overseas under new identities.