“CALLS FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE MISSING TO THEIR FAMILIES”
Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) urges Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wikramasinghe to clarify his statement that thousands of Tamils who surrendered to the Sri Lankan Security forces are no longer alive. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister made this statement on January 15th in Jaffna, when he spoke at a celebration of Thai Pongal, a Hindu festival.
The Prime Minister’s comments sent shock-waves through the thousands of Tamil families who still do not know the fate of family members who peacefully surrendered to Sri Lankan Security Forces in May 2009. Large groups of civilians, including women and children voluntarily placed themselves in the hands of the security forces at the end of the conflict in reliance on assurances that they would be safe and ultimately released. Since then thousands more have been arrested or have disappeared and their fate also remains unknown.
International law recognizes that the families of the missing have the “Right to Know the Truth” with respect to the fate of their loved ones. On December 15, 2015, Sri Lanka signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Article 21 of the convention recognizes the continued victimization of the families of those who have disappeared and grants these victims the “right to know the truth regarding the circumstances…and the fate of the disappeared person[s].”
The TGTE urges Prime Minister Wikramasinghe, in the strongest terms, to make public the basis of his statement that the thousands who surrendered to the Security Forces are no longer alive and to provide concrete information about the location of their bodies so that the families can finally have some closure. Any continued failure of the Sri Lankan government to provide such concrete information prolongs the suffering of the families of the missing; constitutes an ongoing violation of their human rights, and constitutes an ongoing failure by Sri Lanka to fulfill its obligations under international law as well as its obligations under Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/30/1 (15 October 2015).
This new revelation reconfirms the Tamils’ firm belief that Tamils will only get justice through an international mechanism such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), said the TGTE and urged the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Security Council to refer Sri Lanka to the ICC.
It is disturbing that the same security forces that committed mass atrocities remain stationed in large numbers in Tamil areas.