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Protesters demand action on disappeared people

More than 20 disappeared in three months

Protesters demand action on disappeared people
Activists and family members demonstrate at a monument to the disappeared
ucanews.com reporter, Raddoluwa
Sri Lanka

October 29, 2012

More than 1,000 protesters, including religious leaders, gathered on Saturday in Raddoluwa to pressure the government into criminalizing enforced disappearances.

"We urge the criminalization of disappearances and the appointment of an independent commission to investigate disappearances," said Father Jeyabalan Croos at a rally in Raddulowa, 35 kms north of Colombo, on Saturday.

“A silent war is spreading in the northern and eastern part of the country. People disappear and nobody knows what is going on,” he told the gathering at a monument commemorating disappeared people.

"So many people are missing, including a Catholic priest," he said.

There were 21 suspected enforced disappearances reported in local English media in the 100 days between April 1 and July 9 of this year.

"The government would have ample power to criminalize enforced disappearances if it really wanted to win the hearts of these people,” said Professor Chandraguptha Thenuwara, a lecturer at Colombo University.

The recommendations from the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission set up after the civil war included an investigation into the circumstances of the disappeared and bringing those responsible to justice.

A woman who did not want to be named said her husband went missing eight years ago.

"My husband went missing in 2004 after he had gone fishing," said the mother of four children.

"Since that day I have walked to 175 camps in search of him… I went to temples and begged God to bring my husband back," she said. "I believe he is still alive somewhere."

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