INTER-RELIGIOUS ALMS GIVING
An inter-religious Alms giving organized by the parents of the disappeared was held on the 30th August 2012 at Kandy Ampitiya, St Mary's Church Parish hall. It was the third such event organized by the Human Rights office Kandy with the parents of the disappeared in the Central province to commemorate their loved ones on the International day of the Disappeared.
The annual commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared aims to draw attention to those people who have been imprisoned without their friends or relatives knowing where or why; also to highlight the work of those organizations who campaign against secret imprisonment and work to support the “disappeared” and their families.
In the last 40 years, the governments of Sri Lanka have used forced disappearances as a tool to suppress dissent and combat the internal armed conflict. Since 1971, there has been continuous use of enforced disappearances as a tool by the state, for what they referred to as the maintenance of "law and order". When people disappear in connection with armed conflict or other violence, their relatives endure terrible suffering as they struggle to find out what happened.
The parents of the disappeared organized this event in a very meaningful way to honor all victims of enforced disappearance and to tell the world of the seriousness of the offense and ensure non-repetition.
Buddhist monks, Buddhist nuns, Catholic priests, nuns and the parents of the disappeared gathered at the Ampitiya junction from where the procession began. They walked with ‘Hevisi’ drums beaten announcing the crowds of the event and the procession moved to the parish hall.
In a traditional Buddhist style the Almas giving was served to all the priests and religious after a sermon was preached by the Buddhist monk consoling the families and relatives of the disappeared, he said that most of the victims were breadwinners, hence the disappearance not only caused emotional and psychological anguish, but also economic dislocation to the surviving families, further the prelate appreciated the efforts of the Human Rights Office in bringing the religious leaders together." It is a new experience for the Buddhist monks to come for an Alms giving to a catholic church".
Closing the event Fr. Nandana Manatunga, the director of the Human Rights office addressed the gathering and said that the enforced disappearance is one of the worst human rights violations. As a huge number of people throughout the world are affected by this scourge. It is imperative for civil society and governments to forge solidarity in bringing to an end the practice of enforced disappearance and to ensure that the right to truth, justice, reparation and memory are guaranteed".
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Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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