Commemorating the International day of the Victims of the Enforced Disappearances 2020, the families of the disappeared along with the Human Rights Office organized a Human Rights market place on the 30th August 2020 at St. Paul the Hermit Church in Digana, Kandy Sri Lanka.
The Human Rights market place comprised of fruits, vegetables, eatables and products of the families of the disappeared that attracted the people to the market place. The photos of the disappeared that were exhibited behind each stall explained the sad story of each disappeared person and the very purpose of the families of the disappeared to organize a market place. Further memories of the disappeared persons were recalled when they narrated the cruel disappearing incidents by the family members, while the business at the market place continued. “There is not a day that passed by without the memories haunting” the mothers lamented while tears flowed down their cheeks.
It was an opportunity for the families of the disappeared to speak about their loved ones who were made to disappear. Further they explained the reason for their campaign; they all wanted to know “THE TRUTH”. What really happened to them.
Mrs. Sandya Eknaligoda whose husband Prageeth Eknaligoda was made to disappear ten years ago also joined the campaign at the market place and there were several journalists who interviewed her and the other members of the families of the disappeared.
Soon after the Sunday service at Digana Church, people walked into the market as they were already prepared during the service. The disappearances day was explained at length during the introduction and the theme was connected to the day’s liturgy and the homilies given by the celebrants Fr. Nandana Manatunga & Fr. Christy Paul in Sinhala and in Tamil. The market place was declared opened by the Parish Priest of Digana, Rev. Fr Christy Paul.
Families of the disappeared demand the consecutive governments to deliver justice, truth and reparation to the families of the forcibly disappeared.
Speaking to Media, Fr. Nandana said that “The commemoration is a sad reminder of the painfully long wait of families of forcibly disappeared for answers about their loved ones; they have been denied the truth about their whereabouts”. Further he said the Office of the Missing Persons is also gradually disappearing and the allocated funds by the previous budget as reparation were not received by the families and their future hopes are deemed. Some families in the north of the forcibly disappeared have been holding outdoor vigils continuously for over 1,300 days’ search for justice and answers remains elusive.
It is only by keeping alive the memories of the disappeared and the event could prevent further repetition of events. The poster printed by the HRO was distributed widely, invited the citizens to commemorate the disappeared and prevent disappearances.
Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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