Nandakumar, thatched coconut leaves with his infant daughter cradled in his lap during the Sinhala / Tamil New Year gathering of the survivors, organized by the Kandy Human Rights Office. Nandakumar participated in the 2017 celebration of the dawn of the New Year which was held at the Fatima church premises Padiwatte with 175 victims and their family members participating in various events on the 22nd April
The chief guest, the senior superintendent of police Mr. Edmund Mahendra along with the guests of honor Mrs. Kumudini Vithana, the Kandy Regional Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Fazrul Rahaman Moulavi, the Parish Priest of Fatima Church Padiwatte, Rev. Fr. Timothy Gnanapragasam, Rev. Sr. Philomena, the superior of the Padiwatte Convent and Fr. Nandana Manatunga lit the traditional oil lamp inaugurating the days events.
The staff of the Human Rights Office and the members of the support group organized several traditional New Year events for the participants of different age groups. The participants consisted of survivors of rape, torture, the families of the disappeared and of the prisoners. It was another occasion for the survivors to meet, greet each other and renew their friendships and collaboration with one objective namely to seek Justice and Redress.
There were few group events in which all the participants joined with excitement irrespective of age. The Annual gathering of the New year celebrations brought together not only the survivors but also their family members uniting them as a larger family leaving aside differences of language , religions and ethnicity. The survivors from Central province, North-Central, Uva, Sabaragamuva and from Western provinces reached the venue early in the morning with the wish, to be distracted from their daily routine.
The chief guest Edmond Mahendra addressing the gathering stated that the Police officers although are expected to provide security and protection to the civilians, at times incidents of Torture are being reported to him by the Human Rights Office. The SSP referred to his long standing relationship with Fr Nandana and said he would always comply to the requests made by him. Further Mr. Mahendra invited the participants to call on him when his intervention is needed.
For the survivors, the occasion and the activities were a relaxation as well as a healing, hence it was another memorable occasion for them. There were special events organized for the staff and the members of the support group by the end of the celebration and prizes were distributed to the winners of different events held during the celebration by the guests of honor.
The climax of the 2017 Sinhala / Tamil New Year gathering of survivors was the sharing of food by all the participants as a sign of unity, peace and solidarity.
Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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