The International day of the Disappeared scheduled for the 30th August was commemorated on the 15th September 2018 The programme was organized by the Human Rights office Kandy and held at the OMI Scholasticate in Ampitiya Kandy Sri Lanka.
Staff and members of the support group joined 59 Participants from the families of the disappeared from Mannara, Jaffna and from Kandy for the event. An introduction to the day's programme was given by the Director of the Human Rights office Rev. Fr. Nandana Manatunga which was followed by stories of abduction and enforced disappearances. Two women from the North and two from the south narrated their stories. Even though the abductions and enforced disappearances took place several years ago, for the wives and mothers who narrated the dreadful incidents that made their sons and husbands disappear, they were fresh in their hearts and minds.
Mrs. S. Sebamani from Parrapakandal Mannar narrated the story of the abduction of her two sons by the Armed forces during the civil war and made them to disappear, she said that she is still waiting for their return as she never saw their bodies and believe that they are still alive. Further she said the government offered her some money but asked her to return the money, in case if her sons return. Ms. J. Sagayaseeli from Kalikattukadi Jaffna elaborated the story of the abduction of her only brother.
The two women from the South, Mrs. Sujatha Manike & Mrs. Kumari Beligala narrated their stories, how their husbands were abducted by the police during the JVP insurrection and later learnt that their bodies were dumped by the roadside.
A very timely presentation was done on OMP by Mr. Sampath Samarakoon that led to several questions and clarifications. Sampath made it clear that the testimonies given to the OMP would be kept confidential and therefore the fear of further abduction will not happen. He further reiterated that the OMP will address the cases of missing and disappeared persons irrespective of ethnicity, religion and region, as the office has been established to serve all affected victims. Despite the passage of time and multiple commissions established by successive governments, many of these families, not knowing the fate of their loved ones continue to suffer and remain engaged in a search for truth.
Sampath assured that the missing and disappeared cases that the OMP would examine cover both civilians and combatants, including several thousand members of the Armed Forces, Police and Civil Defense Force who have been identified as missing in action, in addition to members of various armed groups who were party to Sri Lanka's conflict.
Following the meaningful "Disappearances day programme" the 06 women's groups from North and South followed the psych-social workshop until the 17th September evening which was designed and conducted by Monica Alfred. The groups had several activities for interaction and enjoyed the calm atmosphere and the natural beauty of the surroundings of the Ampitiya seminary walking through the "Emillion".
A cultural night on the 17th September was organized by the women to which the support group members of the Human Rights office joined. The disappeared families expressed their fraternity “Fighting for a common cause” and as each group expressed emotions through cultural items, drama, songs and dance.
Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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