"This matter is by no means settled"
[TamilNet, Sunday, 05 December 1999, 16:21 GMT]
The Missing Persons Guardian Association (MPGA) and the Consortium of the Non Governmental Agencies (NGO) in Jaffna launched a hunger strike today, demanding the Sri Lankan government take prompt and concrete steps to trace those who went missing whilst in Sri Lankan military custody.
The hunger strike commenced as scheduled today morning at about 8.30 in front of the Jaffna office of the Human Rights Commission.
About 250 parents and relatives of the missing persons participated in today's hunger strike.
According to the organisers, majority of parents and guardians are living in the hope that their beloved ones are still alive in prisons or rehabilitation camps, and not buried in shallow graves in the peninsula as many human rights groups such as Amnesty International suspect.
Those participating in the hunger strike were seen holding placards, written with slogans. Some of the slogans were:
"Madam President, Goddess Kannagi (Paththini) burned down Madurai in South India demanding justice. Like that, our tears will destroy your government"
"Chandrika's government gives election promises to the south and death certificates to the north".
Meanwhile the Consortium of the Non Governmental Agencies in Jaffna has told President Chandrika Kumaratunge that the security of the citizens is her responsibility, according to the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
The abdication of this responsibility will be tantamount to losing one's right to be the Head of State, the organisation said in a letter sent today to the President on the subject "Disappeared Persons in the Jaffna peninsula".
Referring to the letters sent by the Ministry of Defence to the relatives and parents of over 355 disappeared persons that their missing kith and kin could not be traced, the Consortium states that the lack of moral sensitivity apparent in those stereotype letters should shock any human being.
The letter further states:
"The letters sent by the Defense Ministry state with callous indifference that over 355 of them cannot be traced. The tone of the letters suggests that this is the end of the matter.
"The statement that the fate of the reportedly disappeared persons cannot be found out, has been made concerning even those identified beyond doubt in the Chemmani exhumations.
"How perfunctory, utterly inefficient and ridiculous the investigation has been.
"Furthermore,some letters relate to cases about whom the next-of-kin had earlier been informed by the relevant authorities that they were alive, kept in some detention centre.
"What has subsequently become of these detainees ? Surely this is incriminating.
"Madam, the matter is by no means settled. The stark fact is that people have been arbitrarily arrested by security personnel and they have to be accounted for.
"The investigation will not be complete until and unless those of the security personnel in authority during the period of disappearances are brought to book.
"We wish to draw your attention to the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
"All acts of enforced disappearance shall be offences under the criminal law..."( Art 4.1). "...enforced disappearances render their perpetrators and the State or State authorities which organise, acquiesce or tolerate such disappearances liable at civil law...." (Art 5).
"Needless to say, Madam, that as the Head of State, the security of the citizen is ultimately your responsibility. To abdicate this responsibility will be, in our opinion,tantamount to losing one's right to be the Head of State.
"We, therefore, appeal to you in the name of justice to sort out the matter of disappeared persons without prolonging the ordeal any further."