Address the Missing Persons issue

In a letter to the President, the leader of the TNA Mr. R. Sampanthan had said that the the issue of missing persons is a serious issue and that demonstrations have been carried out by families of missing persons, both in the north and east for several months and  calls for the resolution of this issue as the Government has an obligation to the families of those missing to bring an end to their suffering.

Following is the full text of Mr. Sampanthan’s letter to the President.

You are aware that the issue of missing persons has been a serious issue and that both in the north and east for several months demonstrations have been carried out by families of missing persons for the resolution of this issue.

Many members of these families had either handed over their kith and kin to, or seen their kith and kin being taken into custody by the security forces. Substantial numbers of persons so taken into custody were young civilians not involved with any armed militancy.

l have met with many of the families of these missing persons and my last meeting was with families of missing persons in Kilinochchi on 12 July.

Some of the families of these missing persons have also met with your Excellency.

It would appear from all what I have been told by these families that there was a commitment by the Government to make public:

(i) The names of all persons who were in custody at the time your Excellency’s Government assumed office and the places in which they were held in custody

(ii) The names of persons now held in custody and the places in which they are now held in custody

(iii) That representatives of families of missing persons would be enabled to visit ‘secret’ detention camps in which some persons have allegedly been held in custody, and which these families have become aware of

(iv) That the Office of Missing Persons would be operationalised in terms of the law enacted in August last year and that through this process the families of these missing persons would have the opportunity through various steps that could be taken when the law becomes functional to bring this painful issue faced by the families to some acceptable closure.

This would bring to an end the trauma of uncertainty and the lack of any reliable information whatsoever, which the families currently face.

This is no doubt a very difficult issue but the Government has an obligation to the families of these missing persons who are its own citizens to enable them to bring their extreme trauma to an end.

I urge Your Excellency to outline a program inclusive of the matters I have outlined at (i), (ii) (iii) and (iv) above to address this issue of ‘missing persons’ in a meaningful and purposeful way.

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