A report compiled by Yasmin Sooka, a former member of the UN panel of experts on Sri Lanka appointed by UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon, has revealed the names of 110 people said to have gone missing following the war.
The list by the International Truth and Justice Project – Sri Lanka (ITJP) comprises the names of 110 people seen surrendering to the military on 18 May 2009 by eyewitnesses who have now fled the country.
The report noted that on the 18 May 2009, a large number of witnesses saw more than a hundred LTTE military and civilian administration leaders surrender to the Sri Lankan army. The vast majority of these people have subsequently disappeared and, according to eyewitnesses, were last seen in the custody of the Sri Lankan military.
“Those who surrendered on 18 May 2009 were screened and put in a barbed wire holding area just south of the Wadduvakkal Bridge, which was in the control of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Many surrendered with an elderly Catholic Priest, Father Francis Joseph, who recorded the names of surrendees in a list for the military,” the report said.
The report notes that many eyewitnesses saw these prisoners, and in some cases their family members, loaded on a series of buses and taken away by the military. They and the priest have not been seen since being taken custody of by the military.
“These eyewitnesses live outside of Sri Lanka as they fear for their security and reprisals against family members. The ITJP is cognisant of the fact that some of the people on the list may have been released from detention after many years, without the knowledge of our witnesses. We are also aware that eyewitnesses inside Sri Lanka and family members have also registered complaints or filed court cases regarding the disappearance of additional people who surrendered on 18 May 2009,” the report added.
ITJP called on the government of Sri Lanka to undertake credible investigations into the forced disappearance of the more than a hundred people who disappeared while surrendering to the military on this day six years ago and to indict, prosecute and convict those responsible. (Colombo Gazette)