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Disapperences: Sri Lanka government twisting UN numbers

The Committee for the Investigation into the  Disappeared (CID) in Sri Lanka is challenging the interpretation given by the government on numbers of missing people provided by UNICEF. “The Mahinda regime is giving a spin to facts in a losing battle to hide atrocities committed during the war and afterwards,” CID Director S Mahendran told UPU news. He was speaking at his at Slave Island, Colombo last week.

UNICEF in July producing an ‘Overview of ongoing government efforts to trace and reunify children in Northern Sri Lanka,’ reports that it received 2564 ‘tracing applications’ in Vavunia. The Sri Lankan government on its defence ministry website says that the UNICEF findings ‘reinforces the Government’s policy on zero civilian casualties’ during the war against Tamils.

5000 disappearances
CID Director S Mahendran slams the government claim as totally misleading. He maintains  that the UNICEF report only gives figures of children misplaced within camps and in the process of resettlement. He further clarifies that the applications were only about children disconnected from families following the war .

Almost 5000 complains on disappearances have been recorded by the CID so far. “We are unable to cope with the number of complains reaching us due to lack of resources,” says Mahendran. While he was speaking one family called from Tamil homeland to inform about a disappearance. In order to provide the UN Committee for the Disappeared with the exact details, CID has to meet those affected in person to obtain accurate information for formal documentation. But, Director Mahendran says that they are unable to get  the UN formalities completed as the CID are short of funds. Large number of letters remain unattended.

Not only north
In addition to the north many Tamils were made to disappear in Colombo and other southern towns, explains Mahendran.  “They were taken in white vans or jeeps similar to those used by security forces”.

CID has been carrying out campaigns since 2007, both in the south and the north of Sri Lanka, in search of the disappeared and has faced many challenges.

UPU news
12 July 2011


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