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Monday, February 26, 2024

Vavuniya, Sri Lanka: Court decides in favour of a habeas corpus & orders military to produce 3 militants who surrendered in May 2009.

There women who won the a habeas corpus case walking back home. Image courtesy of @kamalakkannan 
In a land mark case court in Vavunia has given a verdict in a habeas corpus case filed by wife’s of three LTTE militants who were surrendered to the military in May 2019 and then  disappeared, requesting the military to produce them before the court.
Notes from a habeas corpus case, Vavuniya 23.02.23. 
On Thursday, in a dusty courtroom, a judge delivered a damning verdict. Softly spoken, he called each of the three women to the front. Kanthi was first to stand up. She was in tears. One by one the judge’s orders were identical.
He said he believed the women’s testimony — first given years ago — and ordered the Sri Lankan army to produce their husbands to the court. They had surrendered to the military during the last days of the war in Mullaitivu nearly fourteen years ago, in May 2009.

The judge said if the respondents failed to produce them, they must explain the circumstances in which they had disappeared. When Ananthy Sasitharan returned to her seat, she gave me a determined look. She had won.

Later when we were returning home, Kanthi showed me a photograph she kept in her handbag. “Husband,” she said to me in English, pointing him out among a group of other Tamil Tiger cadres. She was happy.

The significance of this day cannot be diminished. Ananthy repeatedly said “vetti”, which translates as victory. And she said this was for all the mothers and wives, whose husbands, daughters and sons were forcibly disappeared by the Sri Lankan military.

But it was a strange kind of victory, bittersweet. A complicated, ambiguous win. A quiet moment of vindication for the women.

Despite years of gaslighting, misinformation and legal strategies by the state to break their spirit and intimidate them into stopping their cases, this moment belonged to them completely. They were believed.

Outside the court, only Tamil journalists bothered to turn up.

Compiled from tweets by lotus.eyes @kamalakkannan


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