- President Sirisena
Release the list of all those who surrendered or were detained during and after the war
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In the baking sun. Through the cold of night. Amid the dust and pollution of the roadside. And against the trials of old age, trauma, and sorrow. For approximately half a year, family members of those who disappeared during and after Sri Lanka’s civil war have been protesting continuously at various locations across the North and East of the country. This petition is in support of them.
The protestors are seeking answers as to the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones, many of whom were disappeared during the war, including after being taken into the custody of the Sri Lankan authorities in its final stages and immediate aftermath (2008-2009).
In order to obtain those answers, they are calling for the release of information that could provide vital clues. In particular, they want the government of Sri Lanka to release a list, known to have been kept by the authorities, of all those who surrendered or were detained by the security forces during and after the war.
This demand, along with four others, was issued by the protestors at a meeting with President Sirisena in June of this year. It was met by a pledge from the President that he would take immediate action to secure the release of the records. But as of today, they have not been disclosed.
Meanwhile, the protestors – mostly Tamil mothers – continue their fight in makeshift shelters dotted across Sri Lanka’s North and East. We have produced a series of infographics detailing the locations of the protests and the number of days occupied at each. By the end of this month the longest running of these will have surpassed the half-year mark. These figures speak to the extraordinary resilience and determination of the families. But they also tell a story of utter desperation in the face of government indifference.
The time has come to say: enough is enough. Promises and pledges from the government of Sri Lanka must now give way to concrete action. The release of the list of detainees, un-doctored and in full, would be a crucial first step in the right direction.
Please help us ensure that this action is taken – and let the protestors know that they are not alone – by adding your voice to this petition asking President Sirisena to #ReleaseTheList. Even better, share it with a friend today and ask them to do the same.
- President Sirisena
On the 12 June 2017, following a meeting with representatives of families of the disappeared, you made a pledge: to release a list of all those who surrendered or were detained during and after the war. It is a list which could provide vital clues to those family members in their search for answers about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. Over two months later however, the list remains undisclosed, with no clear plans for its publication.
We call on you to take immediate action to ensure the release of this record, and to urgently develop a timetable to ensure the additional demands of families affected by disappearances are met. This includes those demands laid down in the memo delivered to you by representatives of the protestors in June, the operationalisation of a credible and effective Office of Missing Persons (OMP), and the passing of legislation to criminalize enforced disappearances. It is only through these steps that Sri Lanka can begin to address the scourge of enforced disappearances, and start to heal the deep scars which it has inflicted on all communities.
Until such action is taken, the sight of Tamil children, parents and grandparents protesting by the roadside at various locations across the North and East of Sri Lanka will remain a stain on the country’s international reputation – one that cannot be washed away with further hollow promises and empty rhetoric.
For as long as the protestors are standing up for their right to truth and justice, I will stand with them too.
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