Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Where are they?; What happened to them?; We need to know; Tell us the truth" angry protesters demand in Jaffna

  Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai reporting from Jaffna

"Disappearance gives more pain than death", a Tamil mother whose son has gone missing weeps and protests in front of the Jaffna Public Library
"My eldest son was a brilliant Chemistry undergraduate at University of Jaffna, and an old boy of Hartley College. He was forcibly taken away from home in Point Pedro by the LTTE in 2005. He used call and talk on the phone till 18th of May 2009. I received a phone call on 19th of May 2009 by one of his colleague saying that my son was injured. Thereafter, I and my wife visited all the hospitals including Kurunegala Base Hospital. But, we could not find our son. After my eldest son has gone missing in 2009, my second son who scored 10As in General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) has decided not to continue his studies, and has left the country. Why didn't Navaneetham Pillay meet hundreds of people who are in search of their missing loved ones? I am very frustrated, and lost faith in God and authorities including the United Nations!" ~ tearful Vallipuram Markandu, a retired Courts Registrar

Protesters carrying a banner "Bring Them Home"

A protest was organised by the Mannar Citizens Committee, Association of the Families Searching for the Disappeared Relatives, Committee for Investigation of the Disappeared (CID),  Families of the Disappeared, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO),  Praja Abhilasha Network and Shrambhimani, when United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navaneetham Pillay visited Jaffna Peninsula on last Tuesday. Hundreds of protesters- men, women and children have gathered near the popular Muniyappar temple, while holding photographs of their missing loved ones, and walked on the pavement, chanting slogans in Tamil and Sinhala ("Where, where, where are our loved ones?; Bring our loved ones home, Leave, leave, Army leave!, Give, give, give back Vali North, Enough, enough, , waited for enough,We need our loved ones and lands back"), and with placards and banners related to disappearances, fisheries issues, high security zones, land grabbing, living as Internally Displaced Persons, and political prisoners. 

Protesters also shouted "You wanted them to surrender (mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons), and they have surrendered accordingly. Where are they now? We need to know; We need justice".

The protesters walked while chanting slogans towards the Jaffna Public Library, where United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navaneetham Pillay was attending a meeting. They were stopped by the Police while crosing the Kaankesanthurai Road, and being on their way to the Public Library. Soon after, the protesters sat on the street leading to the Public Library in the hot mid day sun for many hours, wept, while beating their chests, and heads.

Don’t do any sabotage. Bring back my son alive! I am the witness, and I gave my son to you (surrender) ” endlessly weeping Sinnakkutty Kanapathipillai rolled on the burning tar road. They have collectively called for justice. "We have come from as far as Mullaithivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, and various parts of Jaffna. Madam Navaneetham Pillay did not come to meet us. We are disappointed. We wouldn't have come, if we knew that she will not meet us. We have been in pain for so many years, why didn't she meet us for a few minutes at least?; Why couldn't she meet all of us?", query angry Tamil protesters. 
Protesters waited with hopes, and returned to their villages empty handed once again.

People feel helpless, and they need justice now. More than four years have passed by. They need an answer", says Reverend Father. Emmanuel Sebamalai, Parish Priest of Thaazhvuppaadu in Mannar District. He and a few women members of families of the disappeared and political prisoners have met the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navaneetham Pillay at the United Nations Office in Nallur, Jaffna after the protest, and handed over a memorandum.

"Find my son; Find my son alive" Sinnakkutty Kanapathipillai weeps endlessly while lying on the street in protest. Her son Thayalan Kanapathipillai surrendered to the security forces on 18th of May 2009 in Vattuvaagal, Mullaithivu District. She is the witness to the surrender.

Protest was blocked by the Police
"Family of five (my daughetr, son in law and their three children (one daughetr and two sons) surrendered to the security forces on17th May 2009. I have searched everywhere, and I could not find any of them anywhere" , tearful Ilankothai Sivapatham

"My daughter was forcibly recruited by the LTTE in March 2009. She was 16 years old at the time of recruitment. A Tamil women who is known to us saw my daughter in Mulliwaikkal in May 2009. I have been to all the detention centres, and haven't found her yet", tearful and speechless father Kumarasway Kangalingam from Kilinochchi

"If you want, go ahead and kill us. Let us proceed. We are suffering everyday", and and frustrated Tamil women tell the Police on duty
Hundreds of Tamil women, men and children walk in protest against disappearances, land grabbing and calling for justice
Sithy Emeena's son has been missing since March 2009
Protesters march towards the Jaffna Public Library
"Why didn't you kills us?", angry protesters shouted in Jaffna
"I am frail, but I can't give the search, because he is my beloved son", tearful Ashadevi Shanmugalingam
"I want my Anna (elder brother)", pleads Vibhooshika Palendran
Tearful protesters blocking the street in Jaffna
Ananthy Sasitharan (wife of Ezhilan, senior LTTE combatant who surrendered on 18th of May 2009 to the security forces, and has gone missing afterwards)
Protesters are proceeding to the Jaffna Public Library in spite of Police blocking them
Noor Najeeba's two sons have gone missing together since 2010
"Madam, we welcome you. Help us to resettle in our own lands" reads a placard in Tamil
Maulavi S.M.Zaheel has been missing since 2006 from Puttlam
"Where are our missing loved ones?", reads a Tamil placard displayed during the protest
A quick look at the newspaper while protesting
Protesters being asked to be on the pavement, and not on the road
"Where is my son Mahinthan? Government answer", reads a placard in Tamil held by an angry grieving Jeyakumari Palendran,Tamil mother of a missing son
Banner by the Internally Displaced Persons from Mullikkulam in Mannar District
"My two brothers have been missing over the past few years, and decades. Both of my brothers were LTTE combatants. My elder brother went missing from Omanthai in 1995, and my younger brother has gone missing from Manalaaru, in 2008", tearful sister Subajini Dushyanthan
"Free us from refugee life", reads a placard in Tamil
Weeping women at the protest in Jaffna
"My son is innocent, and was not involved in any violent activities. My son was abcudted by 8 men near Jaffna Kachcheri in 2006" says Perinparani Thirunavukkarasu
"I will continue to seek justice" says Sandhya Eknalygoda, wife of political cartoonist Prageeth Eknalygoda, who has been missing since January 2010
"Enough is enough. Time to tell the truth", Tamil women shout and demand in Jaffna
Banner at a protest held in Jaffna


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