A missing person may be hiding in a foreign country

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By 2017-04-20

DR.Vickramabahu Karunaratne

In counting missing persons it is natural to use State statistics. If those registered in the count taken before the war absent in the count taken after the war then either they are missing or dead. Missing persons may be hiding in a foreign country reluctant to come back, for several reasons. May be more than 4,000 fled to overseas countries during the last stages of the war. Until the truth was out these were also counted as those who 'went missing'. That is exactly why a powerful truth commission is necessary.

Until then according to State statistics, it shows a loss of nearly 150,000, from North East. A similar scenario took place during the JVP insurrection '89. Many militants escaped arrest and fled the country. Some of them were considered as those went missing in this country. At the same time many were granted protection in other countries on human rights purposes. It was estimated earlier that 66,000 persons lost their lives during the JVP insurrection, according to records at that time. Later some of them were found among the living. Hoverer, over 20,000 families were given various compensation payments; but no serious probe had been made there too. The matter was forgotten later, as families of the disappeared were tired and dissipated.

The same situation could not happen here because the issue is alive still. Indirectly, the JVP has admitted that their opposition to devolution and citizenship rights is wrong. The Paranagama Commission did a report on this matter, and about 14,000 disappearances were identified. Report itself admits the investigation was done under difficult conditions; hence, this figure is not accepted and with UN support a new investigation has been launched by this government. Anybody interested in a solution should support and expedite this effort of Yahapalanaya. Of course Paranagama did a good job under difficulties. In the name of this great man we must go forward, not backwards. The JVP may demand that not only the 1987-89 period, but 1971 should also be covered in the investigations. But they do not see any political necessity.

If the investigations are to be extended in that manner, what would happen is not justice being meted out to the next of kin of missing people, but the present stability in the society may be destroyed by fascistic campaigns and the JVP may not want to be party to it? What should be done is to use the mechanism introduced to gather information about the missing people to identify the suffering of each family and if there are needy people among them, to pay compensation and implement policies that would be strong enough to avoid a recurrence of a similar situation.

Some ministers are tight-lipped

There is an allegation that some ministers are tight-lipped on the so-called hunting of war heroes and the President is influenced by them. However, all agree that there were about 150,000 of Security Forces members who were involved in the military operation. There could be small groups out of them who dared in committing personal crimes. On the other hand, it is clear there were two organized factions. One was acting on the orders given by those of the MR regime, who may have been lured to commit personal crimes. It is very clear that the killing of Lasantha Wickramathunga and the disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda took place in that environment. There were accusations levelled against others in power over the abduction of Ekneligoda. These stories were related quite often.

The people's judiciary has now proved who was behind it, and who did it. Rajapaksas should be responsible for Ekneligoda's abduction, because it had been done by the security and intelligence units. He was abducted on several occasions before that as well. Now the whole story is out. The CID had recorded evidence. Those who accused others now know who was behind it. But some say Courts are yet to prove it. But people's verdict has already been made. There are many other groups who committed crimes personally. They have not been directed by the Rajapaksas, but by fascist motivations; also on their own for earning ransom or demand a payment. These have to be investigated in a transparent manner.

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