28 March 2014 at the Sri Lankan Embassy in the Philippines.
Families of victims of involuntary disappearance in the Philippines assemble in front of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Makati, holding camphor pots (re-enactment) and pictures of missing persons in Sri Lanka who were allegedly taken by the state under President Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.
Members of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) staged the protest action in the light of continuous reports of abduction, arrests and disappearances of human rights activists, latest of which was the arrest of Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen Mahesan who were working on the release of Sri Lankan human rights activist, Balendran Jeyakumari and her 13-year old daughter.
Since March 13, Jeyakumari has been held in Boossa, a prison notorious for torture. No formal charges against her have been made. Her daughter was separated from her and is now in the care of a child probation officer.
Jeyakumari emerged as one of the leading human rights defenders when her husband disappeared during the armed conflict in Sri Lanka between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government. Her two sons were also killed at the height of the war while her other son was abducted after the war and remains missing up to now. She has been working with thousands of widows and children who lost their husbands, fathers and loved ones during the conflict.
“The Sri Lankan government must uphold its citizens’ right to truth and justice. We demand the release of Balendran Jeyakumari and other victims of arbitrary arrest and detention, stop the persecution of human rights defenders, families of the disappeared and critics of the Rajapaksa government, and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and other draconian laws aimed at paralyzing the movement for truth, justice and peace in Sri Lanka,” said Mary Aileen Bacalso, AFAD Secretary General.
AFAD said the increasing harassments against the families of the disappeared and human rights defenders are occurring amidst the backdrop of the discoveries of mass graves in Mannar, Matale and Puthukkudiririppu-Mullaitivu which if investigated and studied properly can lead to identification of disappeared victims from the late 1980s and during the conflict period of the government with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“We are one with the people of Sri Lanka whose loved ones are subjected to intense danger for fighting for their basic human rights. We invite the peoples of the world to join hands with the people of Sri Lanka in their steadfast struggle for justice, peace and human dignity,” said Nilda Sevilla, FIND Chairperson.