Image from Transcurrents
[Editors note: Also read New wave of abductions and dead bodies in Sri Lanka]
Twenty nine disappearances (including an attempted abduction) have been reported in Sri Lankan media between February and March 2012. There have been fifteen in March and fourteen in February. This brings the total number of disappearances reported in the last six months to fifty six.
Nineteen cases were reported while the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council were in progress in Geneva from the 27th of February to the 23rd of March 2012.
Out of the twenty nine disappearances in February-March 2012, sixteen of the twenty nine (16/29) appear to have occurred in the Colombo district while eight have been reported from the Northern Province (8/29). Five of those reported from the North are said to be ex-LTTE cadres who had been detained, released from detainment and then abducted. There are also three from the indigenous Wannilaye Aetto (Veddah) community.
Amongst the twenty nine 29 are also two school girls (one of whom escaped) and one university student, businessmen, a Government politician and relatives of politicians and individuals reportedly to be members of underworld gangs. Twenty four have been reported as abductions and five are reported as “missing”. Out of the persons who are reported as “missing” are three people from the Veddah community and two people from Jaffna. It was reported that one of the people missing in Jaffna was found dead.
Media reports had presented startling facts about involvement of the government in some of the abductions in March 2012. On 10th March, Mr. Ravindra Udayashantha, a government politician who is the Chairman of Kolonnawa Pradeshiya Sabawa (local government body in the Colombo district), was saved from being abducted when his political supporters intervened. The abductors were apprehended by the supporters, were positively identified as being from the Army and handed over to the Police. The number of the vehicle involved in the abduction, the names of the alleged abductors, their photos and even a video clip have been published. However, the abductors were released from police custody afterwards.
On the 26th of March 2012, former Western provincial councilor Mr. Sagara Senaratne, brother-in-law of Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga was released within hours of being abducted after the abductors had got “a call” while he was still in the van that he had been abducted in. The driver of Mr. Sagara was a eyewitness to the abduction and it appears that “the call” given to abductors to release Mr. Sagara had come after Mr. Sagara’s driver informed Minister Kumaratunga, who in turn had informed President Mahinda Rajapakse and Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse. Mr. Sagara had claimed that he would not be alive if not for the intervention of the Minister, the President and the Defense Secretary. It is not clear how the Rajapakse brothers and Minister Kumaratunga were able to ensure the release of Mr. Sagara even as he was being taken away by the abductors, without even the involvement of the Police.
In February 2012, Mr. Nethiyas Chandrapala was abducted outside the main court complex in Colombo. Also, in February 2012 Mr. Ramasamy Prabhakaran, a former detainee who had been severely tortured before being released as innocent was abducted two days before the case he had filed against senior police officers was to be taken up in the Supreme Court.
When will we see an end to disappearances in Sri Lanka?