Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted as part of an ongoing series marking 70 years of Independence.

Independence Day is marked with military parades and empty rhetoric on peace. The Sri Lankan State continues to exercise power, profiting from political instability, disenfranchisement and control over Tamil bodies and land in the North-East through militarisation and its intrusion into all aspects of daily life. There is no true freedom or independence felt here, only a constant threat.

Facing the brunt of this occupation openly and in the privacy of their own homes are Tamil women. Women are leading protests across the North-East to find answers about their disappeared loved ones. Many of these women have been on the roadside protesting for almost a year, resulting in trauma and the deterioration of their physical and mental health.

They do this despite military intimidation. A step towards sustainable peace would be concrete and genuine action by the Sri Lankan government to release the list of names of the disappeared, to establish a credible and effective Office on Missing Persons, and a strong commitment to serious security sector reform and demilitarisation.

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