“March 25, 2009. I remember that day very well. How can I forget it? That was the day I saw my son for the last time. That was the day I last spoke to him.”
I wished that I could take him with me where I went, but he said, ‘I am surrendering to the army. Take care of my sister and little brother. I will come back, don’t worry mother’. That day still hasn’t come. It is the words of my son that keep me alive. It is those words that still linger with me to this day.”
As the war was approaching its final stages and as the army was closing in, Yogarasa Kanagaranjani fled her home in Kilinochchi along with her eldest daughter and younger son for Mullivaikal. After arriving at an army controlled area, Kanagaranjani’s concern for her eldest son grew, as she hadn’t heard any news of him. She began asking everyone who entered the area if they had any information about her son; had they seen him? Where could he be? Had he reached the army controlled area? Had he successfully surrendered? Finally, she found someone that had seen her son Amalan surrendering to the army. They told Kanagaranjani that Amalan had told them to convey to his mother that he would return once the investigation ends.
Kanagaranjani tells me; “They had seen my son surrendering. I saw my son on the Channel 4 video too. Even still, the army, the intelligence and police kept coming to me and inquiring after my son. This kept on happening until July 2017. How did he go missing? They kept asking for his documents and identity card. Isn’t it because he is alive somewhere that they keep inquiring about him?”
Since her time in the Anandakumaraswamy IDP camp, Kanagaranjani has been searching for her son for the past 13 years. She’s participated in protests, including most recently, the May 30th protest at Mullaitivu this year. A journey to seek justice has been long and arduous. Her travels have introduced her to various people and different organizations that have heard the case for her son for the past 13 years. To this day, she perseveres in her search.
To understand the magnitude of her journey for justice, I decided to calculate and measure the entirety of the distance she has travelled for the past 13 years. Her journey for justice has taken her to protests, police stations, army camps, the CID, the Human Rights Commission, Human rights organisations, press conferences, meetings with religious leaders, politicians, places of worship and foreign travels. According to what Kanagaranjani shared with me (from what she recalls), I used Google maps and Free Map Tools, to find that in all, Kanagaranjani has travelled a total of 128,033 km in her pursuit for justice.
I have tried to put the 128,033 km Kanagaranjani has traveled into context through infographics shared below.
Also see: Sandya Eknaligoda’s Journey for Justice