Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Census of the Disappeared – Let us try to do it properly

All GN(Grama Niladari) divisions in Sri Lanka have been requested to go to the households in their respective areas, and obtain information of missing persons during the period 1982 to date.

I sincerely hope that a proper accounting of these missing people, along with the basic information pertaining to them such as their name, year of birth, date they went missing etc would be obtained.

My local Grama Niladari came to my home this morning, and I, as the head of the household signed off that there were NO missing persons in this household to my knowledge! During this period.

Whilst the press and the HRC and other bodies are hailing it as a first step, I personally would like to see a proper accounting of ALL people NOT accounted for since 1982, as it also may include the 30,000+ people missing during the second JVP uprising, whose remains have NOT yet been found. The recently unearthed Matale   mass graves is due to unauthorized deaths of people whilst being held there, and they are sons and fathers of people currently living.

I sincerely hope we as a country, will be able to build a more correct picture of the scale of the missing person census so that we will stop this unending series of speculation that has been going on as to the exact number. Sri Lanka is only second to Iraq at present on the numbers of missing and it could even surpass that of Iraq!

Further there is the possibility that the missing figure is higher of Sinhala mainly youth in the 80’s to any that the Tamil Diaspora claim to be missing during the LTTE wars!

It is important that families have some closure as to what happened to their loved ones when they disappeared, as it is the Govt. responsibility to do all it can to find an answer. It must be remembered that there are many people who fled overseas during both pogroms and should NOT be included in this list.

With problems in how both Sinhala and Tamil names are written the relationships to people are NOT always obvious, so it is important that ALL attempts be made to educate the GNs of the nuances of their task so that it is done as completely and correctly as possible is stressed. 

Let there be light!! at the end of the tunnel for these thousands of long suffering Sri Lankans both here and overseas who are still awaiting some word of what happened to their loved ones. Not knowing is the worst of all worlds in grief as it has no ending. So let us do our utmost to do it right and not cover - up especially where there has been major reconstructions, where houses have been destroyed and therefore no knowledge of the existence of families where there is NO house in the first place.

It must also be remembered that some people have moved into homes after a whole family has sold, left, killed or disappeared. So what happens to that period that the present householder does not know, as he is most likely not even to let the GN know of the past, in case he is found to be a squatter in a house where the owners and occupants were killed or not accounted for!!

No wonder it is not a completely accurate method, in accounting for people who disappeared in Sri Lanka. Let us NOT forget that when the results are out.         

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