24 October, 2021


Disappearances Continue In Sri Lanka, Despite End Of War

By ABC Radio –

Interview given to ABC – Radio Australia by Brito Fernando, co-convenor, Platform for Freedom, Sri Lanka

Brito Fernando

The pro-democracy group, Platform for Freedom believes there have been about 35 disappearances over the past three months. The UN Human Rights Council last week passed a resolution calling for a thorough investigation of alleged war crimes committed by both sides during the final phases of the civil war. Platform for Freedom says the Sri Lankan government’s track record for follow-up is not a good one.

To listen the interview click here

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Brito Fernando, co-convenor, Platform for Freedom, Sri Lanka

FERNANDO: We have a history of not implementing commission reports. Sometimes even, they do not publish the reports, so no one knows. Recently, when a free trade zone worker was shot dead in a struggle, the President appointed a Commission, the Commission report was handed over, but no one knows what is there. So, this LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) being a commission appointed by the government and their recommendations, and if the government is not going to implement, the foreign intervention is much needed.

LAM: Has the government made sincere attempts at national reconciliation, especially in Sri Lanka’s north and east?

FERNANDO: I don’t think the government tried its best or worked sincerely because, Yes, they have built some temples, changed Tamil names into Sinhala and the army presence is much stronger than before, so if someone says this is reconciliation, then Yes. But the thing is, the Tamil people are unhappy because they don’t have the freedom for expression. They can’t mourn together for their disappeared, or for the people who were killed, whether they are LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) or not. Their children, they have the right those things. So, I think the government is not doing this real reconciliation. But without admitting their role in wrong things and repent, I don’t think that there can be reconciliation. Everyone has to admit what they have done and then only the reconciliation can begin.

LAM: You’re the chairman of Right to Life, which over ten years ago set up this ‘Wall of Tears’ memorial, where over 600 photographs of people who’ve been ‘disappeared’ are posted, and the list is still being updated annually. So are these forced disappearances still occuring, now that the war is over?

FERNANDO: Yes, that is the main worry we have, because in our country, in 1989, when we had these disappearances, we all campaigned against it, the leadership was given by the present president, Mahinda Rajapakse. We marched from Colombo to Kataragama, that is down south, about 19 days, and he was our representative to the UN and he was campaigning in Geneva, to stop the disappearances, so after he became the president, it’s very unfortunate, it’s still happening. So last three months, the numbers say it’s about 35 disappearances have taken place.

LAM: So you’re saying the government is not taking this issue seriously?

FERNANDO: No, because they’re using it as a political thing against their opponent very recently, some military people were caught red-handed, when they were trying to abduct the chairman of a municipality, that chairman was from their own party. But the government just released them, saying that they just went to find some ex-soldiers from the military. So the government is not paying interest, in stopping this, the most cruel violence against a human being.

LAM: In a recent paper, you spoke about the militarisation of society – is this part of what you were talking about, this lack of freedom of expression?

FERNANDO: Definitely, yes. Now, they always try to call the military on the street, legally. Now all the districts under the People’s Protection Act, the military can be called to anything. So very recently, when the fishermen came on to the streets – I know they sometimes behave roughly, because they don’t have that sort of training or ways of how to challenge and other things. Then the military was called and shot dead a fisherman. And even the armoured cars came on to the streets. So this is happening again and again. So we have to stop it because now they’re calling against every struggle being conducted by the workers, the farmers or anything like that. So the military personnel, they’re not only in the north, but even in the south now. For anything, they will call the military.

LAM: How do you think a space might be opened up or built, to promote a free and safe forum for discussion of issues that are important to the people? How do you think this might be done in Sri Lanka?

FERNANDO: The civilian movement is not that strong in Sri Lanka, but still, we’re trying to engage all the political parties and the civil movements, especially on a few issues like the freedom of expression, trying to create an environment where the people can have the right of dissent. But the freedom of expression should be maintained, so we’re trying our best as Platform for Freedom. Now, even the main opposition political party is working with us, so we’re getting all the other political parties and the civil movements together, to fight for those things, so that is how we think that space can be made. And even by organising the local mass campaigns and joining hands with the international pressure, we have to create it. Otherwise, no one can do anything, no one can express themselves freely, without the fear of getting disappeared. Now even passing a resolution in Geneva, it always helps, but it is our duty to build up a movement in Sri Lanka, in a democratic way, to challenge those things. And we are not afraid to say that we worked with the President and he was with us against the disappearances. Now he has forgotten those things, and we are still continuing.

To listen the interview click here


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Latest comments

  • 0

    brito is another sucker of dollars in media and trying to pretend hidden terrorism convert to reality now the people are rich enough to understand.

  • 0

    Yes, I think so. He also started rolling dolling notes to put his asshole.

  • 0

    Suz & Garayakka..

    In srilankan Culture, anyone who talks about the human rights situation is a traitor. But time will punish those who are responsible for the plight of the innocent civilians.

  • 0

    The last dinasaur,,,
    Are you agree with US and European culture???? Sri Lankan well aware about the Human rights and hospitality of nations that no need to learn from other country country base.

    How many times we had been trying to take them to the peace table ,
    1. Thimpu discussion
    2. J.R Jayawardana
    3. R Premadasa
    4. Chandrika B k’thunga
    5. Peace agreement by R wickramasinge
    6. President MR was tried him best to negotiated case in peacefully.

    Blood thirsty prabha was killing thousand of innocent civilians Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims during last 30 years spreading bloody terrorism island wide. No one was turn there tongue against for LTTE instead of feeding milk.
    The government is launching very keen security system not to come up the terrorism again in an Island. Base on that some stupid mad cows talking Sri Lankan government is violating human rights.
    If US can launch there CIA in all over the world to get security information , what is the problem behind Sri Lanka implement solid security system to resist our land.????

    It has been proved US is the worlds No 1 Human rights violator and war crimes by there conclusion in Geneva case by Sri Lanka and Israel issues.

    Hay dud ,,, keep in mind… we have not violated Human rights and no war crimes behind us.

  • 0

    The problem is that most HR advocates in Sri Lanka are in it for the money, have proof of having swindled large sums of money or having received large sums of money at times from dubious organizations. In Sri Lanka, there is a general case of such individuals being held in low esteem or suspicion and perceived as lacking in credibility. This is part of the reason/ problem that they are not taken seriously or dismissed as a mere bunch of mercenaries. Judging by the comments, Britto I guess is one of them.

  • 0

    I wonder on what basis these Pseudo Patriots, the Mahinda Chinthanites draw conclusions that anyone who speaks of Human Rights Violations continuing unabated right under their very noses, claim that we are in the pay of NGO’s or the LTTE itself. I for one, has no truck with any or received or will receieve any money. I only speak of what I see and hear from the media, which is under tremendous pressure, including us from the barage of vituperative attacks from these so called do gooders in these columns.

  • 0

    Hey you Gamini,
    You say that you don’t speak on behalf of the LTTE.You say that you only speak of what you see and hear on the media.Tell me one thing,which media outlet said that it was not the LTTE that murdered Rajiv Ghandi?You bloody cowards are a shame.The word Tiger is written all over your body and soul.Bloody drug traffickers and credit card fraudsters.

    • 0

      What is distorted in news in a manipulated media, the intelligent can syphon the truth, but not the naive as you are. Max for your information I am a full blooded SINHALESE and not a half blooded Portuguese as you are.

  • 0

    These are arrests not disappearences.We have no Guantanamo but if you have been involved in the violence since 1983 and you have a foriegn passport stay away from Sri Lanka because the Intelligence is run by intelligent people… not like the fools in the CIA and FBI.
    Sundnada Deshapriya and his likes shoud forget coming back because Ranil and his mates will never win.

  • 0

    The ‘white van’ squads – where do they come from? Who directs them? How do they choose their victims? Can they be hired for ‘private jobs’? Are they a newly formed Sri Lankan Mafia?
    The government does not seem to be bothered about them.
    Ramasamy Prabakaran who filed a ‘fundamental rights’ case against police after he was released from their custody after torture as he alleges, was abducted soon after. Is is not obvious that the police are the perpetraters? But, noone dares to say so.
    In the north, the army is said to act in collusion with paramilitaries of EPDP: in the east,with paramilitaries of TVMP – in abductions. Some for ransom, some for political reasons.
    But noone is bothered.
    Now Amnesty says it has identified secret detention camps.
    All this may have contributed to the Geneva defeat.
    Brito Fernando is a brave man. I salute him and the Platform for Freedom.

  • 0

    We Lankans should See Animal Rights before we See Human Rights of LTTE murders

  • 0

    It’s really sordid to hear when people who expose t human right violation are named as unpatriotic. I know little bit about Brito. They are the people who have scarified best part of their life to fight for the working class. He is not a pseudo Sri Lankan patriot domiciled in a foreign country.

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