By Colombo Telegraph –
“The U.S. Embassy is concerned about reports that hundreds of Sri Lankan family members of the disappeared were blocked in Vavuniya by Sri Lankan authorities while traveling to Colombo. These family members are calling for information about their missing loved ones. The Embassy calls upon Sri Lankan authorities to allow free movement of these citizens. The right to freely express opinions is universal and protected under Sri Lankan and international law.” says the US Embassy Colombo.
On 5th March 2013 the family members, who were travelling to Colombo to participate in a protest campaign and to hand over a petition to UN regarding their disappeared relatives, were blocked in Vavuniya by a joint operation of the police and the military.
“The United States is constructively working with international partners to support of these basic freedoms through the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution in Geneva. We continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to follow through on its own commitments to its people by implementing recommendations made in their Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report. The LLRC recommends thorough investigations into disappearances as well an establishment of a mechanism to address cases of the missing and detained. Since last year’s UNHRC resolution the United States has grown increasingly concerned by the lack of progress on these issues, as well as backsliding on other important areas of fundamental democratic rights. All Sri Lankans should enjoy the same rights and live in dignity, sharing a democratic, secure, and prosperous future.” the Embassy further says.
“The Government is in the process of devising measures to pay compensation to the owners of properties within such areas or provide them with alternate land. I must re-emphasize that the military is in no way engaged in civil administration which is the sole responsibility of civilian officials. There are absolutely no restrictions on travel today in the North and civilians enjoy complete freedom of movement.”