Justice for JVP disappeared neither near nor far - Tilvin

By Saman Indrajith

Families of JVP members who had gone missing met representatives of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) in Colombo on Tuesday and forwarded their complaints according to Brito Fernando of the Families of the Disappeared.

Among the family members looking for missing JVPers was Arumugam Veeraraj, father of Lalith Kumar Veeraraj, who disappeared with Kugan Muruganathan in December 2011. Both Lalith and Kugan were former JVP members, who later joined the Frontline Socialist Party.

Fernando said, "They need to know basically whether those who disappeared were alive or dead. Some demand justice while some others want to know where they loved ones were buried. Some expect compensation because the new government came to power promising to compensate the family members of those who had been abducted and killed."

JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva, contacted for comment, said that his party members had been killed in their thousands during the 1987-90 period by the then government. Although all successive governments had come to power, promising justice and compensation, nothing had been done to redress the grievances of the families of the disappeared. "When Chandrika Kumaratunga came to power she appointed a commission chaired by Manouri Muttettuwegama. I, too, went and made submissions. We submitted all the details that our party collected about the enforced disappearances of our members. But, nothing happened."

Silva said that they had no trust in any government led by either UNP or SLFP conducting an impartial inquiry. "We are taking the case to the accused for hearing! The accused has become the judge as well. So, how could we expect justice? It is only under a future JVP government that the families of the disappeared during 1989-90 period will get justice."

The UN WGEID is on its first visit to Sri Lanka in 15 years and various aggrieved parties have obtained appointments to present their cases. The WGEID arrived in the country on Nov 9 at the invitation of the government and would stay till Nov. 18.

UN office in Colombo said that during the mission, the UN experts would study the measures adopted by the State to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances including issues related to truth, justice and reparation for the victims of enforced disappearances. They would also gather information on cases of enforced disappearances, including those pending before the Working Group. The UN WGEID would travel to Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Batticaloa, Matale, Trincomalee, Ampara and Galle. The expert body is to meet with State officials, both at the central and provincial levels, as well as with relatives of disappeared people, representatives of civil society organizations and of relevant UN agencies.

The Working Group is represented by Vice-Chair Bernard Duhaime, Tae-Ung Baik and Ariel Dulitzky. The independent experts are accompanied by staff of the Secretariat of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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