The protestors, mainly women, dispersed after the northern province governor’s office informed them in writing that the president would grant them a meeting within a fortnight only, as he was presently busy with activities relating to the disaster situation in the rest of the country.
However, they say they will continue with the Satyagraha campaign in the north and the east until a solution is given to their matters.
Committee to be appointed
The letter by the governor’s secretary L. Illangovan says the president has decided to appoint a committee next week to inquire into the protests, adding that their representatives could report their grievances to the committee.
The protestors accused the government of not showing the same level of interest it showed to rescue persons caught in the floods and the landslides to the persons who had gone missing eight years ago and afterwards.
‘Don’t you feel the same grief that you feel for the missing from the natural disaster for these people?’
The wife of missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda too, took part in the protest and inquired from the president, ‘Don’t you feel the same grief that you feel for the missing from the natural disaster for these people?’
Director of the Centre for Society and Religion Fr. Ashok Steven said the missing persons office (OMP) approved by parliament in August was yet to start its functions.
Ten days ago, the president said in Sampur that another committee would be set up to look into the missing by considering reports and recommendations by previously-appointed commissions.
Also, minister Rajitha Senaratne requested two months from participants of the Satyagraha in Vavuniya to deal with those missing after surrendering to the military.
Second only to Iraq
According to the UN action committee on disappearances, Sri Lanka has 5,750 unresolved disappearances since 1980, which is second only to Iraq.
A panel of the action committee visited Sri Lanka last November and was told by local human rights activists about more than 22,000 documented as being missing.
In approving the OMP act, the government has admitted to the disappearance of around 65,000 persons.