Tamil Families Mark 5 Years of Continuous Protest for their Disappeared Family Members

Tamil Families Mark 5 Years of Continuous Protest for their Disappeared Family Members
Dushi Yanthini Kanagasabapathipillai/ Flickr, 2013.


Judit Kolbe 

Sri Lanka and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence 

The past weeks, Tamil families in the North-East of Sri Lanka have marked their 5th year of continuous roadside protests for their disappeared family members (Tamil Guardian, 2022a; Tamil Guardian 2022b). In Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, many families had witnessed their loved ones being forcibly taken and disappeared and started their protests in 2017 (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). They demand the release of three lists: a list of those who surrendered in the last phase of the Civil war, a list of the detainees under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) since 1978, and the investigation into and list of “all past and present secret detention centres” (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). Furthermore, they demand to be kept informed and consulted in the solution finding and resolution process, as well as the initiation of “all four traditional justice mechanisms in tandem, including a justice mechanism” (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). In Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka, families marched along the roadside calling for an “international justice and accountability mechanism” to hold those responsible for the crimes accountable (Tamil Guardian 2022b).

Since the protests were launched 5 years ago, a number of family members have already passed away (Tamil Guardian 2022b). More than 100 parents have died since, without knowing what happened to their disappeared children. The protesters are mainly mothers, wives and daughters, or elderly people who frequently face harassment from Sri Lankan authorities (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). Despite the protests and other actions seeking justice launched by the family members of the disappeared, the successive Sri Lankan governments, as well as the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) have been unsuccessful (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). 

Sources and further reading:

Tamil Guardian (2022, February 26). No answers, no justice - Vavuniya families of the disappeared mark 5 years of roadside protest. Tamil Guardian. Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/no-answers-no-justice-vavuniya-families-disappeared-mark-5-years-roadside-protests

Tamil Guardian (2022, February 20). 5 years and still no answers - Tamil families of disappeared march despite rains. Tamil Guardian. Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/5-years-and-still-no-answers-tamil-families-disappeared-march-despite-rains