The International Truth and Justice Project released a list of 280 names of forcibly disappeared Tamils, including the names of at least 29 children today.
The list is corroborated from eyewitness in the North-East and abroad, is the start of a new project by the ITJP to build a list of all those that surrendered themselves to Sri Lanka’s armed forces at the end of the armed conflict in 2009.
“This is the largest single group of enforced disappearance in Sri Lanka’s history- hunderes of people disappearing at the same time and place with multiple eyewitnesses both inside and outside the country. We have written to the Office of Missing persons saying this is the first case they should investigate if they are serious about criminal accountability for enforced disappearance. They can start questioning Major General Shavendra Silva and General Jagath Jayasuriya, whom eyewitnesses say personally observed the surrenders and those security forces in whose custody they were placed,” the ITJP’s Director Yasmin Sooka said in a press statement released today,
The statement reads:
The 58th Division of the Sri Lankan Army has to date steadfastly refused to hand over a list of surendees from the final day of the war to families who filed a habeus corpus case in Sri Lanka. The 58 Division, which is named in the UN Investigation as accepting the surrenders, was led at the time by alleged war criminal, Major General Shavendra Silva, who has been promoted by the current Government to Adujtant General of the Sri Lanka Army. Witnesses indicated that Silva was present at the Wadduvakkal Bridge on 18 May and even shook hands with LTTE political wing leaders who surrendered and shortly thereafter were summarily executed.
The ITJP’s disappearance website is recreating the surrender list that the Sri Lankan Army is withholding. It currently contains 280 names and can be viewed online in Tamil and English at: http://itjp.bong.international/#lang=english .
Those named on the ITJP list are believed to have been taken into the custody of the Sri Lankan Army on or around 18th May 2009 before they disappeared. Some have been reported as disappeared by their families in Sri Lanka. Witnesses are also in several countries abroad where they have given sworn testimony to the ITJP about who they saw surrendering to the security forces. The ITJP’s website is based primarily on 5 different lists – two from inside Sri Lanka and two collected abroad and a 2017 UN WGEID complaint list that is public. What is concerning is that while there is some overlap between the lists it is not huge, indicating perhaps that some families of LTTE cadres are still frightened to report them missing or that the families are no longer alive to complain.
On the final days of the war the Sri Lankan Army made loud speaker announcements urging Tamils to surrender promising them an amnesty. AS the Un report states, it is not relevant whether some of those who disappeared were LTTE fighters or not, because they had already passed into the custody of the armed forces and were hors de combat.