Sri Lankans call for UN help over abductions

Demonstrators hold placards with an image of missing cartoonist and columnist Prageeth Eknaligoda, during a protest in front of the United Nations head office in Colombo Cartoonist and journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda has been missing for 1,000 days

Family members of disappeared people in Sri Lanka have urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene and help them find missing relatives.

They sent their appeal to mark 1,000 days since the disappearance of an anti-establishment cartoonist-cum-journalist, which remains unsolved.

There are still reports of kidnappings, or attempted kidnappings, every month, a BBC correspondent says.

The government and security forces deny abducting people.

Campaigners handed the UN a letter, also delivered to the Sri Lankan president, speaker and opposition leader, saying these men, along with Mr Ban, had the power to make progress in fighting disappearances.

They urged the government to prosecute those responsible and give information about people secretly detained.

The writers of the letter said they believed the victims were being held "somewhere on this island".

Thousands of complaints

Showing the strain of nearly three years of waiting for the cartoonist and journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda, his wife and son have been keeping a vigil outside the UN compound in the commercial capital, Colombo.

"Where is my husband, where is my father?" they asked.

They are not the only ones still waiting for information, reports the BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo.

About 15 other people, mostly Tamil and Muslim women, some of them weeping, held placards showing sons or husbands who vanished three, four or more years ago - some of them former rebel combatants, others not.

Many were reportedly picked up by the security forces as the war was ending in 2009. One woman has three sons missing.

A human rights campaigner, Nimalka Fernando, highlighted the legacy of enforced disappearances stretching back to the 1980s.

"We have seen that there are more than 5,000 complaints sent from Sri Lanka to the [UN] Working Group on Disappearances. The Sri Lankan government says they have looked into 59 cases out of all the complaints received."

There have been few demonstrations by the families of disappeared people since December, when two young campaigners for the families themselves vanished in the northern city of Jaffna, our correspondent says.

But only on Sunday, a woman said her husband was bundled into an unidentified van in the Colombo suburbs and taken away, he adds.

More on This Story

More Asia stories

RSS

Features

  • Witley Court in Worcestershire Abandoned mansions

    What happened to England's lost stately homes?


  • Tray of beer being carried10 Things

    Beer is less likely to slosh than coffee, and other nuggets


  • Spoon and buckwheatSoul food

    The grain that tells you a lot about Russia's state of mind


  • Woman readingWeekendish

    The best reads you need to catch up on


  • Salim Rashid SuriThe Singing Sailor

    The young Omani who became a prewar fusion music hit


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.