Will the Sri Lankan disappeared finally be accounted for?

13 July 2022 By Paul Martin

Now that the Sri Lankan president Gota Rajapaksa has fled his country and resigned, human rights organisations are dusting off their files on the thousands of ‘disappeared people’, many of them simply abducted and thrust into white vans.

Those who disappeared ranged from anti-government activists to supporters of a rebel movement, or were human rights advocates.

They believe Rajapaksa should be prosecuted for mass murder, as he was the Defence Secretary during much of the time these enforced disappearances took place.

A month before he came to power as president in 2019, Rajapaksa claimed at a press conference that these ‘disappeared’ people were dead, and offered to issue death certificates so that relatives could claim social services support or remarry.

But he did not say who was responsible for the abductions, disappearances and deaths. However reports narrowed down the main place of detention for abducted people as the headquarters of the Sri Lankan navy in the capital, Colombo.

Relatives show photos of their ‘disappeared’