First, I would like to thank on behalf of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), for inviting us to speak at this event and to bring attention to the one of the most painful aspects of human suffering, namely “disappearances.”
Our organization Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam is representing Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka, who also like Baloch people have endured serious abuses including disappearance. We stand here with Baloch people and share their pain and suffering as well as their fight to become free people and be independent.
An enforced disappearance committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a population constitutes a crime against humanity. Crimes against humanity are acts which, by their scale or nature, outrage the conscience of humankind.
Baloch people were singled out because of their ethnic identity to face serious abuses by the Pakistani Security forces. For several years international, human rights organizations have recorded large number of enforced disappearances Baluchistan.
Enforced Disappearance is used as a political tool by Pakistani Security forces and intelligence agencies to intimidate and silence Baloch people from expressing their political wishes. To create terror among ordinary Baloch people, Pakistani Security forces threw some of the bodies in the streets called “kill and dump” operations. Baloch journalists, students, lawyers, Activists, politicians and others are among those who have been targeted in enforced disappearances.
In most of the enforced disappearance cases in Baluchistan, the perpetrators acted openly and did not seem worried by the presence of witnesses, highlighting the impunity with which Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies operate in Baluchistan.
Even children disappeared in Baluchistan. According to Human Rights Watch, there were multiple witnesses to the abduction of two children, 14-year-old Nasibullah Langao and 12-year-old Abdul Waheed. A group of uniformed personnel apprehended them in the street of their village of Ismail in Hudda, Quetta, in March 2010. The families have not been able to obtain any information about the boys’ fate or whereabouts from the authorities.
In a number of the cases, the Pakistani security forces took students away from university campuses.
Now, I would like to turn to the disappearance of Tamils in Sri Lanka. According to the UN, Sri Lanka has the second largest number of disappeared in the world. Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam has initiated a campaign titled “You are not forgotten” to address the issue of disappearances.
The Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka and its diaspora continue to suffer the long term consequences of the enforced disappearance of so many Tamils last seen in the custody of the Sri Lankan Army comprised almost exclusively by the Sinhalese. Families of the disappeared continue to suffer the uncertainty of knowing what happened to their loved ones continue to suffer by being unable to properly mourn the disappeared and continue to be unable to resolve legal issues related to the disappeared persons.
Before, during and after the armed conflict, the government of Sri Lanka has employed enforced disappearance as a systematic tool of Genocide against the Tamil Nation. The infamous white van abductions became a ubiquitous tool of oppression against Tamils and some Sinhalese dissidents. In addition to those Tamil civilians who were disappeared, the fate of most of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam cadres (LTTE) who surrendered at the end of the conflict also remains unknown.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recorded statement in January 2016 that LTTE cadres who surrendered and were seen in detention after the conflict ended were “most probably dead” falls far short of Sri Lanka’s obligation to provide the families of those disappeared with the truth about what happened to them.
Sri Lanka’s assertion before the Human Rights Council in October 2016 and March 2017 that its establishment of an Office of Missing Persons (OMP) was an “achievement” is misleading.
In the complete absence of any domestic or international recourse, the mothers and wives of the disappeared have staged an ongoing protest for the last 168 days in Kilinochchi, calling for the release of their family members or a credible investigation into the truth of what happened to them. These peaceful protests have been the target of violence by the government and in one instance an activist and wife of one of the disappeared and a mother of 3 children was beaten and sexually assaulted on her way home.
Dear friends, I would like to thank on behalf of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam for inviting us for this important event. Thanks you.