Sri Lanka has used abductions as a way to instill fear since the days of civil war. In the last three decades, 60,000 people have gone missing. Many families continue to protest every day under makeshift tents in towns across the country’s north.
They hold vigils in the hope of getting justice and answers on their missing loved one’s whereabouts. The conflict is now over, but critics say authorities are still kidnapping citizens who speak out.
Kulasegaram Geetharhanan, a UK lawyer, represents 52 Tamil asylum seekers in London who say they fear for their lives under the current regime. One of his clients, Milton Thusanathan, says he has been abducted twice since 2016.
“They’d lay me on the ground and beat my back and feet. They’d burn cigarettes on my back and thighs. They used a bottle to sexually abuse me,” he says.
Now, the Sri Lankan government is opening up an Office of Missing Persons to investigate and give reparations to those affected.
But families of the disappeared are sceptical. The government has held several similar commissions in the past, but all have failed to address the issue.
Can this new commission finally bring answers to the families left behind?
On this episode, 101 East investigates Sri Lanka’s enforced disappearances.