AFAD PRESS STATEMENT: Attempts to Destroy Monument of the Disappeared in Sri Lanka, A Grievous Offense Against Victims and Their Families.
Attempts to Destroy Monument of the Disappeared, A Grievous Offense Against Victims and Their Families
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) joins the Sri Lankan families of the disappeared victims in remembering their loved ones subjected to disappearances during the annual commemoration at the Monument for the Disappeared in Raddoluwa Junction in Seeduwa., Sri Lanka. This year is the 21st commemoration of the Monument.
Between 1987 and 1991, disappearances in Sri Lanka had reached 30,000. These proportions and the failure of the Sri Lankan government to address the alarming occurrence of disappearances and prosecute perpetrators led to the construction of the Monument for the Disappeared in 1991.
The Monument serves as a constant reminder of the atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan government against its own people. For a couple of decades, it has become the place for families to honor their disappeared loved ones – where they grieve, light candles, put flowers and offer prayers. After more than two decades of annual commemorations, the Monument continues to stand as a concrete reminder that the cases of disappearances must not be forgotten. It constantly urges families of victims and the greater society to continue the search for the truth, to pursue justice and to prevent recurrence.
With remembering the victims comes the recognition that disappearances exist and can be committed against anyone. Recent threats of the Raddoluwa parish priest, Rev. Father Prasad Perera to destroy the Monument for the Disappeared showed an alarming picture of the malicious actions to obliterate the memory of the victims. The proposed demolition of the monument is a manifestation of an evil intention to bury the truth and for the Sri Lankan public and the rest of the world to disregard the existence of disappearances in the country.
The attempt to destroy the concrete remembrance of the disappeared victims is a direct insult to the victims and a grievous offense at that. It is an obvious disregard of the reality of the injustice committed against them. It is an affront to the families’ continuing search for truth and justice for the stolen lives of their loved ones.
On this occasion, the AFAD joins the Families of the Disappeared (FOD) and its partner organizations in their resistance against the proposed demolition.
The Monument of the Disappeared should continue to stand as an integral part of the continuing reconstruction of the desaparecidos’ historical memory. With the Monument standing conspicuously, the Sri Lankan people and the rest of the world shall serve as a shadow of the disappeared that would never leave us. As long as the memories of the victims and the violation are remembered, the efforts to attain truth and redress shall not cease. The hope for justice shall remain alive in the hearts of the families left behind.