Sri Lanka Missing Persons Office – Steps to be taken before establishing any war crimes court
Posted on June 24th, 2016

Shenali D Waduge

The Government of Sri Lanka is to open a Missing Persons Office. This is a golden opportunity for everyone who publicized figures as dead or missing to now come out and name the numbers they gave or the sources from whom they got the numbers. Thereafter it is imperative to log who they are, when and how they died. It is only after any consideration can be made whether there are even grounds to carry out any war crimes courts. Until such time the GOSL must refuse to agree to any type of war crimes investigations.

The Missing Persons office must carry out the following procedures.

Step 1 – Make a public announcement (international & local) calling for all those who quoted missing/dead to log the names with them or the sources from whom they quoted with a deadline to produce the names. Given that they died before or by May 2009 there should be no difficulty in giving the names.

  • Every individual / organization / media entity / foreign envoys / foreign parliamentarians or UN official putting their name and quoting figures as dead or missing must now give the names of the dead or list the sources from whom they quoted.
  • The Office of Missing Persons must include the names of each of these entities, and detail the dates they made the allegations and the links to the public statements they made regarding the missing/dead.

Step 2 – The Office of Missing Persons tabulates the details

It is essential that the Office of Missing Persons have with them the National Birth & Death registrars per district/province as well as census/grama niladari and census lists to validate the submissions. Official name change list must also be available with the Office (double check people who have legally changed their names)

  • Names of the Missing or Dead (with their birth certificate to establish that they were actually born!)
  • Their age
  • Categorize them – Baby/infant / between 10-18/ student / graduate / public servant / private sector employee / by livelihood / LTTE cadre/child soldier/civilian combatant/involuntary civilian combatant or unknown
  • NIC of the Missing or Dead
  • Address of the Missing or Dead
  • Closest living relative of the Missing or Dead
  • Rough date/year the person went missing or died & location
  • The last person who saw the ‘missing’ or ‘dead’ (date and location last seen)
  • If the person went ‘missing’ has an entry been made with the police? If so certificate of proof to show that police entry was made.
  • If the person is dead – the death certificate
  • Crucial to tabulate all of the 5000 missing soldiers whose details their families have already sent to the UNHRC though the office is mum on action regarding their disappearance.

Step 3 – For names given as dead – Period they died

The ‘missing’ or ‘dead’ are likely to cover various periods. Therefore it is crucial that their names are tabulated to the period they went missing or are dead.

  • 1980s – as a result of JVP killings or as a result of UNP extra judicial killings
  • Killings and disappearances by Indian Peace Keeping Force (will cover Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils)
  • Killings and disappearances by LTTE during ceasefires/peace talks with LTTE
  • Disappearance & Missing during the last phase

Step 4 – For names given as dead – How did they die / when & where

  • How many died from Fatigue / weakness without food etc
  • How many died from injury (gunshot or accidental)
  • How many died due to old age or natural causes
  • How many birth delivery deaths
  • How many suicides (given LTTE had cyanide capsules it would be good to ascertain how many actually took the capsules when they realized they were cornered.
  • How many died during hostilities if they were civilian combatants (Note: LTTE women’s wing leader Thamilini’s book clearly says that civilians were trained and sent to combat and many died in battle as their basic training was not enough)
  • How many died from LTTE gun fire when civilians were fleeing LTTE control?
  • How many died from Sri Lanka Air Force shelling / Sri Lanka Army fire
  • How many died as armed combatants in civilian clothing while engaged in hostilities with SL Forces (we are yet to know how many LTTTE cadres died in civilian clothing. We do know that all 12,000 LTTE cadres who surrendered to the SL Army were wearing civilian clothing)
  • How many died as armed combatants in LTTE uniforms
  • Where did they die (which area)
  • When did they die (a specific date and month – this will ascertain whether these died during the last stages or earlier)

Step 5 – Verification of names given with Foreign Nations

  • The Missing Persons Office must next verify with foreign missions and compare their name list with those who have either applied for asylum, arrived as refugees or under any other reasons for this will prove that they are neither ‘missing’ nor ‘dead’.
  • This is extremely important because recently a pro-LTTE foreign lady who is referred to as ‘comrade’ by LTTE fronts recently said that there are over 40 ex-LTTE exiles who are willing to testify only to foreign judges? They need to first answer how they escaped, when did they escape, who helped them to escape before speaking to anyone and moreover why foreign judges? Do these exiles now speak only foreign language!

Step 6 – Assessing the findings

It is only after the Missing Persons Office has been able to tabulate all these details they will know

  • The period that people went ‘missing’ or ‘dead’
  • Categorize them as Civilians – Part-time Civilian Combatants – LTTE Combatants
  • Whether they died from collateral damage – battle fire
  • How many accidentally/naturally and how many were killed by LTTE & how many died from Sri Lanka Armed Forces firing or others
  • It is this last question that is crucial for if the figures boil down to a countable number of sporadic cases (as per venue of death) and more importantly by whom (LTTE or SL Army) there is no argument for war crimes under command accountability which is what the whole purpose of the calls for war crimes investigations are all about.
  • If there are sporadic cases of misadventure the Sri Lanka Military has military courts to conduct cases and soldiers if found guilty can be punished and have been punished in the past.
  • The Sri Lankan legal structure can also carry out trials against LTTE and accuse any LTTE leader or cadre of crimes in abstentia while also questioning those that are linked to LTTE.

All this can be done without any hybrid courts, foreign judges or any of the recommendations being pushed all of which have conveniently ignored answering or providing answers to any of the above questions. All they seem to want to do is to start a court and work backwards or make an allegation and use all their powers to prove their allegation as correct even fabricating evidence by bringing in ‘witness protection’ and withholding identity for 20 years.

Just imagine the status quo when false allegations are made and hidden witnesses are brought in to substantiate the false allegation and an innocent man is not only sentenced as a war criminal but is imprisoned and then we have to wait 20 years when the witness can come out to say he/she was coerced into giving statements and by which time the perpetrators of these fictions may be dead. What is the damage the entire system of lies would have done especially to the innocent soldier, his children and family who would be looked down by society for a crime he had never committed. Have people seriously thought about this aspect of injustice they are contriving to create?

Let us not forget that the OHCHR has already carried out 2 investigations and have not produced any concrete evidence to showcase war crimes as the gravity of the term denotes. Individual misadventures cannot slap an entire country & its national army as committing war crimes. Then there is also the illegality of the UNSG report being used as the foundation for Resolutions and questions why the UNSG or the UNHRC are not tabling these reports at the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council IF grave war crimes have been committed.

All this does raise why the same groups of people are insisting on war crimes investigations only against one party (SL Armed Forces). The news of UN Secretary General removing Saudi Arabia from its shamelist following threats by Saudis to cease all funding for UN programs makes us to now wonder whether the LTTE diaspora who are regular VIP visitors to the UN/UNHRC have had a hand in influencing the calls for such a court especially since many of these entities are charities that fund or function closely within the UN system.

The citizens of Sri Lanka find this notion unacceptable and will not allow such a ruling on an army that not only defeated an internationally proscribed LTTE movement but while doing so saved close to 300,000 Tamils (some of whom were LTTE cadres in civil – an army that saved close to 300,000 countable people while accusing the same army of killing ghost figures is unethical and unfair) Not a single military in the world with all their sophisticated weaponry have been able to defeat a terrorist movement that had air, ground and sea capabilities as well as a thriving international network of legal and illegal activities which have bought foreign MPs and silenced many who are in the seats of power with the strength of their funding.

Shenali D Waduge

2 Responses to “Sri Lanka Missing Persons Office – Steps to be taken before establishing any war crimes court”

  1. stanley perera Says:

    Shenali, I will take hundred years to complete this questioneer. It is high time that Arabian prince together with the racist Tamil diaspora hide under the bed or swallow that cyanide capsule. Shylock the Tamil diaspora are you still insisting on the pound of flesh?

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    The Questionnaire suggested by Shenali should be put forward for those claiming Missing Persons to answer. At least some Questions will be answered, if the claim is genuine.

    It will be the start to establishing some credibility to a genuine Missing Persons list.
    It will be also the start to STOP FALSE CLAIMS re Missing Persons.
    It will be the start when Sri Lanka will stop putting up with utter nonsense re Missing Persons from Tamil Separatists and Tamil Diaspora, etc.
    It will the start to establishing Law & Order in Lanka re minorities and their wild claims to mistreatment by the Lanka GoSL.

    Along with the queries into Missing Persons, truth of matters must also be established regarding LAND, and false Historical Claims to Land in Lanka.

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