War-affected women from the north and the east have told the government that they are prepared to pay double of what it is offering to avoid revealing the fate of their missing children, if it finds them.

During a protest in front of the United Nations office in Colombo, they condemned a recent cabinet decision to pay Rs. 200,000 in lieu of each person who disappeared 13 years ago.

As they continued their protest for the 2,066th day, these women handed over a petition to the UN that sought international mediation to find their children.

 

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Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena has announced the doubling of compensation and the removal of a requirement of a certificate to prove a person is missing to claim it. Displaying slogans and photographs of the missing, the protestors numbering more than 150 rejected this as a bribe to sabotage their struggle.

 

A Tamil woman among them said in Sinhala that they did not want the government’s Rs. 200,000, but will give it Rs. 500,000 if the bones of their children are shown to them at least.

They handed over similar petitions to several foreign diplomatic missions in Colombo.

 

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During a recent media briefing, president of the association of missing persons in Mullaitivu Mariyasuresh Ishwari alleged a plot to disrupt their struggle for justice by bribing them.

She accused president Ranil Wickremesinghe of following in the footsteps of his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa and scheming against them.

A series of Satyagraha began in February 2017 in Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee and Ampara demanding to know the whereabouts of the victims of enforced disappearances during the final stages of the war.

An Office of Missing Persons set up in 2018 has failed to find a single missing person, with its first head Saliya Peiris, presently president of the Bar Association, having said that the number of the missing was at least 20,000, most of them who had surrendered to the military.

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