The Association for Relatives of Enforced Disappearances (AERD) in the Northern and Eastern Provinces have rejected the allocation of funds in the budget for the next financial year to be paid to those who went missing during the war from the North and East.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, also holding the finance portfolio while presenting the budget for the next financial year announced the allocation of Rs. 1000 million to be paid as compensation to the families of those who were victims of enforced disappearances.
“We don’t want money, what we need is justice. We need our relatives to be handed over back,” Mariasuresh Easwary, President of the Mullaitivu district AERD told media persons at the local press club.
Speaking further, Easwary said the announcement by the President cum Finance Minister has confirmed their disappeared relatives are held in detention and that admission comes under international pressure.
“It makes one thing clear for us. Amidst international pressure they have confirmed that disappeared relatives are held in detention," she observed.
Alleging further, she added the government has allocated the money since they are keeping the disappeared.
“We don’t want this budget allocation. We reject these allocations because it is fifteen years since the end of the war. Furthermore, have they forgotten to allocate funds for other districts, or have they forgotten about those who have disappeared,” Easwary said, questioning the intention of the government.
She also strongly criticized President Wickremesinghe and his government for trying to hoodwink the international community by allocating these funds due to their pressure.
“I strongly emphasize that the President of this country can hoodwink the international community. But he cannot fool the relatives of the disappeared,” fumed Mariasuresh Easwary.
The AERD President of Mullaitivu alleges that the funds allocated are for the expenses for themselves and those around them. “This money is not for us and we don’t want this money”.
She reiterated their primary and long-standing demand for an international inquiry into the issue of their relatives gone missing after being handed over or surrendered to the Sri Lankan security forces. “Perpetrators should be put on the dock of international courts and justice delivered to us”.
Calling upon the Tamil people to be on “high alert” when they are continuing their protest for over 2500 days and to be aware of the government’s ploy of “trying to put a full stop” to search for the disappeared.
At least 188 elders have died searching for their dear and near since the end of the brutal war which came to a bloody end in May 2009.