WASL protest allegedly stopped by Army

Parents of missing and disappeared Tamil youth staged a protest in the Killinochchi town yesterday to urge the authorities to release information of the whereabouts of their children.

The protest, which was organized by the ‘We Are Sri Lankans’ organization, was allegedly stopped by military personnel in the area who had allegedly explained to them that staging protests in the area was not permitted. The protesting parents held placards and photographs of their missing children and shouted slogans urging the authorities to release information about their children who had gone missing during the war.

“These youth went missing at a time when a very different political situation existed in the country. But now that the war was over, it is vital to tell these parents where their children are so that they could go back to living their lives again in peace,” WASL Executive Committee member and former Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Convener Udul Premaratne said, speaking at the protest held yesterday. He urged the government to ensure that the democratic rights of these people were secured. “If the government took measures to release the information of the missing youth, Sri Lanka wouldn’t be experiencing interference from other countries,” Premaratne added.

Meanwhile, Premaratne also alleges that two individuals attached to WASL – Sinnathurei Rajendran and Lalith Kumar Weeraraju, who assisted in organizing the protest, had been detained at a military camp from Wednesday and had only been released after the protest was stopped yesterday. He also alleged that military personnel had visited several homes in Killinochchi on Wednesday and told the people to forget about the protest.

Similar protests had been organized in the Trincomalee and Vavuniya districts earlier for the same cause by WASL.

Army denies involvement

The Army denied that military personnel had been involved in obstructing a protest that was carried out yesterday by the parents of missing and disappeared Tamil youth in Killinochchi yesterday.

The ‘we are Sri Lankans’ organization which had organized the protest said that the military had intervened to scuttle the protest claiming that people were not allowed to carry out protests in the area. Their Executive Director, Udul Premaratne said that more than 200 military personnel had tried to stop the protest from taking place.

However Military Spokesman, Major General Ubaya Medawala said that there had been no military involvement.  No military assistance was requested as it was a peaceful protest which did not require any military presence,” Major General Medawala further said.
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