COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has pledged to release the lists of those who had surrendered or were detained by the armed forces during the last phase of the brutal 30-year civil war that ended in 2009.
During a meeting between representatives of the families of the disappeared from across all eight districts of the north-east and President Sirisena, the families handed over a memo laying out five key demands including releasing a list of all those who had surrendered or were detained by the Lankan armed forces during and after the war.
They also demanded releasing a list of all detainees held under the Prevention of Terrorism (PTA) and in detention centres.
The meeting was arranged as a result of demands by the families at demonstrations on the 100th day of their protest on May 30.
They demanded that these lists be handed to a representative of the families of the disappeared and their lawyers and also to release in public domain findings of all state probes conducted in the past on the subject of disappearances.
A Tamil civil society spokesman K Guruparan said the demands were read to Sirisena at the meeting and the president has promised the families that he would issue directives to the national security council to release lists of surrendees, detainees, and political prisoners that families were demanding.
The protest by the relatives came amidst the government's action to set up an office for the missing persons.
Despite being legally set up, the rest of the administrative and logistical action on the office is yet to be completed. Another amendment to the Act is to be debated in the Parliament this month.
While the affected Tamil minority is seeking justice for their disappeared relatives, the opposition groups mostly Sinhala majority nationalists say the entire office of missing persons would betray the government troops who had successfully countered the terror of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
According to the UN figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by the security forces during Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime that brought an end to nearly three-decades long civil war in Sri Lanka with the defeat of LTTE in 2009.
Government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels are both accused of war crimes.