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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 19:45 GMT 20:45 UK
Fears grow over Tamil abductions
By Saroj Pathirana
BBC Sinhala Service

Sri Lankan soldier watches a main entrance point to Colombo
The Tamil campaigners have asked for better security
Members of the minority Tamil community in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, have appealed for government help to tackle a spate of abductions.

They say the police and government have not done enough to investigate the kidnappings of nearly 50 Tamils in recent weeks.

Campaigners met Sri Lanka's president on Tuesday to request more protection.

The police say they have not been given enough information by victims' families to carry out investigations.

Those kidnapped include an eminent Tamil journalist working for a private media network in Colombo.

Mano Gaheshan, leader of the Western Peoples' Front, a Tamil political party, told the BBC that that he had sent a detailed list of 20 missing Tamils to the Sri Lankan human rights minister.

But no action had been taken so far, he said.

How can we conduct an investigation if they refused to reveal vital details? This is just nonsense
Chandra Fernando, Inspector General of Police

The MP said more people had gone missing since then.

He said that some kidnap victims had been released after reportedly paying huge ransoms.

A few have been found dead, but the fate of many is unknown.

Propaganda

The police have asked the families of victims to provide them with more information.

They say that without adequate information from the victims' families it will be "extremely difficult" to carry the investigations forward.

But they also accuse Tamil activists of deliberately engaging in "false propaganda" to malign them.

"How can we conduct an investigation if they refuse to reveal vital details? This is just nonsense," Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandra Fernando told the BBC.

The relatives of the victims, however, say they are afraid of speaking out due to the continuous abductions and killings.

Many others, who have informed the local police, say they have not yet been given information about the fate of their loved ones.

The national Human Rights Commission (HRC) told the BBC that it would initiate investigations into the abductions.

Also, a cross-party group of Tamil parliamentarians has raised the issue with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and urged him to act to prevent more abductions.

'No trace'

An eminent journalist, Nadarajah Guruparan, working for a leading local private media network, was kidnapped and released within a day in the last week of August.

He was unable to identify his kidnappers.

Another man, Sothilingam Krishanthan, 21, disappeared on 3 September as he arrived in Colombo from the eastern town of Trincomalee.

A close relative of Mr Krishanthan said that he rang her from his mobile on his way to Colombo on the night train.

Tamils have lost faith in the police system
Mano Ganeshan, Colombo MP

"Since then, there is no trace of him. He had all his identity documents with him," she told the BBC.

"We informed the national Human Rights Commission, the ICRC and went to every police station in Colombo."

Sinnakkalee Karunaharan, a travel agent in the capital, Colombo, has been missing since 27 December.

Family members, who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC that he was abducted by a group of men in a white van in Wellawatta.

Protection promised

The image of the "white van" invokes memories of the "era of terror" in the late 1980s when death squads abducted and killed thousands of Sinhala youth in the south of the country.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) says the "white van culture" is now re-appearing in Colombo to threaten the Tamil community.

The police insist that they will do what is necessary to protect witnesses and complainants.

"We will protect them, send them abroad if needed, we are not afraid of anybody. Just give us information," IGP Fernando told the BBC.

But Colombo MP Mano Gaheshan says Tamils have "lost faith in the police system".

"It is up to the police to build confidence with the public," he says.

"It is their duty to protect the public, not the abductors and murderers."




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