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Christians join Civic Activists in Seeking Justice for the Disappeared in Sri Lanka

December 13th, 2011

Protests call on authorities to release detainees and halt rights violations.

Christians and human rights groups joined families of missing people and political prisoners in a protest in Colombo yesterday to demand the release of their loved ones, to learn their whereabouts and against crackdowns on political activists.

According to United Nations figures, more than 12,000 people went missing during the country’s civil war and rights groups believe there are more than 8,000 political prisoners languishing in prison.

The protesters held photos, placards, banners and shouted slogans as they marched through the city center.

“Those who raise their voices against human rights violations today will vanish tomorrow,” said Nimalka Fernando, a Christian lawyer and civil rights activist.

“People do not have freedom of expression. Civil activists are duly noticed and picked up by the Crime Investigation Department and the security people,” she said.

“They [the security forces] try to halt demonstrations, harass people and restrict political activism,” she added.

Gathered outside Colombo railway station, the protesters also called on authorities to find people who have disappeared and demanded the release of political prisoners.

Anglican priest Father Marimuthupillai Sathivel said the government should take immediate action to right the wrongs which continue to take place.

“The government has violated the people’s democratic rights and kept many in jail without due proper legal process,” the Anglican priest added.

Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem has told reporters that the government is taking steps to ensure people being detained without reason are being identified and released.

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