Colombo - The Sri Lankan government had decided to release information collected by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) about war detainees, but only to close relatives, the Defence Ministry announced. However, the decision has been criticised because it appears to be an attempt to curry favour with the international community after the UN adopted a resolution on war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military in 2009.
Since the end of the civil war, Tamil parties have demanded with insistence for the government to release the names of missing war detainees. The government of President Rajapaksa acknowledged that 12,000 Tamil Tiger rebels surrendered at the end of the war, and that most had been "rehabilitated" and gone home. War victims and human rights groups have challenged the government's claim.
Jude Nicholapillai, a Tamil Catholic, survived the war. His dad died in 1983 from a gunshot fired by security forces behind the Bishop's House in Colombo.
"We can count this as good news," he told AsiaNews. "But a year ago, the same was being said. We saw crowds lining up before district offices, concerned about their loved ones, but also full of hope, in vain. If they really want to release the information, they should do so under international monitoring."
For Brito Fernando, president of an association called Right to Life, Human Rights and Families of the Disappeared, the government "will just wave a list in front of the international community."
"First, the politicians said they couldn't release the names of the prisoners because the families didn't want them to. Now, they are claiming that only relatives will get the information."
"People know that there are unofficial prison camps," he explained. "The government has shown several times that it can lie on anything. It's gone too far and it has to lie just to survive."