Relatives of people who disappeared during Sri Lanka’s civil war are urging the U.N. Human Rights Council to pressure the government to account for thousands of people who allegedly went missing in the final phase of the fighting.
The relatives made the request in a letter addressed to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay that was delivered Wednesday to the U.N. office in Colombo. They said there have been threats against people who have demanded an accounting of those who disappeared.
The demand comes as the rights council is meeting in Geneva. The United States plans to introduce a resolution calling on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of war crimes committed by government troops as well the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels.
Britto Fernando, president of the Association of Families Searching for Disappeared Relatives, said a resolution passed by the council last year had been too lenient and had not brought any results.
"We want a resolution that will force the government to act on accountability, human rights and ethnic harmony," he said.
Fernando said there is no clear estimate of the number of missing people but his organization believes it could be as many as 60,000.
Scores of people were reported missing in the final phase of the war, which ended in 2009. Many were picked up by white vans allegedly operated by pro-government paramilitaries and have not been seen since.
Many people who surrendered to the military also have been reported missing.
Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has said not a single person went missing after being arrested or surrendering. Most rebels who surrendered have been released, he said.