COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Families, activists and opposition politicians marched in the capital Tuesday demanding information about the disappearances of a journalist and abducted civilians.
The civilians disappeared after they allegedly were abducted by a pro-government militia, and columnist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda had criticized the government before he went missing two years ago Tuesday.
The protesters carrying candles and photographs of the missing marched to a church where they prayed for freedom for the victims.
“I have gone everywhere possible over the past two years to know the whereabouts of Prageeth,” said Sandhya Ekneligoda, the journalist’s wife. “We must join hands and take this struggle together,” she told other women who participated in the campaign.
Last year Sandhya sought the help of the United Nations to help trace the journalist, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon announced that the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO the world’s body’s educational organization are looking into the case.
However, there has been no information on Prageeth.
Sandhya chanted prayers at the church calling for “strength and freedom” for her children and husband.
“Give me a family, find my husband and children,” read banners carried by the protesters.
Opposition politician and activist Mano Ganeshan accused the government of abductions.
“There is no one else to do it but the government,” he said. “We tell the government to explain what happened to these people before trying to defend yourselves internationally.”
Foreign governments and human rights groups have heavily criticized Sri Lanka’s human rights record, especially during the final stages of the civil war that ended with the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.
Scores of ethnic Tamils suspected of having links with the rebels disappeared after being abducted. Journalists were killed, some imprisoned and others were taken away and severely beaten.