Human Rights

NPC minister expresses concern over plight of missing Tamil poet

A minister from the northern provincial council heavily criticised Tamil writers for not showing any concern about the fate of a leading Tamil poet who remain missing since 2009.

Poet Puthuvai Rathnathurai, who served as the Head of the LTTE Cultural Wing, handed himself over to the Sri Lanka military along with several senior members of the LTTE, before he disappeared.

“Isn’t there a single writer prepared to raise the voice on behalf of another writer?”  Northern Agriculture Minister Ponnathurai Ainkaranesan asked the audience attending the launch of Tamil anthology Oosal (Pendulum) by poet Selva Kumaran held at the Sornambikai hall in Nallur, Jaffna.

The surrender

A commission appointed by the former president of Sri Lanka had recorded evidence that Poet Puthuvai and several other Tamil Tiger leaders surrendered to the Sri Lanka army at the Vattuvahal bridge in the Mullaithivu district on 18 May 2009, a day before the government announced its military victory over Tamil Tigers.

“About 50 of them were taken away in a bus. We have not heard from them since then,” Jeyavathy Yogi, wife of Senior LTTE leader Yogaratnam Yogi, told the Lesssons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in November 2010.

Yogi is among scores of Tamil Tiger leaders alongside Puthuvai who disappeared after surrendering.

"Puthuvai was handed over to the military by his wife. But the government has not been able to provide any information about him. Puthuvai helped many poets and writers. Some of them have become celebrated writers who publish books. Sadly, everybody have forgotten Puthuvai," said an emotional Minister Ainkaranesan delivering the keynote speech at the book launch.

List of surrendees

Ending years of denial,  Major General Kavinda Chanakya Gunawardena, commander of the 58th Division of  Sri Lanka Army,  told Mullaithivu magistrate court early this year that his division holds a list of all the Tamil Tiger rebels who surrendered to the military.

The government has not made the document available either to courts or affected families.

© JDS

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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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