Rain has turned the red earth roads of Kiula, Hungama in the Southern Province to mud and the skies are overcast. In the verandah of a bright pink house, five women – U.P. Somaseeli, K.D. Jayantha, A.T. Hemalatha, K.P. Somawathi and S.M. Pemasili – are settling in to plastic chairs to share their experiences.
“It’s not often that people come to talk to us, especially because so much time has passed,” they say.
These women’s husbands were forcibly disappeared in the Southern Province during what is called the ‘Bheeshana Yugaya’ (Age of Terror). This is the period between 1988 and 1990, during the second Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) insurrection, and the ruling United National Party’s (UNP) brutal response to it. Their experiences recall a time of immense fear and uncertainty. Violence came from many sources: the JVP intimidating civilians into supporting them and murdering government personnel and those who opposed it; the Police and Army abducting, torturing and killing anyone suspected or simply accused of being JVP supporters; and paramilitary squads doing the same.
Three decades have passed since the women last saw their husbands. Since then, there is nothing they have not tried their hands at in order to raise their children, who have now moved on with their own lives. Over time, they have come together with the many other women and families with stories just like theirs, to seek the truth, justice, relief, and to simply share those stories.
“It has been thirty years, but the pain of this loss has not reduced at all.”
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Updated On: 08/30/2019