- A Precious Gift to Humanity


- The Other Side of the Kingdom

- Convention Now!
Together Now!

- Tying the Future with the Past

- Getting Back on Track


- Still Fighting

- In Memory of the Disappeared

- The Power
 of One


- Protect All Persons From Enforced Disappearances


- Building on Nilo’s Legacy

- Filipinos Fight Against Disappearances

- Justice Suspended

- The Munir Murder - Another Case of Impunity


- FEDEFAM Statement...

- An Open Statement to the GRP and NDFP Panels ...

- Parvez Imroz’ Award...

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against



by Shantha Pathirana



Getting Back on Track


To heal the wounds of the soul is more difficult. Without proper guidance and processing of the traumatic past, a person can go on with life broken and swallowed by their sense of emptiness and depression.Such is the state of many victims of human rights violations. The grave loss of their loved ones threw them off the track of happy and fulfilling lives.

	Sharing a common pain and a common hope for truth and justice, families of the disappeared struggle to heal themselves.In Sri Lanka, majority of its population have been robbed of their peaceful lives. The Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and Burger communities have long been subjected to trauma and fear caused by the two and a half decades of ethnic armed conflict within the region. Hostilities resulted in the disappearance of about 100,000 people in the northern and eastern part of the country. Records further showed that 80,000 more disappeared in the south.

It is no wonder then that according to the World Health Organization, 15 per cent of the population now suffers from mental disorders. This figure is bound to increase if violence in the country persists and if proper interventions are not made.

Ailing society

Families in Sri Lanka do not trouble themselves much to seek rehabilitation. Poverty, for one, hinders them to afford counseling sessions. Incomes would rather be spent for basic needs. Rehabilitation would already be burdensome especially for those who lost their bread winners.

The government has provided various forms of aid to these households but they haven’t made a big impact to improve the affected lives. Other organizations intervened by bringing rehabilitation programs to the communities. But the extent of their assistance proved limited. First, they lacked proper facilities to sustain the program. Second, many traumatized individuals remain to be in a state of denial. Families tend to refuse accepting their programs.

Much, then, still has to be done to gradually help the families heal. Encouragement and comforting words are needed to finally make them realize that the time to start healing is now.

Letting go

The AFAD-initiated rehabilitation activity in Indonesia in December 2004 which brought together families of the disappeared in Asia sparked a light of hope for the Sri Lankan families. Delegates from the activity came home with spirits radiant of their renewed faith in life. The door to acceptance was opened.

Consequently, the re-echoing of this activity in Colombo on 2-4 May 2006, proved successful. A total of 40 participants welcomed Rev. Fr. Ben Moraleda and Ms. Josephine Callejo, two psychologists from the Philippines who facilitated the sessions, into their lives. And by sharing their fears and traumas, they were finally able let go of their painful pasts. As they gradually ease their hearts of their burdens, they learned to take the hand before them which offers to guide them back to the right track of life – a happy, fulfilled life.


Shantha Pathirana is a twin-brother of a disappeared. Having witnessed his brother’s disappearance, he vows to turn his grief into victory in the fight against impunity. Still pained, he manages to exude joy being the best dancer during solidarity nights of AFAD.

 The Voice

Vol. VI No.1 November 2006

Copyright 2007  AFAD - Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
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