Feb 23, 2019

Blood, saliva collected from families of missing persons?

The relatives of the missing persons in Mannar had said that a group had been collecting saliva and blood samples from these family members of the missing at the Mannar District Women’s Organization office in Elutur by the Women’s Organisation President named Maha Lakshmi.

The relatives of those missing were taken secretively to their office in batches and their blood and saliva samples were collected where the saliva was tagged and stored in plastic pouches, while the tagged blood samples were stored in coolers. The people were told that the woman engaged in collecting the samples had received special training in Guatemala. However it is believed that no prior legal permission had been obtained for this purpose.

A team from Guatemala is said to have been given these blood and saliva samples supposedly to to be sent to the USA for DNA testing. It is believed that the results would be compared with the bone samples excavated from the mass grave. This team had also collected copies of the birth certificates of the missing person’s families from whom the blood and saliva samples were obtained, including two photos of their missing relative the date the police complaint regarding the disappearance was lodged and written proof of it.

Three foreigners had arrived in Sri Lanka from Guatemala and with the assistance of Maha Lakshmi had held a meeting with the families of the missing persons at the Women’s Organization in Eluthur, Mannar between 8.30 to 01.30 pm on February 07th. The meeting was organized by the said Maha Lakshmi and the participants at this meeting had been shown a demonstration of how DNA is matched.

Around 40 of the families of the missing persons had participated and the foreigners had assured them that they would trace at least one of their missing relatives through this DNA testing process. The group of foreigners from Guatemala are said to be staying in the country for around one month and is expected to carry out the same tests and educate people in Jaffna, Mulaithivu, Trincomalee and Baticaloa districts, according to reliable intelligence sources.

However, the Defence Ministry said no foreign team were given any approval to collect such blood and saliva samples for any purpose and said they were unaware of such a group having visited the country.

Mannar mass grave draws international interest

Meanwhile, the Mannar mass grave site has drawn great attention both internationally and locally, including diplomats and other groups including media groups.

According to information received, the Canadian Ambassador, a Netherland Professor, a Northern Provincial Councilor, An American Embassy representative and his translator, seven persons from People’s Watch from Tamil Nadu, India, The German Ambassador and three journalists from Channel Four including Jonathan Miller, A Secretary from the British High Commission, British politician and Human Rights Representative, A British Religious Affairs Officer and three journalists and the Political Affairs representative from the Canadian High Commission had visited the Mannar mass grave site.

However, it is uncertain if all these visitors to the Mannar mass grave site had been given approval by the local authorities to inspect the site.