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Last updated: 08 March, 2010 - Published 15:46 GMT
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Soldiers 'victimised by government'

Sri Lanka army (file photo)
Family members say they earlier visited Kilinochchi to get imprisoned soldiers released but now visiting Temple Trees for the same purpose

A human rights group representing the families of disappeared military men in Sri Lanka has accused the government of victimising soldiers.

Visaka Dharmadasa, convenor of the Association of War Affected Women (AWAW), said her organisation is currently campaigning to get soldiers arrested by the Rajapaksa administration released.

"During the war, we have been visiting Kilinochchi to seek the release of arrested soldiers from the LTTE," she told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya.

"Now we are going to Temple Trees to meet President Rajapaksa seeking the release of soldiers."

Fonseka supporters

She made the comments as representatives of women's organisations and women from victims' families attended a meeting at JR Jayawardene Centre in Colombo to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

Visaka Dharmadasa
"There was nobody to console us when our children were losing their lives"

The gathering was organised by many women's rights organisations, calling for press freedom, re-establishment of democracy and more representation of women in parliament.

Mrs. Dharmadasa, a previous nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, said politicians only cared about soldiers when the troops started winning against the Tamil Tigers.

"When there were setbacks, when our children were losing their lives, there was nobody to console us," she said.

At least 53 military officers and soldiers, some of them already retired, were arrested by the government after the presidential election.

'Fake tears'

They were suspected of being supporters of the main opposition candidate, Gen (retd.) Sarath Fonseka.

"Accusing that they were in a conspiracy against the government, we are blamed for making an unfair demand. Then it seems we have been totally unfair in demanding the LTTE to release our children who were fighting against them," Ms. Dharmadasa added.

Sandhya Eknaligoda
"When Anoma Fonseka was crying the media made mockery out of her tears"

Anoma Fonseka, the wife of Gen Fonseka who is currently in military custody, urged the women in Sri Lanka "not to betray the dignity for money" or other perks.

She would continue to get her husband released, Mrs. Fonseka said, and to persuade Gen Fonseka to be strong "at a time of need."

Sandhya Eknaligoda, wife of disappeared journalist Prageeth, strongly criticised the state media for making mockery of victimised women's tears and laughter.

"A government official said I was not crying so Prageeth cannot be missing. But when Anoma Fonseka was crying the media made mockery out of her tears," she told BBC Sandeshaya.

Roshini Dandeniya, whose father DG Wijedasa is missing since early 90s said she is determined to find out what happened to her father.

"I have a dream," she said, "I am determined to find out what whether he was killed and who the culprits are while my mother is still alive," she said.

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