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Art exhibition held in Jaffna demands the release of Tamil political prisoners

An art exhibition was held in Jaffna by the Voice of the Voiceless, demanding the immediate release of Tamil political prisoners.

“Any dream of the political prisoners returning to their families this Thai Pongal have been shattered,” said former political prisoner and Voice of the Voiceless coordinator, Murugiah Komakan at the event earlier this month.

He added, “As of January 14th 2021, 64-year-old Kanagasabai Devadasan, an elderly Tamil political prisoner, has been on a seven-day hunger strike at the Colombo Magazine prison.”

Devadasan, has served 12 years of a life sentence and is awaiting an appeal hearing. However, authorities postponed his court appearance after he contracted the coronavirus. Devadasan began a hunger strike after being frustrated by the continuous delays of his hearing, being denied bail, and fearing he may never get justice.

“If he is suffering from coronavirus infection and continues to fast […] it may result in irreversible consequences after that there is no point in chanting,” said Komakan.

Komakan also stressed how Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been granting amnesty to many prisoners since he took office. “Last week the President pardoned and released former chief monk of the Sri Bodhirajarama temple in Megawatt, Uvathenne Sumana who was sentenced to life in prison for the possession of firearms.”

“It is a worry, whether the President has forgotten Tamil political prisoners. The government must show mercy to Tamil political prisoners who have also been suffering in prison for so long,” he added.

Komakan mentioned Tamil political prisoner Ragupathi Sharma who tested positive for the virus and his family who worry that he is bedridden and in pain. He also noted that Tamils are banned from commemorating Lt. Col. Thileepan in Jaffna and then urged for solidarity among Tamil National political parties and leaders.

“More than a dozen political prisoners have tragically died in prison in the last 7 years, the Voice of the Voiceless calls on all parties to come together as one voice to unite prisoners with their families while they are still alive.”

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