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Brother, when the army caught me, I was only 17 years old.

S. Mahendran

Prison Number Y-13139 “G” Ward,

New Magazine Prison,

Borella Colombo-09.

September 16, 2007


Brother, even when I was 17, when I used to eat breakfast, I made rice balls out of the old rice, curd, sugar, salt and banana.

Brother, when the army caught me, I was only 17 years old. I’ve been in prison for 14 years now.

How many people have come here and gone? Nothing at all has changed.

When I turned 19 I got sentenced a life sentence and 70 years in prison.

When they sentenced me, I cried, Brother.

Even when my mother tried to console me, I couldn’t bear it. She said, “you’re a man. You shouldn’t cry.”

Do you even know how many prisons I have been in? Batticaloa Prison. Welikada Prison. Bogambara Prison. Magara Prison. Boosa Prison. Anuradhapura Prison. Badulla Prison. Kalutara Prison.

You have no idea how difficult things are here in prison. No water. Not even toilets. There’s nothing here. I can’t even talk about food. It’s awful. This is what I have been eating, this awful food is what I have been eating for 14 years.

You’re jokingly telling me to plant a bomb here. All those people that made bombs, nothing has happened. I don’t have even soap to wash my clothes. You call that human rights? Bullshit. You talk about rights. All of you who talk about human rights are frauds brother. Instead of writing all of this, you should have got me an attorney, brought him here and said “tell your story. Let’s see.” Then I’ll tell everything.

I haven’t studied. I can’t even write my name. Okay, brother. Now you write everything I have just told you.

Thank you.



S. Mahendran


A letter dictated by Sellapillai Mahendran, a Tamil political prisoner who died on January 1 after 26 years of imprisonment. He was arrested during a round-up in Batticaloa on September 27, 1993. Two years later, he was sentenced to 70 years in prison and life imprisonment based on a confession produced following a month of torture in detention. After appealing the conviction at Sri Lanka's Supreme Court, the 70-year sentence was reduced to 10 years but the life sentence was upheld.

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