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Protests continue demanding release of political prisoners

A demonstration was held in Nelliady on Saturday by locals demanding the release of Tamil political prisoners, who have been held largely without charge indefinitely. 

Earlier this month the TNA met with the Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena urging him to release the prisoners. 

In a statement following the meeting the TNA delegation, which included M A Sumanthiran, Mavai Senathiraja and Selvam Adaikkalanathan said they had stressed that the issue of political prisoners should not only to be seen from a legal point of view. This is an issue relating to the Tamil National question. This should be seen from the political point of view. This has not been approached politically until now, but it must be. 

The TNA delegation added: 

Over 9 years have passed since the end of the war. The issue of political prisoners should have been resolved once the war was ended. The political prisoners have been in prison for a long time. This is inhumane to continuously keep them in prison. If they had been given the penalty, they would have come out of prison now completing their sentence. 

All of them were arrested under PTA and charged under PTA. For many, the confession statement which was obtained under PTA remains the main evidence against them. The Sri Lankan government has submitted a new bill to Parliment to abolish PTA. Under this new bill, the confession statement will not become an evidence. In this context, prisoners should be released. 

Many of those from the JVP, who took up arms against the government were later released. After the end of the war, 12,000 cadres were rehabilitated and released under the previous government. 

Prisoners have held protest doing a hunger strike. They have temporarily suspended their protest as per our request. Civilians, civil society organisation and university students have been holding many protests. These reflect the sentiments of the Tamil people. 

The opinion of the Tamil people is that the government does not pay enough attention, because the prisoners are Tamils. This is harmful to reconciliation. 

On October 14 campaigners held a demonstration in Navanthurai, Jaffna on the issue of political prisoners. 

Campaigners had pledged to continue their protests urging the release of Tamil political prisoners over weeks and months to come.