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Tamil political prisoner attends mother’s funeral – before being taken back to jail

A Tamil political prisoner who has been imprisoned for over 26 years was allowed to briefly attend the funeral of his mother who had passed away after campaigning tirelessly for his release, before being escorted back into Sri Lankan detention.

Vigneswaranathan Parthiban was arrested aged just 19 years old, over his alleged involvement in the 1996 Central Bank Bombing. He has spent more time in prison than outside it.

His mother Vakeeswari had campaigned for her son to be released or pardoned for decades. She passed away on Wednesday evening and had her funeral on Sunday in Jaffna. Dozens of mourners, including close relatives, attended the funeral. Many lamented how her struggle to free her son ended with her never being able to see him free from prison.

Parthiban was allowed to attend her funeral, but was shortly accompanied back to Sri Lankan detention afterwards.

Parthiban is one of several Tamil political prisoners still languishing in Sri Lankan detention. It is unknown how many continue to be detained under the PTA, but lawmakers claim hundreds of Tamil political prisoners continue to languish in Sri Lankan prisons under the act.

In October 2021, a Tamil man from Amparai who was incarcerated as a teenager was released after being held for 12 years without charge. In December that same year, another 45-year-old Tamil man was released and acquitted of all charges after 15 years in detention. Recent years has seen the use of the PTA ramp up under the presidency of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Sivagnanam Sritharan told Sri Lanka’s parliament in October 2021 that, “39 [Tamils were] arrested in North-East in last three months” alone. 

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