Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, Charles Nirmalanathan has urged the Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to take immediate action to release all remaining political prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), after 16 Tamil political prisoners received presidential pardons at the end of June.
During a press conference at his Mannar office last week, Nirmalanathan spoke on behalf of prisoners "who appealed to the High Court, who are awaiting trial, and those detained without charges.”
“Presidential pardons should be used to release the 58 people who are still in prison, who were arrested under the [PTA] in 2012, 2013 and 2014 after the end of the war in 2009,” he said.
He labelled the continued arrests under the guise of terroism prevention as ‘unlawful’ adding that after ‘this new government came into power many have been arrested under the PTA for allegedly publishing pro LTTE news on social media [...] they must be released as well.”
Nirmalananthan questioned the motives of the Sri Lankan government since pardons were only granted to Tamil prisoners whose detentions were due to end in the near future anyway, whilst also highlighting that the president used the opportunity to release and pardon convicted murderer and state ally, Duminda Silva despite the pardon receiving condemnation from the UNHRC and US ambassador for Sri Lanka.
As the Sri Lankan state begins arresting southern politicians who oppose the state as terroists, “Sinhalese people will realise the insidiousness of the Prevention of Terrorism Act,” he said.