Members and supporters of the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) protested demanding the Sri Lanka government to release Tamil political prisoners who have extensively been detained in prisons.
The protest was held in Jaffna yesterday under the organisation of the TNPF in front on the Jaffna Central Bus Stand and was attended by the leader of the TNPF and parliamentarian, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, parliamentarian Selvarajah Kajendran, members of the TNPF local council among others.
Following the protest, the TNPF tweeted:
“A protest was held today in Jaffna demanding the release of all Tamil political prisoners, including S. Uthayasivam—a land defender, activist against illegal sand mining and illegal fishing practices by Southern fishermen—who has been in detention for 6 months.”
Demonstrators chanted slogans and carried banners and placards during the rally. They chanted; “Does opposing the smuggling of cannabis make Uthayasivam a terrorist?,” “Is it terrorism to oppose the occupation of the Department of Wildlife” and “Release [them], release [them], release [the] political prisoners!”
They carried banners with messages such as “Sri Lanka ban terrorism” and “UN should [put] pressure on GOSL [Government of Sri Lanka] to repeal the PTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] immediately.”
Among the long-term Tamil political detainees is Nalini Sriharan, the sole surviving member of the supposed five-team squad behind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, who has spent the last 29 years in jail. Last week, her mother requested Nalini to be moved from Vellore prison to Puzhal near Chennai, citing mistreatment and threats to her safety.