By Ratna Bala –
His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka
You already know the plight of the Tamil prisoners arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) held in prisons for many years. They may have had hope that end of war would pave the way for them to be with their families soon. Since then they have made several kind requests for compassionate consideration of their plight. When all their hopes were in vain for last six years as last resort they are now on fast unto death-sathyagraha and praying that your heart will feel their anguish and come to rescue them.
Thirty years of brutal war have done enough damage to our people and the country. Many parents have lost their children, many children have become orphans and many women have become widows. Many have disappeared and their loved ones are still looking for them.
These people who were arrested under PTA have spent many valuable years of their lives in prison and seen their lives silently nibbled away. All these years they lived with hurting heart knowing their parents and families too are undergoing extreme hardship outside the fence. For all these years of sufferings many of them haven’t done any significant crime that can’t be pardoned at this juncture.
After the end of war we are talking and talking about reconciliation without any significant steps to build trust and hope. Only if we can listen to our own people we can find what is important to heal ourselves. With so much of talking, over and over again we lose sight of what is important and what isn’t.
I earnestly appeal for your magnanimity to pardon these prisoners, who have not been proven to be committed any major crime, before they succumb with their despair. Please also ensure to provide help for them to live as responsible citizens. Risks and cost are nothing considering the hope and trust established by this noble act. This would without doubt build bridges and narrow the gulf between communities.
I am very reluctant to write this appeal. Many political leaders have already requested to release them. I really don’t know how this would persuade or contribute more. Even then my heart feels confident and believes for sure that you would help them to reunite with their families without further delay.
Dr. R.J. Bala