20 hospitalized 10 serious – Govt. to consider transfer of political prisoners to rehab camp

Sri Lanka army soldiers take up position in the north-eastern region of Weli Oya on March 27, 2008. Sri Lanka has launched a probe into a mystery poster campaign that is asking would-be Tamil Tiger suicide bombers to turn themselves in to government hands in return for cash. Tens of thousands have died since the LTTE launched an armed struggle in 1972, to carve out a separate homeland for minority Tamils from the majority Sinhalese community in the island's north and east. The Tigers are fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils from the majority Sinhalese community in the island's north and east. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

BY RUWAN LAKNATH JAYAKODY

The government said that due to the serious nature of the debilitating health conditions of political prisoners currently on a fast unto death, a political decision regarding the transfer of all political prisoners to a rehabilitation camp programme would have to be taken.

Minister of National Dialogue Mano Ganeshan said that this political decision was presently the only way out, adding that he would be speaking to President Maithripala Sirisena regarding the matter.

There are currently two extreme schools of thought in this regard, one, where there is a demand for a total amnesty for all while the other calls the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres to be kept detained as they are, the Government of Sri Lanka has taken neither, he added.
The political prisoners are presently on hunger strike, which has left 20 hospitalized and the condition of 10 are not so very good as they are facing a serious condition, he observed.

“We have given bail to over 30 prisoners taken in under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I have spoken to the fasting political prisoners. The period of rehabilitation will depend on the charges levelled against them. The prisoners have agreed to this. A minimum or maximum of one year could be considered, but a final word cannot be given pertaining to this as the matter must be discussed with the Attorney General first. As requested by the Tamil National Alliance, there is no possibility for a blanket amnesty to be given for everybody. Rehabilitation is nothing new. Even during the previous regime, thousands of LTTE cadres were rehabilitated and sent home. Back in the day, the same was the case with Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna insurgents. A political decision has to be taken. This is the only way out. No one should die,” Ganeshan remarked