Two Tamil prisoners resume hunger strike

Two disgruntled prisoners at the Welikada Magazine prison resumed their third day’s fast last week and more are expected to follow, demanding that the government keeps its promise on their early release, prison sources said.

This follows one month after Tamil prisoners in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) called off their nine-day fast-unto-death,

The second fast-unto-death staged by the Tamil prisoners in prisons across the country called off their fast on November 17 on the assurance given by Prisons Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M.Swaminathan in the presence of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) frontliners, including its Jaffna parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran.

Murugiah Komagan and Sivarajah Jeneeban are the two prisoners who resumed the fast demanding their unconditional and immediate release.

Sections of the judiciary, especially the Attorney General’s Department, continue to remain indifferent to this sensitive issue and negotiations on securing the early release of the prisoners, in keeping with the government’s assurance, have not so far been successful , Minister Swaminathan told the Sunday Observer.

The Minister had already held discussions with the Attorney General last week and another meeting with the Solicitor General Suhada Gamlath is scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, he said. Gamlath is now abroad and is expected to participate in tomorrow’s meeting, he said.

He told the Sunday Observer that 20 more prisoners were to be released in addition to the 39 who had already been released. He said arrangements had been finalised with Attorney General Yuvanjana J.W. Wijayatilake on sending the released prisoners on a one- year rehabilitation program before integrating them into society.

Of the 216 prisoners who had been in detention under the PTA, 48 had been convicted, 116 were facing trial after charge sheets were served on them and the remaining 52 have not been charge-sheeted so far, according to official sources. Minister Swaminathan regretted the government could not keep its promise to release these prisoners before December 15.

The TNA staged a hartal in the North and East simultaneously with the fast-unto-death of prisoners last month and party spokesman, Sumanthiran accused the government of not keeping its promise.