Tamil Civil Society Rallies Round Tamil Political Prisoners’ Struggle

The Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) has extended its support to the hunger strike protest undertaken by Tamil political prisoners demanding their immediate release.

TCSF Convener - Bishop of Mannar, Dr. Rayappu Joseph

Issuing a statement the TCSF said that it would take part in the token strike and protests being planned to be staged by prisoners’ relatives all across the North-East in the forthcoming days.

“TCSF adopts the definition of political prisoners that Amnesty International uses in its work. Accordingly it is our opinion that our brethren who took up arms for the sake of the liberation of the Tamil people and those who supported it, despite being criminalized by Sri Lankan laws, did so for a political reason and hence belong to the category of political prisoners. It has been 6 years since the end of the war and it is our opinion that if the Sri Lankan Government is interested in genuine reconciliation that they should immediately release all political prisoners languishing in its prisons.

“Even when looked from within the perspective of the Sri Lankan law (including the Prevention of Terrorism Act) we wish to point out that the indefinite pre-trial of many of these political prisoners is unlawful. As per Section 9 (1) of the PTA pre-trial preventive detention is only available for a maximum of 18 months and many who are being detained without trial beyond 18 months are being unlawfully imprisoned. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to direct the Attorney General to either indict or release these prisoners forthwith.

“Recently in a High Court judgment delivered in a case involving the attempted murder of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga a woman who was languishing in prison for more than 15 years was found not guilty. It is reasonable to assume that many such similar persons are being kept in prisons during prolonged trials owing to the fact that there is no bail under the PTA. We urge that the Government direct the Attorney General to use his powers under the proviso to Section 7(1) and not unreasonably withhold his consent for bail pending trial. We also urge the Government to initiate steps to repeal the PTA.”

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