Protests widen in Jaffna as hunger-striking political prisoners’ health deteriorates

[TamilNet, Thursday, 05 October 2017, 22:11 GMT]
Both the governing and the opposition parties at the Northern Provincial Council have urged immediate action from Colombo on the burning issue of Tamil political prisoners, who have been on a fast unto death for the past 11 days at Anuradhapura prison. On Wednesday, the students, academics and non-academic staff at the University of Jaffna staged a protest for 2 hours demanding SL Attorney Department in Colombo not to transfer the cases of Tamil political prisoners away from the courts in the North and East, where their cases could be heard in Tamil language. In the meantime, S. Thavarajah, the opposition leader at the NPC, who represents the EPDP, described the demands of the Tamil prisoners as a reasonable. “They were only demanding their cases to be heard in front of Tamil-speaking judges in their native language in the North, which is a constitutionally recognised right,” he said.



The EPDP politician visited the prisoners who are ‘accused’ as former LTTE members by the SL ‘Terrorist Investigation Division’. The SL TID, which has manipulated evidences against the three hunger-striking prisoners, was also instrumental in getting the SL Attorney General's Department to transfer their cases to Anuradhapura Special Court away from Vavuniyaa High Court.

Mr Thavarajah described the condition of the hunger-striking Tamil prisoners as “very bad and very pathetic” and said he was unable to persuade the prisoners to give up their hunger strike.

The prisoners have gone on hunger strike several times before and each time they have been assurances, which were not honoured by Colombo's judicial system. The Tamil prisoners are therefore insisting this time that they should be given assurances in clear terms and that they would continue their protest until their demand is met.

The ITAK, particularly its parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran, who was on travel outside the island, was trying to convince the hunger strikers to abandon their strike, said Ms Puspamala Mathiyarasan, the mother of one of the hunger striker Mr Sulaxan.

The ITAK is trying to quench the protests while the EPDP was urging the media in Jaffna to bring awareness towards the protest of the three hunger strikers.

In the meantime, the student leaders at the University of Jaffna said they were planning future course of action demanding the SL State to recognise all Tamils imprisoned under the so-called Prevention of Terrorism Act and Emergency Regulations as political prisoners.

Former LTTE members are Prisoners of War and they should be recognised at least as political prisoners by the SL State, said one of the student leaders who was discussing the situation of the hunger strikers with the kith and kin of the protesting Tamil prisoners.


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