Sri Lanka pardons prisoners on Independence Day
[TamilNet, Saturday, 04 February 2006, 10:59 GMT]
None of those arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations (ER) were among the 2042 prisoners who were released on Presidential pardon on Sri Lanka's "Independence Day," Saturday. However, it was the first time some prisoners from the Northeast were released from the Sri Lankan prisons in Jaffna and Batticaloa. Meanwhile, the much-awaited release of Mr.S.B.Dissanayake, a political prisoner of the opposition UNP, did not take place.
This year the list of prisoners recommended for presidential pardon was prepared by the Ministry of Justice deviating from the earlier procedure under which the Commissioner General of Prisons prepared the list.
396 prisoners from Welikade, 257 from Bogompara, 200 from Anuradhapura, 113 from Mahara, 2 from Pusa, 10 from Jaffna and 10 from Batticaloa were among the priosoners released, sources said.
Mr.S.B.Dissanayake, National Organizer of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) who was jailed for two years of rigorous imprisonment from December 2004 for contempt of the Supreme Court, was not released.
Meanwhile, the peaceful agitation campaign launched on Thursday in Colombo by a group of political parties demanding the release of Mr.S.B.Dissanayake entered third day. At the starting event of the campaign Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe said besides the release of Mr.Dissanayake his civil rights should also be restored.
Mr.Rauff Hakim, Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Venerable Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera, dissident parliamentarian of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), and representatives of the Ceylon Workers Congress, Upcountry Peoples Front (UPF), Western Peoples Front (WPF) and United Left Front (ULF) also spoke at the event.