2ND LEAD

Condition of hunger strikers deteriorates in Chengalpet detention camp

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 27 June 2012, 20:57 GMT]
As the indefinite hunger strike by Eezham Tamil refugees in the notorious Chengalpet ‘special camp’ in Tamil Nadu enters its 12th day, 9 out of the 14 inmates fasting have been hospitalized, with 8 of them in a critical condition. A total of 29 detainees, who have been locked up in inhuman conditions on charges based on flimsy grounds, have been demanding release and relocation to their families outside or to the other ‘normal camps’. But despite their deteriorating conditions and protests by political parties in the recent past, the authorities have shown silence. Speaking to TamilNet, an inmate who did not want to be named appealed to the Tamil diaspora to use their influence and to work with concerned forces in Tamil Nadu to highlight the injustices that the Tamil refugees have been facing in such detention camps in the state.

Stating the miserable conditions in the camp and the physical and psychological humiliations they face as refugees, he said that as long as the Eezham Tamils are deprived of their homeland, they would remain in such status, adding that Tamil Eelam was needed for them to live in a humane environment with dignity and peace.

Of the protestors, one has developed a low pulse rate, while three others are suffering from haematuria, medical sources said.

All of the 29 inmates have been detained in the camp for not having a passport.

While the authorities have claimed in a report in the Indian newspaper Times of India that they have been kept here only for “recent criminal activities”, civil society activists working on this issue deny it as baseless allegation.

Protests by political outfits and civil society organizations opposing their detention took place last week too, but to no avail.

A new demonstration involving different political outfits and civil groups has been called for by film director Pugazhendhi Thangaraj this Saturday at Chengalpet in solidarity with the hunger strikers, to demand closure of the camp and the release of the detainees.

Speaking to TamilNet, Thirumurugan Gandhi of the May 17 Movement called upon the diaspora to register their protest to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and to Indian consulates to secure an unconditional release of the detained inmates and to ensure closure of such notorious detention facilities.

“This camp is India’s Guantanamo Bay. India is not even following basic premises of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Let alone refugee rights, these Tamils are beyond judicial rights too,” he said, contrasting the visibly superior treatment given to Tibetan refugees and the rehabilitation works set-up for the Afghan refugees in India.

“As there is a Tamil diaspora that is globally present, we should stand up in one voice for this cause to address the unjust stand that the Indian government takes against the Eezham Tamils,” he said.

Around 100,000 registered Eezham Tamil refugees in camps and more than that number living outside, do not come under any international convention of refugees and are deprived of basic rights of refugees since the Indian establishment is not a signatory to any international convention related to refugees.

However, the refugees gagged of political voice and political mobilisation for more than quarter a century, are being used by the New Delhi establishment for its agenda in the island of Sri Lanka, accuse rights activists in Chennai.


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