Bishop pleads for Tamil political prisoners' release

[TamilNet, Monday, 07 October 2002, 20:33 GMT]
Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph Bishop of Mannar made an urgent appeal to Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe Monday immediate action is required to save fasting Tamil political prisoners from death. The Bishop said that he visited the Kalutara prison Sunday and that condition of the fasting prisoners is deteriorating rapidly. “Fourteen have become unconscious, forty seven have vomited blood and the rest I saw sitting or lying, most of them senseless”, the Mannar Bishop said.

The following is the full text of his letter:

I wish to very urgently bring to your notice the frightful situation of the Tamil prisoners at Kalutara and wish to solicit your immediate action within a day regarding the same, in order to prevent deaths and consequent commotion. I visited them yesterday Sunday the 6th instant.

rayappu_joseph_1.jpgSixteen of them are on the roofs, according to the list given to me in the presence of the Senior Superintendent of Prisons, by the Tamil prisoners, 14 have become unconscious, 47 have vomited blood and the rest I saw sitting or lying, most of them senseless. I saw with my eyes the nightmare of bringing down from the roof one of those who fainted when I was there.

They expect a government representative to meet them. Their expectation had been so far futile and deaths are imminent. They are becoming hardened of heart and I had promised them that I will some way or the other reach the Hon. Prime Minister and bring their plight to his notice.

The demand of these prisoners is that the remand prisoners under section 5 and those kept in the remand on forced confessions invariably under torture (805 are such) be released and those convicted under the draconian PTA and Emergency law be given amnesty. My urgent request in the name of peace in the country is that your Honor, without loss of time, meet these dying prisoners through your personal representative in order to see their sorry plight and to tell them what the government can do to them immediately within a specified time frame. This is the only way open to prevent deaths and it is indispensable. Thank you for your kindness to treat this matter as your immediate priority.


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