Colombo's racial prejudice against Tamils stands exposed in prisoners release

[TamilNet, Sunday, 12 April 2020, 23:57 GMT]
The SL State released almost three-thousand prisoners from its prisons to halt the spread of the pandemic in jails. However, none of the eighty-four Tamil Political Prisoners were among those released. Although a massacre convicted Sinhala Army soldier was set free, the SL State was not prepared to release even a single Tamil political prisoner (TPP) who has been indefinitely detained for years without trial. At a time when the entire island is supposed to confront the pandemic jointly, why does the SL State discriminate the TPPs, asked 35-year-old Komahan Murugiah, a former TPP from Jaffna. If the SL State was genuine as it claims of being united in the fight against the pandemic, both the state and the collaborating politicians must prove their credibility by releasing the TPPs who are languishing in the jails, Mr Komahan told TamilNet.

Most of the 84 TPPs have been in the jails for more than ten or fifteen years.

Another 16 Tamils have been detained in recent years alleged of attempting to reorganise armed activities after 2009.

Eleven TPPs, who narrowly escaped death or injury at Anuradhapura prison on 21 March when the police fired at the rioting Sinhala prisoners, have been later transferred to Jaffna and Welikade.

The rioting at Anuradhapura took place following a shortage of supplies due to the cancellation of visits and rumours of Coronavirus spread within the prison. Two of the eight inmates injured in the police firing later succumbed to their wounds. Ten of the TPPs were transferred to Jaffna prison, and one was sent to Welikade prison.

A total of 2,961 prison inmates were released between 17 March and 04 April according to the recommendations of a select committee appointed by SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Officials of the Bar Association, SL Ministry of Justice and SL Department of Prisons formed the committee on the directives of Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

There were more than 26,000 inmates in the prisons of the island while the capacity was at 10,000, according to a news release from the SL Presidential Secretariat on 04 April.

Komahan, a former member of the EPDP-run Jaffna Municipal Council in 2010, was detained on the allegation of attempting to assassinate SL military-operated paramilitary operative and EPDP party leader Douglas Devananda. After a long struggle, he was released in February 2016.

Since his release, Komahan has been voicing for the release of all the TPPs.

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