Kalutara wounded "being neglected" - MP

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 January 2000, 12:34 GMT]
A Tamil parliamentarian who visited the detainees wounded in the violence at Kalutara prison and admitted to Nagoda hospital told TamilNet that they had not received medical care in the hospital and are being kept chained to their beds. Meanwhile reports say one more detainee has succumbed to his injuries, bringing the death toll to 3.

Mr.P.Selvarajah, MP for Batticaloa District, said the injured detainees are being held with their legs and hands cuffed are chained to beds. Two injured detainees are chained to one bed with blood stained clothes he added.

He alleged that detainees had died as they had been denied timely and adequate medical care.

The MP said detainees were injured when they were assaulted by prison guards. He denied reports of clashes between inmates and the guards.

Detainees held in Block F were assaulted on Thursday and the following day the detainees in Block G were assaulted, according to him.

He said desperate detainees threw pebbles at the guards who were assaulting them, and alleged that prison authorities were trying covering up the truth as to what had transpired.

Mr. Selvarajah said he went to the hospital along with another MP, Mavai Senathirajah, and Additional Mayor of the Jaffna Municipal Council, Ravi Raj yesterday afternoon.

However prison-guards at the hospital did not allow them to see the detainees and told them to bring a letter from the Director of the Kalutara Prison.

"We contacted the Deputy Minister of Justice, Dilan Perera, who said he will clear our visit to the hospital. However, we were not allowed to visit the detainees," Mr.Selvarajah said.

"Then we drove to Kalutara Prison where we met the Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Director of the Kalutara Prison. They did not want to give permission first. Then they agreed and sent a prison guard with us to the hospital", the MP added.

"When we saw the injured detainees at the hospital, we realised why they did not wish to allow us to visit them", he said.

Mr.Selvarajah said many of the wounded Tamils were exhausted and were passing out. "They had not been given water to drink. They were not able to move their legs," he said.

"We asked the docters to attend to them. However up to the point we left the hospital, no one had attended to them," he added.

843 prisoners are held at the Kalutara prison. About 800 of them are Tamil, mostly held on suspicion under Sri Lanka's Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

There is separate block for women detainees, but 168 men are detained at this block, according to prison officials as there are no women detainees at Kalutara.

The detainees were protesting as the prison authorities were planning to separate this block and its residents permanently from the rest of the prison.

 

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