Feature Article

‘IC turns deaf ear to struggling Eezham Tamil Prisoners of War’

[TamilNet, Thursday, 05 July 2012, 09:05 GMT]
The international community of establishments and their agenda-driven outfits continue to turn deaf-ear to the plight of the Eezham Tamil Prisoners of War (POWs), failing to accord the necessary international legal status to Eezham Tamil POWs, who have become the ‘pawns of genocide’, activists in the island blamed following the reports on Wednesday that a 28-year-old Tamil prisoner, Ganesan Nimalarooban from Nelukku'lam in Vavuniyaa, had succumbed to his injuries at Mahara prison in South. All the 122 prisoners who were inside the raided prison cell in Vavuniyaa last Friday were taken to Anuradhapura prison, where Sinhala prison guards and criminal inmates tortured them for more than 10 hours. 22 of these Eezham Tamil POWs were later transferred to Mahara prison and Nimalarooban, hailng from a poverty-stricken family in the suburb of Vavuniyaa, was one of them.

According to the family of the victim, he was only arrested on mere allegations that he was an LTTE member. The family was struggling to access the body of the victim for burial. The body of the victim is at the mortuary of Ragama government hospital, informed sources said.

Sri Lankan prison guards and Sinhala inmates in the prisons in the South, especially at the notorious Anuradhapura prison, have been torturing and harassing 122 Eezham Tamil Prisoners of War, who were forcefully relocated after the fatal commando attack on the protesting prisoners last Friday, the sources in the South said.

TNA parliamentarians Selvam Adaikkalanathan, Sivasakthi Ananthan and Suresh Premachandran visited Mahara prison on Wednesday. Six of the 22 prisoners transferred to Mahara prison have been admitted at the hospital in the prison, they said. Another four are admitted at public hospital outside the prison, they said. The victim is one of these four, they added.

Suresh Premachandran, the media spokesman of the TNA, speaking to TamilNet said he was concerned that the lives of Tamil ‘political prisoners’ are threatened at the hands of the Sri Lankan prison guards and Sinhala prisoners in Anuradhapura prison. He was counting on legal action in Sri Lankan courts on behalf of the family to get the body of the slain victim.

There were 32 confirmed political prisoners and prisoners of war in Vavuniyaa prison although there were 122 prisoners in total at the raided facility. It was these 32 prisoners who were severely attacked.

Mr Premachandran said he was only able to confirm that 3 prisoners were transferred to Bogombara prison in Kandy, 1 to Anuradhapura and 22 to Mahara.

In the meantime, Jaffna based rights activists have called upon Eezham Tamil diaspora in Norway and Switzerland to take up the matter with their respective governments, which had been engaging with the LTTE and the GoSL till the last moment. They were involved in white-flag surrender of certain LTTE officials and cadres.

The failed peace facilitator Norway should at least work for the status of Prisoners of War to the surrendered cadres, they pointed out. When the international community of establishments that had been repeatedly asking the LTTE to surrender, couldn't give even the status of Prisoners of War to the LTTE cadres, what is the logic in expecting the Eezham Tamils to listen to this international community of establishments as recently urged by Mr Erik Solheim, who had been steering the failed peace process, asked the activists.

“Why the establishments of the IC that seek to control the flow of Tamil asylum seekers taking boats through human trafficking agents, avoid focusing on the plight of the Tamil POWs,” one of the activists further questioned.

Meanwhile, providing details of the raid on Vavuniyaa prison, the sources in Vavuniyaa said that the SL forces had also fired gunshots causing injuries to the suffering prisoners after firing more than 20 tear gas bombs into their cell on Friday.

Many of the prisoners were bleeding and were in unconscious state already when they were brought to Anuradhapura, where they were subjected to torture between 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. They were not provided any food or water.

The ill-treatment of the Tamil POWs were exposed to the global Tamils following the raid on Friday, which has come three years after the end of war.

The Tamil prisoners were peacefully protesting over a number of days, demanding to show them one of their inmates who was subjected to severe torture and was missing after allegedly taken away by the SL military.

However, their protest took the form of a ‘polite’ hostage taking drama, when three Sinhala officers attempted to forcefully feed them to end their hunger strike last week.

The enraged prisoners of war, most them former LTTE cadres, kept three of the prison officers as hostages causing the prison authority to enter into negotiations through a Judge. They were demanding the return of the tortured inmate, Saravanabhavan, for the release. The hostage drama and the ‘negotiation’ failed to produce any result. Later, on Friday, the SL Special Task Force commandos raided their cell.

The news was completely suppressed by the SL prison authorities. Even the southern media that wage a campaign against the ruling regime in Colombo failed to give coverage. The prisoners, using cell-phones, which they kept hidden in their possession, had communicated to the outside world through exiled Tamil journalists who are operating websites from outside the island.

The SL Defence establishment, in a hurried psy-ops manoeuvre twisted the story in its projection against the Tamil diaspora. While doing so it had admitted that there was a violent prison raid where STF commandos were deployed and that the prisoners were transferred. The SL defence establishment alleged that the prisoners were being ‘guided’ over satellite phone by the ‘LTTE diaspora’.

There was no update on the situation of those numbering around 100, who were allegedly being detained in Anuradhapura prison.



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