Tamil political prisoners appeal for release

They expressed hope that there would be a just resolution to their grievances.

Colombo: Political prisoners from the minority Tamil community, including pregnant mothers and children, have appealed to the Sri Lankan government to release them on bail from the high-security New Magazine Prison in the capital.

"Our parents suffered greatly during the war and are still living a life of sorrow just like us. We are also experiencing agony in prison after being held in prison for many years," they wrote in a letter to the newly appointed Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem.

They expressed hope that there would be a just resolution to their grievances following the end of a three-decade civil war last May.

"There are about 765 Tamil prisoners including pregnant mothers, infants, crippled persons and the aged being incarcerated with many diseases minus medical facilities. We feel abandoned," according to the letter quoted in the ColomboPage online.

The prisoners asked Hakeem to honor his pledge to intervene to secure the release of political prisoners.

"You had promised that you would directly intervene for the release of political prisoners and that you would visit the prison to collect the details of all such prisoners in order to raise this issue in Parliament along with Tamil National Alliance," they said.
International and local human rights watchdogs have repeatedly asked the government to free political prisoners in the country after the end of the civil war in the country in May 2009. They have accused Sri Lankan authorities of committing war crimes during a final military offensive against Tamil rebels in the northeastern part of the country, a charge dismissed by the government.

The LTTE launched its armed struggle in 1980`s to create an independent homeland for Sri Lanka?s Tamils to protect them from alleged discrimination at the hands of the ethnic Sinhalese majority.
Government forces crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, ending the LTTE`s quarter-century armed struggle for a separate state. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people were killed in the fighting.

PTI

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