President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday pledged to commence a special process at the end of the month to address and solve the issues of Tamil prisoners arrested and detained under the prevention of terrorism laws. The undertaking was conveyed to Justice Minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Opposition Leader, R. Sampanthan over a telephone conversation on Friday (16) morning.
According to Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian, M.A. Sumanthiran, the President had told that the government would commence a special process on October 31 to solve this issue, which would be complete by November 7.
MPs Sampanthan and Sumanthiran had met Rajapashe at the Justice Ministry on Friday morning to discuss the issues of prisoners who had launched a hunger strike, calling for their release and to expedite the cases which had been in progress for years.
Both Rajapakshe and Sumanthiran had visited prison inmates in the Welikada prison last week where the former had pledged to convene a high level meeting of government ministers to discuss the demands raised by the prisoners. He had also pledged to solve the issue by the end of the year.
The high level meeting was initially planned to be held early next week and was to include Justice Minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of National Dialogue, Mano Ganesan, and Minister of Resettlement, D.M. Swaminathan.
However, Sumanthiran stated that the proposals were rejected by the prisoners. “As a result, we met with the Minister on Friday to discuss this issue during which the Minister made a phone call to the President in our presence,” he said.
“We do not know what this process is. It is up to the Cabinet to decide on what it should be and how it should be implemented,” Sumanthiran added.
Commissioner General of Prisons, Rohana Pushpakumara told The Nation that by Friday (16) 151 inmates from Colombo (100), Anuradhapura (30), Batticaloa (9), and Bogambara (12) had launched hunger strike calling for their release. “All these suspects have cases filed against them and have called for their release since the cases have been going on for years,” Pushpakumara said.
Meanwhile, nine inmates involved in the hunger strike were been admitted to prison hospital for treatment.
Speaking to The Nation, Minister of National Dialogue, Mano Ganesan, stated that the inmates should be pardoned and released. “These prisoners should be given amnesty. Those who were involved in the JVP insurrection were given amnesty,” Ganesan said. “Similarly, those who had led armed groups in the North have been given amnesty through the Indo-Lanka Accord and some of them are MPs now. Therefore, I don’t see why these prisoners should not be released,” he added.