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An important meeting between President Maithripala Sirisena, Northern Provincial Councilor, M.K. Sivajilingam and some families of those detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), was held at the Presidential Secretariat last Thursday (19). The meeting followed the President’s visit to Jaffna earlier this month during which Sivajilingam had led a protest against the visit. The President had then met Sivajilingam and the protestors at the scene. Sivajilingam speaking to the Nation said the President had requested a meeting several times during his stay in Jaffna to which the latter had informed that they could meet after the protest. Thursday’s meeting was scheduled after discussions between the Northern Province Governor and Sivajilingam since the President’s visit to the Province. “We requested the President to provide Presidential Pardon to these detainees,” he said. Sivajilingam had briefed the President on the situation of the detainees held under the PTA for years without charges being filed against them.

“The President was not aware of the fact that some of them have been detained for over 20 years. No one has given him the true picture,” he said. Sivajilingam had also urged the President to take steps to repeal the PTA and also release 117 detainees who are languishing without any charges being filed against them. “Approximately 12,000 former cadres were rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society by the previous government. If that could be done, why can’t these prisoners be allowed to come back to the society?” Sivajilingam queried. “We also requested the President to ensure that the inmates are provided with vocational training so that they would be kept occupied and would have something to look for in the event they are released,” he added. He said that the President had promised to look into the issue after discussing with the Attorney General in the coming days. The President also met representatives of the Tamil Students Association of the Jaffna University regarding the same issue.