Tamils in Sri Lanka’s northern city of Jaffna on Friday held demonstrations demanding the release of political prisoners held under the prevention of terrorism law since the end to the armed conflict with the LTTE in May 2009.
The protesters gathered opposite to the Governor’s Secretariat holding placards which read, ‘Remove the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act’, ‘Release all political prisoners without any condition’.
A strike was observed in several parts in the North to back the demand for the release of political prisoners.
R Sampanthan, who is the leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena also demanded the release of Tamil political prisoners.
“These persons are held in custody under the Prevention of Terrorism (PTA) law irrespective of whether they have been convicted, have been charged, or have not yet been charged,” he wrote in the letter.
“The only evidence available against most of these persons are confessions extracted from them against their will under the Prevention of Terrorism Law which would be inadmissible against them in normal Court of Law. Many of the cases have been postponed because the Prosecution is not ready to proceed with the Cases,” the letter said.
Sri Lanka has come under increasing international pressure to repeal the PTA enacted in 1979 after Tamils started a bloody campaign for a separate homeland. The three-decades-old campaign ended with the military victory over the LTTE in 2009.
The PTA has been criticised by Tamil and rights activists as it allows indefinite detention of people without charges.
During the armed campaign by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), many activists of the rebel outfit were held under the PTA.