Concerns raised on Tamil political prisoner issue

The number of Tamil political prisoners, even by the most conservative estimate, is at least 200, some of whom have been detained without charge for more than a decade. In mid-November, responding to an ongoing hunger strike by Tamil political prisoners and a hartal organized by Tamil political parties including the Tamil National Alliance, the Sri Lankan Government promised political prisoners that their cases would at least be reviewed by December 15. While the government has made certain statements regarding political prisoners in the interim, December 15 has come and gone and the Sri Lankan Government has yet to follow through on this promise in any concrete manner or present a clear plan on how they intend to address this issue. The Canadian Tamil Congress (“CTC”) says it is deeply concerned that the Government has failed to uphold its promise to Tamil political prisoners that it would review their cases and ensure their release by December 15, 2015.CTC says it is dedicated to working towards the fulfillment of the resolution on promoting accountability and reconciliation co-sponsored by the Sri Lankan government at the most recent Human Rights Council session, and appreciates the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to do the same. However, in order for any real progress to be made, CTC says the Sri Lankan Government must first take meaningful confidence-building measures to address ongoing human rights violations in order to gain the trust of the Tamil people. One such urgently needed confidence-building measure is to address the situation of Tamil political prisoners. “It is critical that the Sri Lankan government take legitimate action on this issue if they are to build confidence in the Tamil community towards real accountability and reconciliation,” Raj Thavaratnasingham, President of the Canadian Tamil Congress said. CTC accordingly calls on the Sri Lankan Government to demonstrate its commitment to accountability and reconciliation by either releasing or bringing to trial all Tamil political prisoners without delay. (Colombo Gazette)