Former LTTE member and leader of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam TGTE) Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran said that the continued indeterminate detention of these prisoners constitutes continuing serious breaches of international law.
He said that all of the Tamil prisoners have been held because of their alleged involvement in the country’s armed conflict, a conflict that ended on May 18, 2009.
The TGTE demands that the government of Sri Lanka fulfill its obligations under international law and immediately release all Tamil prisoners currently being held.
The also TGTE calls upon the government of Sri Lanka and the international community to publicly recognize these detainees as persons protected by international law.
“Their continued detention without any end in sight is a serious breach of the Geneva conventions and customary international law,” Rudrakumaran said.
The TGTE also called on the Norwegian government, which has previously acted as a facilitator during the conflict, and the Co-Chairs of the Ceasefire Agreement, namely the US, UK, EU, and Japan and India, to intervene and urge Sri Lanka to meet its obligations under international law.
The TGTE also called upon the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights to use his good offices to effect the immediate release of those held in violation of international law.
On the 12thof October, nearly 200 Tamil prisoners held in Sri Lanka began a hunger strike calling for their immediate release. It was reported that three of them had been hospitalized because of their deteriorating condition.
Following that, the Sri Lankan government gave the hunger strikers an assurance that it would resolve the issue of their continued detention before the 7thof November. The Tamil prisoners suspended their hunger strike relying on this assurance but stated they would resume their fast if they remain detained after November 7th. It was reported that the Sri Lankan government was considering releasing 32 persons on bail before November 9th and another group of 30 persons before November 28th. The Tamil prisoners saying that the above was not satisfactory have now resumed their hunger strike. Most of the 200 Tamils detained for over six years have never been formally charged with any crime. (Colombo Gazette)