The Sunday Leader

More Punishment For Handicapped LTTE Prisoners

 

  • Cruel and inhumane treatment by Anuradhapura Prison Guards

By Nirmala Kannangara

Colombo Remand Prison and Anuradhapura Prison

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has sought the Justice Minister’s intervention to get the physically handicapped LTTE prisoners now held at the Colombo Remand Prison (CRP) and Anuradhapura prison released, TNA Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran said.

At a meeting held on December 15 with Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem at the TNA Parliamentary Office, the TNA parliamentary group had requested Minister Hakeem to release the physically handicapped LTTE prisoners who are currently serving jail terms in the CRP and Anuradhapura prison as they have been thoroughly neglected by the prison officials despite their disabilities.
“There are around 40 to 50 physically handicapped prisoners in the CRP and Anuradhapura prison who are unable to attend to their own work without any support. Not only has the Prisons Department failed to provide the necessary facilities to these disabled prisoners but also the prison guards have deliberately failed to give them a helping hand in their day to day activities,” Premachandran told The Sunday Leader.
According to Premachandran, none of these physically handicapped prisoners are able to do their work alone. “Many of them have lost limbs and some of those who have their limbs are paralyzed. It is the duty of the Prisons Department to provide the necessary facilities for these prisoners, or deploy special staff to take care of them. If nothing is possible then there is no other alternative but to release them to their immediate families who would take care of them for the rest of their lives,” said Premachandran.
Meanwhile TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran said the decision to make such a request to Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem came after they received letters from the physically handicapped prisoners over the past three months.
“We have been receiving letters from these prisoners informing us about the difficulties they are facing in attending to their daily activities. If not for their fellow Tamil political prisoners in these two prisons these handicapped prisoners would have had a tough time to attend to their own work,” said Sumanthiran.
Accusing certain prison guards in Anuradhapura, Sumanthiran told The Sunday Leader that they have been cruel to the Tamil political prisoners. “On Sunday November 27, the prison guards in the Anuradhapura prison had assaulted the Tamil political prisoners, stripped them and made them stand in heavy rain. Prisoners too are human beings and they have been sent to jail as a punishment. The jail guards have no right to give them additional punishments,” he said.
According to Sumanthiran, following the unfortunate incident in Anuradhapura some of the TNA Parliamentarians had met Minister Hakeem and Rehabilitation and Prisons Reform Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera on November 28 and requested them to transfer the Tamil prisoners to the Vavuniya prison for their safety.
“We made this request as we fear for these Tamil prisoners’ lives. If they are transferred to Vavuniya it would be easy for their families to visit them regularly. When we visited them on November 29, we assured them (prisoners) that they would be transferred to Vavuniya. Later on they called off their Satyagraha. We saw how the physically handicapped prisoners are suffering in Anuradhapura. We also visited the CRP to see the rest of the handicapped prisoners on December 15 and saw how they too are suffering due to the lack of facilities. That was why we made the request to the Justice Minister,” added Sumanthiran.
Minister Hakeem had promised the TNA MPs that he would speak to the Attorney General to find out what action could be taken to release the handicapped prisoners according to Sumanthiran.
“We were assured that necessary action would be taken for the release of these Tamil handicapped prisoners immediately,” said Sumanthiran.
However, the Commissioner General of Prisons when contacted by The Sunday Leader denied that there were any physically handicapped Tamil prisoners in the CRP.
“Who said that there are handicapped Tamil prisoners in the CRP? We do not have any such handicapped prisoners in the Colombo prison, they are all in rehabilitation centers,” he said.
However reliable prison sources on condition of anonymity confirmed to The Sunday Leader that there are a few handicapped Tamil prisoners in the CRP.
“After Gen. Sarath Fonseka was brought to Welikada, all the Tamil political prisoners were transferred from Welikada to the CRP and Magazine Prison. There are a few handicapped Tamil prisoners who are unable to do even their own work. However we have to keep in mind that they were once hardcore terrorists who lost their limbs on the battle field. They have to be rehabilitated before they are released,” the sources added.
Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem was not available for comment.

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