Relatives protest demanding release of LTTE suspects


Executive Committee member of the Movement for Equaliy Rights Sanjeewa Bandara adressing the media opposite the police barricades. Pic by Saman Abesiriwardena

Relatives and civil rights activists gathered in Colombo yesterday, demanding that the government release hundreds of LTTE suspects detained without charges for years.

Family members of the detainees staged a protest opposite the Fort Railway Station, calling upon the government to release immediately their relatives detained under anti-terrorism laws. Demonstrators displayed placards that read "Free all political prisoners."

Executive Committee member of the Movement for Equal Rights, an organisation coming under the Frontline Socialist Party, Sanjeewa Bandara said that there were around 300 Tamils being held, "but they are not responsible for the war, they are, in fact, the victims of the war."

Bandara is a former convener of the Inter University Students’ Federation.

Former TNA MP Gajendra Ponnambalam said that the detainees were being kept in custody in a "fundamentally flawed and unjust manner" and, therefore, they should be released forthwith unconditionally.

Noorthamma Emmanuel said her husband Sebamalai Emmanuel, had been taken into custody in February 2009, just three months before the

end of the conflict and was still being detained without charges.

She said they had three daughters and her husband had been the sole breadwinner. "I request the government to release my husband immediately as his arrest has dealt a severe blow to our family."

The protesters after staging a satyagraha marched from the Fort Railway Station to the Presidential Secretariat. They were proceeding towards the Presidential Secretariat when they were stopped by the police near the Lake House roundabout. Some of their representatives were however allowed to proceed to the Presidential Secretariat, where they met Additional Presidential Secretary S. B. Kodikara. The agitators handed over a petition to the official. Protesters dispersed thereafter.

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