Families demand release of Sri Lankan fishermen

Fisherman - Indian protestThe families and next of kin of Sri Lankan fishermen who were sentenced to death by a Colombo Court along with five Indian fishermen on charges of drug trafficking, have held a rally in Jaffna, demanding President Mahinda Rajapksa pardon their loved ones the same way he did with the Indian fishermen.

The family members of the Sri Lankans and others staged a protest walk in Jaffna which began from opposite the Jaffna prison this morning.The five Indians were freed following protests in India and the intervention of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The Colombo High Court sentenced five Indian and three Sri Lankan fishermen to death in regard to a heroin trafficking case on October 30th. The Sri Lankan Navy arrested them in 2011 off the Delft islands and the Court found them guilty of smuggling nearly a kilogram of heroin between India and Sri Lanka.

President Rajapaksa on Wednesday pardoned and released all five Indian fishermen, but the three Sri Lankan fishermen continue to serve their sentence in the prison cells. The family members of the imprisoned Jaffna fishermen, their relatives and human rights activists held a protest march opposite the prison in the Northern Jaffna town on 20 November and pleaded with the President to release their loved ones too.

There was no reaction from the government with regard to the plight of the three Jaffna fishermen. The Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), has promised to take up the matter with the President and obtain their release.

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