North shuts down

Sri Lanka’s former war torn north came to a complete standstill on Friday as the public launched a protest, urging the release of political prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Law.

Shops, schools and offices were closed across the district as people gathered outside the government secretariat’s office, holding placards to free all political prisoners. Public transport also came to a complete standstill, while Tamil political parties and civil society organisations also took part in the protest. Security had also been tightened throughout the district.

Opposition Leader and Leader of the Tamil National Alliance, R Sampanthan, in a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena also urged for the release of the prisoners stating they were held without any evidence.

“The only evidence available against most of these persons are confessions extracted from them against their will under the Prevention of Terrorism Law which would be inadmissible against them in normal Court of Law,” he wrote in the letter.

Most of the political prisoners have been jailed in Sri Lanka since the end of a three decade conflict between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels which ended in May 2009.
Families have been urging for their release and have urged the United Nations to intervene.
The Sri Lankan government however has maintained that there are no political prisoners in the island country. (newsin.asia)

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