Political prisoners to Cabinet

A cabinet paper is to be submitted to resolve the issue over Tamil political prisoners arrested under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

Minister of National Integration, Official Languages, Social Progress, and Hindu Religious Affairs Mano Ganesan told that the cabinet paper will seek to rehabilitate the Tamil political prisoners and release them.

He said the cabinet paper is now being drafted and will be presented for approval over the next couple of weeks.

“I will propose to either release the Tamil political prisoners or rehabilitate them for a period of six months and release them,” he said.

Ganesan said the Cabinet will be able to discuss and decide the best way forward after the cabinet paper was submitted.

The Minister noted that the Tamil political prisoner issue needs to be addressed urgently as it is a very sensitive one. He said that recently, a Tamil political prisoner had died after spending 15 years in prison.

Since 2015, the Government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) have been engaged in talks on releasing the political prisoners, but the issue has not been completely resolved.

Moves to seek a presidential pardon for the prisoners jailed over minor offences after being arrested under the PTA also saw little progress.

While a few prisoners had been released after being presented to court, most are still behind bars.

Over the past few years, Tamil political prisoners staged hunger strikes demanding that their cases be expedited and that they either be charged for a crime or be released.

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