Tamil minority groups in Sri Lanka have met President Maithripala Sirisena demanding general amnesty to over 11,000 political prisoners held under the tough prevention of terrorism law since the end to the armed conflict with the LTTE in May 2009.
A group led by Northern Provincial Council member M K Shivajilingam met President Sirisena yesterday following a demonstration in Jaffna, in the erstwhile LTTE bastion.
On October 13, the protesters gathered opposite to the Governor's Secretariat holding placards which read, 'Remove the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act' (PTA), 'Release all political prisoners without any condition'.
A strike was observed in several parts in the North to back the demand for the release of political prisoners.
Shivajilingam said that Sirisena had assured that he would discuss the issue with Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya and Justice Minister Thalatha Atukorale, who are both currently overseas.
Sirisena told them that his position would not be weakened by the protest and he was ready to discuss it with them.
"We want the government to grant them a general amnesty. Over 11,000 former LTTE members were rehabilitated by the former government. They have not indulged in any violent activity since then. Likewise these people also could be granted amnesty," Shivajilingam said.
Sri Lanka has come under increasing international pressure to repeal the PTA enacted in 1979 after Tamils started a bloody campaign for a separate homeland. The three- decades-old campaign ended with the military victory over the LTTE in 2009.
The PTA has been criticised by Tamil and rights activists as it allows indefinite detention of people without charges.
During the armed campaign by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), many activists of the rebel outfit were held under the PTA.
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