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Protesters rally for political prisoners
Government denies claims that 900 are in custodyProtesters at the rally make their feelings known
- Sri Lanka
- September 13, 2012
Activists say there are at least 900 political detainees still in custody following the decades-long civil war that ended in 2009, although the government denies there are any.
â€śWe need to pressure the government,â€ť said Selvam Adaikalanathan, a parliamentarian from theÂ Tamil National Alliance. The support of the international community is needed, too, he said.
Protester Sinthani Chelvam said he has been searching for his son for three years.
â€śDuring the last phase of the war the army arrested my son who was wounded during the conflict but after that we didnâ€™t see him,â€ť he said.
"We appeal to the authorities to release them if they are not guilty or charge them in a court of law. Some political prisoners have been brutally attacked and some have died.â€ť
The Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, Nimal Siripala de Silva, told parliament recently that there were no political prisoners in Sri Lanka.
However, he admitted there are 359 former Tamil Tiger â€ścriminalâ€ť suspects still being detained, 309 with cases pending against them.
Three new high courts will be established to prosecute those cases, officials have said.
Tamils make up 18 percent of the nation's 20 million people. During the 25-year civil war, insurgents fought to create a separate Tamil state in the northern part of the island nation. They were finally defeated in May 2009.
Pressure mounts to free political prisoners