A Tamil political prisoner was attacked by a former Sri Lankan army officer in Welikada prison, in what has been described as shocking “act of vengeance” by a Tamil lawmaker.
“Upon hearing of the assault, I went to prison to personally see to the welfare of the political prisoners and inquire about the assault,” Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi (ITAK) MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam told the Tamil Guardian.
“I was informed that during an unannounced raid, a former army officer who had barged into the prison assaulted Parthiban,” Rasamanickam said.
“At the time of the assault, the officer lamented how soldiers had died in the war to which he had been a witness. This an act of vengeance which should not have happened. Parthiban has already served 28 years in prison and the least the government can do is ensure they are not dealt with in this manner.”
The Tamil prisoner assaulted in the attack, Parthiban, was detained over his reported involvement in the Colombo Central Bank bombing in 1996.
Highlighting the recent attack on Parthiban, Rasamanickam expressed concern over the safety of political prisoners and urged the government and international community to ensure that political prisoners are treated with dignity and respect.
The MP went on to tell the Tamil Guardian that Sri Lanka’s Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa has requested a report on the incident and had assured that he would follow up on it.
“The political prisoners also had a few other requests, in fact, these are not new requests but conveniences that had been taken away from them,” the MP continued. “They requested that all 8 of them be kept in the same prison, their meeting time be adjusted to the time it was before and that to be transported separately. The Minister agreed to these requests and mentioned that he’d see to them.”
Rasamanickam also added that they would work towards the release of at least two of the prisoners who had been serving their sentences. Last year in April, three political prisoners were released by courts after witness statements to the case could not prove the involvement of the prisoners as having conspired against the state.
Over 200 Tamil political prisoners are said to be incarcerated in different prisons and detention centres in Sri Lanka, according to Counter-Currents. Advocacy group Voice of the Voiceless, which has been campaigning for the release of Tamil political prisoners, estimates that there are at least 46 Tamil political prisoners who have been imprisoned for 10 to 26 years. Despite facing trauma and abuse, the resilience of Tamil political prisoners has been apparent. Sivalingam Arooran, who was arrested in 2009, wrote eight novels during his 16 years of incarceration. His novel Adurasalei was later given the State Literary Award. In May 2023, Arooran was acquitted of all charges and released by the courts.