Sri Lanka promises urgent action on Tamil prisoners

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Colombo, Oct 15: The Sri Lankan government today pledged urgent action to address the concerns of Tamil political prisoners languishing in jails for several years on suspicion of links to the now-defeated LTTE as their hunger strike entered fourth day.

Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe visited the prisoners on hunger strike this morning and assured speedier action.

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The protesting prisoners, however, demanded an assurance from President Maithripala Sirisena. Over 200 Tamil inmates have been on a hunger strike since Monday. At least 8 of them had been hosptalised as a result of the hunger strike.

They demand speedy action to release them as most of them have spent time in jail without charges being filed against them.

At least 40 of them have been convicted under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). They have appealed their sentences, Tamil groups said.

The inmates said that they will not suspend their fast unto death till they get an acceptable solution. Hundreds of ethnic Tamils have been lodged in jails without trial since 2009, when Sri Lanka's military crushed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels in a decades- long conflict for control of the island's northern Jaffna peninsula.

Tamil and human rights group have called for repealing of PTA, introduced in 1979 to combat LTTE's acts of terrorism in the early stage of their separatist campaign.

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