Issue of prisoners held under PTA : President walks into Jaffna protest | Sunday Observer

Issue of prisoners held under PTA : President walks into Jaffna protest

President Maithripala Sirisena, in an unexpected turn of events, alighted from his vehicle and walked into a crowd protesting in Jaffna yesterday, demanding the release of prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

President Sirisena’s convoy was blocked by a large number of protesters in Jaffna, while the President was on his way to participate in the Tamil Language Day at the Hindu College, Jaffna.

EPRLF’s Suresh Premachandran, Northern PC member M.K. Sivajilingam, Tamil National Progressive Front (TNPF) leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and former TNPF parliamentarian Selvaraja Gajendran were also among the protesters who blocked the President’s vehicle.

At this point, the President alighted from his vehicle and walked into the crowd who were holding placards and chanting slogans.

The President calmly explained to them the government’s position on the matter and promised to take steps to look into their demands.

As his explanation eased the tension, the President went back to his vehicle and proceeded to Jaffna Hindu College to attend the Tamil Language Day.

Agriculture Minister and General Secretary of the SLFP, Duminda Dissanayake, State Minister of Education V. Radhakrishnan, Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray and Northern Province SLFP chief organiser and SLFP parliamentarian Ramanathan Angajan also attended the function. A notable absentee at the event was Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran.

Meanwhile, informed political sources said the President was due to meet Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan to discuss the issue of prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, Sampanthan confirmed he had asked for an appointment with the President to seek the latter’s intervention to ensure the release of “Tamil political prisoners.”

“The date the meeting has not been fixed as yet, but I think it will happen soon,” the Opposition Leader said, adding that it would set the platform to reach an agreement over the contentious issue.

This follows a letter Sampanthan had written to the President on the same matter, stating “unnecessary complications and tension” has arisen due to the issue of political prisoners.

“Quite apart from the pernicious nature of the Prevention of Terrorism Law, people in similar situations such as those taken into custody during the insurrections of the JVP have been granted an amnesty and released. It cannot understood why the same principle cannot be applied in regard to these prisoners,” Sampanthan’s letter said.