Jaffna Bishop hails release of Tamil prisoners | Page 2 | Sunday Observer
“Minister Namal Rajapaksa’s concern praiseworthy”

Jaffna Bishop hails release of Tamil prisoners

27 June, 2021

Elites of Jaffna society including the Catholic Bishop of Jaffna, the Rt. Rev. Justin Gnanapragasam, President of the People’s Council for Peace and Goodwill, Prof. P. Balasundarampillai along with the families of the prisoners have hailed the release of sixteen Tamil prisoners and the sensible speech by Minister Namal Rajapaksa in Parliament emphasising the need to release Tamil prisoners and get rid of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The Catholic Bishop of Jaffna, the Rt. Rev. Justin Gnanapragasam told the Sunday Observer that he appreciated the move by the Government to release sixteen Tamil prisoners. “The Government should focus on releasing the other Tamil political prisoners as well. Altogether there are 81 Tamil political prisoners. Of the 81, sixteen have now been released. The release of the prisoners and Minister Namal Rajapaksa’s concern over releasing political prisoners are praiseworthy and we believe Minister Namal’s speech in Parliament and the release of the political prisoners will go a long way to strengthen reconciliation between the North and the South,” Bishop Justin Gnanapragasam said.

The Bishop said that he had told President Gotabaya Rajapakse when he met him a year ago, the importance of releasing Tamil political prisoners and focusing on the grievances of the families of missing persons. According to Bishop Gnanapragasam, Minister Namal Rajapaksa was also briefed by him when he met him in Jaffna before the pandemic.

Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna and President of the People’s Council for Peace and Reconciliation, Prof. P. Balasundarampillai said that his Council was overjoyed by the release of the sixteen prisoners and this effort will definitely bring about a positive outlook towards the peace-building process between the North and the South.

“This kind of effort should have been mooted long ago. However, we consider it as a good effort towards erasing the misunderstandings between the North and the South,” the Professor said.

The families of the prisoners, while welcoming the concern expressed by Minister Namal Rajapaksa towards releasing Tamil political prisoners, hailed President Gotabaya Rajapakse for releasing the prisoners.

They also called upon the Government to expedite the process to release the rest of the political prisoners as well without further postponement.

“As terrorism ended long ago there is no need to detain Tamil political prisoners without any legal action. Considering the future of the prisoners who had already spent several years in detention, their release must be expedited in the best interest of steadying the reconciliation process,” the families of the Tamil political prisoners noted in a statement they released on Friday.