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Jul-17-2011 13:23printcomments

44 Prisoners Join Hunger Strike at Vavuniya Prison in Sri Lanka

As world pressure Builds Over Sri Lanka Genocide, prisoners gain attention through protest.

Sri Lanka inmate
Courtesy: Gampaha Town

(SALEM, Ore.) - At least 44 Tamil prisoners in Sri Lanka are now participating in an ongoing hunger strike at the Vavuniya prison over being held long periods for suspected involvement in the LTTE Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).

Bobby Sands, age 22 [c. 1975]

It is reminiscent of Bobby Sands and the members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who fasted, in his case to death, to protest state terrorism.

The Tigers are a military group that once represented the Tamil people in their quest for equal treatment in Sri Lanka. Those who view the Tigers as a terrorist group do so as a matter of convenience.

All of the acts the Tigers ever committed that qualify as war crimes, pale when compared to the crimes Sri Lankas's Army (SLA) committed against Tamil civilians who had nothing to do with the Tigers on a military level.

Lest we forget that both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher called Nelson Mandela a terrorist as he led the drive to liberate South Africa from apartheid.

Our good friend and fellow Salem-News.com writer Ken O'Keefe has been branded a terrorist for his activism on behalf of the people of Palestine. It means nothing; nine times out of ten terrorists are western governments or those they fund. Individuals fighting for liberty and against oppression and occupation are the opposite of terrorists, and frequently as in the case of O'Keefe and Mandela, they are heroes.

    Nelson Mandela                        Ken O'Keefe

The undeniable truth is that the U.S. and the U.K. have a long, rich and well documented history of destabilizing third world governments through specific and direct acts of "terrorism" (by any definition).

Perhaps the only government at this time waging this heavy scale of government terrorism on people, within its own borders, is Israel, and even the Israeli takes much longer to kill the number of Palestinians than the Sri Lanka govt. takes to kill Tamils.

Having said that, the Tamil people did have high regard for the Tigers; those who protected them from a hostile Sinhalese government with long seated rivalries and a clear goal of seeing Sri Lanka exist as a Sinhalese Buddhist nation, not one that supports religious and cultural freedom. I don't believe the Tamils can be blamed for this in any possible way.

What happened is clear, and when we watch interviews with Sri Lanka Army spokesman, Major General Ubaya Medawala, he is clearly being fed his answers to questions through an ear piece. He doesn't even fake it well.

I draw our attention to Sri Lanka's insistence that thousands and thousands of photos and hours of video showing the Genocide take place are 'fake' despite the fact that inspectors from the United Nations verified that the tapes brought forth by Channel 4 in London showing the Sri Lanka Army at work, raping, executing, defacing, laughing... are indeed real.

That means that SLA charges of Tamil Tigers using civilians as human shields, is likely void of credibility. The mere charge that a terrified, retreating population's military defenders would use human beings not trained in the military as shields, is hard to believe on the best day; traditionally it is a pat excuse offered after a military group slaughters non-combatants.

There were no journalists present when the SLA moved for the final confrontation in 2009, those who were open to the real plight of the Tamils were either killed or simply disappeared, never to be seen again. When people question why these prisoners are striking by potentially sacrificing their own bodies to draw attention to the political inequity, there should be few questions as to 'why?' The current hunger strike was first launched by a group of four Tamil inmates last Monday. Now another 40 Tamil prisoners have joined the ongoing hunger strike. They are demanding the authorities to immediately release them or charge them in a court of law.

Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian P. Ariyanendran, told a reporter with Gampaha Town, that he had been contacted by the group prisoners, who expressed to him that they have been held in prison for a long period without any investigations.

The prisoners say they were arrested under the Terrorism Prevention Act. It seems such a law should have prevented a Genocide from occurring, but it did not. Apparently the SLA is not responsible for following the laws it is enforcing against the Tamils.

The protesting inmates demand that investigations be conducted soon and necessary action be taken or that they be released immediately, TNA MP Ariyanendran stated while adding that the inmates claim to have informed relevant authorities in this regard, however their pleads had fallen on deaf ears.

The five prisoners threaten that they will continue with the fast until their demands are met, he pointed out. “I intend to bring this issue to the President’s attention.”

Other Developments

The pro-Sinhalese Sunday Observer, reports that 552 "former LTTE cadres", have undergone 'rehabilitation' and were reintegrated into the society on 3 July 2011. The terminology is reminiscent of what the Khmer Rouge did to the people of Cambodia in the 1970's, 'reeducating' human beings in that case, with the end of a rifle butt. It is only fitting that Rajapaksa regime of Sri Lanka be viewed in a light with Pol Pot who was behind the execution of millions of Cambodians during their terrible Genocide.

Sri Lanka's Sinhalese government sill has 2,950 "youths"- as the Sunday Observer calls these mostly male Tamils, in custody. They expect they will also be, "successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into civil society" before the end of this year, according to the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation.

Now here is where it gets interesting. It is true that to some degree, the Tamil Tigers had children in military service. This likely would account for the youth in rehabilitative custody, one might assume, but the paper reports that, "the majority of the 552 youth being re-integrated into society were between the ages of 20 and 35". Once again, the terminology seems to mislead and misdirect the reader. People become adults at the age of 18 or 21, depending on the circumstances.

I think it is sad that people of a rich culture like the Tamils who simply wanted the state of Tamil Eelam which would have existed within Sri Lanka, and would have allowed its own language and culture to be part of its own society, have been relegated to an environment of cultural rehabilitation, and what else could it honestly be called?

Sources:

More Tamil prisoners in Sri Lanka join the ongoing hunger strike at Vavuniya prison -Colombo Page - Sri Lanka Newspaper

5 inmates begin protest fast in Vavuniya Prison - Gampaha Town

More ex-LTTE cadres released - Sunday Observer

Some of our past reports on the Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka;

_________________________________________________________
Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 82 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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