Detainee dies in prison violence

Place: Kalutara Prison | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 20000106

One of the 34 wounded Tamil detainees admitted to hospital following violence which erupted at 2 p.m. today at Kalutara Prison, about 40 km. south of Colombo has died, hospital sources said today.

Four of the wounded have been transferred to the National Hospital in Colombo while the others are being retained at Nagoda Hospital, the sources said.

Police have identified the detainee who died as Jesudasan (Ed: one name only).

Sources said Tamil detainees had been staging a hunger strike from yesterday protesting at the prison authorities decision to permanently close the door between 'F' Block and the rest of the prison and had demanded the removal of an armed Sri Lanka Army (SLA) sentry in the area.

Police sources said clashes erupted prison guards attempted to conduct a security search.

Unconfirmed reports said earlier the Tamil detainees were attacked by Sinhala prisoners and guards.

Kalutara North police who are conducting an investigation said 6 prison guards were also injured in the incident.

According to officials 700 Tamil political prisoners are held at Kalutara prison. A large number of them have been detained for several years with out any legal charges against them, the officials said.

The prisoners have staged hunger strike several times earlier appealing for charges to be filed against them or their release effected without delay.


Pararajasingham urges end to prison attacks

[TamilNet, January 07, 2000 19:09 GMT]

Tamil United Liberation Front, Paliamentary leader, Joseph Pararajasingham, has called on the President to halt recent attacks on Tamil inmates detained at Kalutara prison.

In a ltter to the President, he has sought her immediate intervention and restoration of normalcy and preventing any future attacks by bringing the perpetrators to justice.

"It is an ugly blot on the system of prison management in Sri Lanka," Pararajasingham said in the letter.

"You may recall the two mass killings of Tamil prisoners in State custody in the year 1983 at Welikada jail which is supposed to be most secure jail. Since then Kalutara prison has been following that example of deplorable uncivilized behavior by armed prison officials," he said.

He added: "What happened yesterday (06.01.2000) was followed today (07.01.2000) and has left in its bloody trail, two deaths already and nearly 35 injured and some critically and some maimed."

"It is sad to note that Your Excellency has not even issued a statement condemning the incident and expressing sympathy to the helpless victims and reassuring their safety," he said.


Kalutara wounded "being neglected" - MP

[TamilNet, January 08, 2000 12:34 GMT]

A Tamil parliamentarian who visited the detainees wounded in the violence at Kalutara prison and admitted to Nagoda hospital told TamilNet that they had not received medical care in the hospital and are being kept chained to their beds. Meanwhile reports say one more detainee has succumbed to his injuries, bringing the death toll to 3.

Mr.P.Selvarajah, MP for Batticaloa District, said the injured detainees are being held with their legs and hands cuffed are chained to beds. Two injured detainees are chained to one bed with blood stained clothes he added.

He alleged that detainees had died as they had been denied timely and adequate medical care.

The MP said detainees were injured when they were assaulted by prison guards. He denied reports of clashes between inmates and the guards.

Detainees held in Block F were assaulted on Thursday and the following day the detainees in Block G were assaulted, according to him.

He said desperate detainees threw pebbles at the guards who were assaulting them, and alleged that prison authorities were trying covering up the truth as to what had transpired.

Mr. Selvarajah said he went to the hospital along with another MP, Mavai Senathirajah, and Additional Mayor of the Jaffna Municipal Council, Ravi Raj yesterday afternoon.

However prison-guards at the hospital did not allow them to see the detainees and told them to bring a letter from the Director of the Kalutara Prison.

"We contacted the Deputy Minister of Justice, Dilan Perera, who said he will clear our visit to the hospital. However, we were not allowed to visit the detainees," Mr.Selvarajah said.

"Then we drove to Kalutara Prison where we met the Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Director of the Kalutara Prison. They did not want to give permission first. Then they agreed and sent a prison guard with us to the hospital", the MP added.

"When we saw the injured detainees at the hospital, we realised why they did not wish to allow us to visit them", he said.

Mr.Selvarajah said many of the wounded Tamils were exhausted and were passing out. "They had not been given water to drink. They were not able to move their legs," he said.

"We asked the docters to attend to them. However up to the point we left the hospital, no one had attended to them," he added.

843 prisoners are held at the Kalutara prison. About 800 of them are Tamil, mostly held on suspicion under Sri Lanka's Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

There is separate block for women detainees, but 168 men are detained at this block, according to prison officials as there are no women detainees at Kalutara.

The detainees were protesting as the prison authorities were planning to separate this block and its residents permanently from the rest of the prison.