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A group of Tamil political prisoners removed from Sri Lanka’s capital to a prison in a Sinhala majority area have raised concerns about their security.
Twenty political prisoners from the Magazine prison have been transferred to Anuradhapura against their will, says the National Movement for the Release of Political Prisoners (NMRPP).

Prison officials have claimed that the move helps prisoners as they will be detained closer to their families. However, NMRPP maintains that the Anuradhapura prison and its surroundings are not safe for Tamil prisoners.

“Although such an opportunity exists, it has already been proven that the Anuradhapura prison and its surroundings are not safe,” Co Convener of NMRPP Rev. Marimuththu Sathivel told journalists in Colombo.

In March, two inmates of the Anuradhapura prison were shot dead when they staged a protest demanding to be released from the overcrowded prison following the hospitalisation of a detainee with Covid-19 symptoms.

Police later confirmed that prison guards opened fire to “control the protest”.

NMRPP accuses authorities of having a sinister motive in removing Tamil political prisoners against their will.

“The government views the association of Tamil political prisoners as a problem,” said Rev. Sathivel.

“The prisoners believe that they have been scattered to different places in order to destroy their political beliefs. They further believe that mixing them with other prisoners, not only destroys them politically, but also poses a threat to their lives,” he said.

While the government has a responsibility of protecting the lives, Tamil politicians “who remember political prisoners only during elections” also have a duty to stand for their rights, added Fr Sathivel.