By Ratna Bala –
Honourable Minister Mr. Patali Champika Ranawaka,
Media have recently reported that you have had expressed significant objection for giving common presidential pardon to release all Tamil prisoners arrested under PTA. Hence I would like to make this appeal to reconsider your decision regarding these prisoners.
We are talking about prisoners who have been detained for many years without appropriate and timely legal proceedings for crime of innocence to involving in crimes under LTTE leaders orders. These prisoners for one reason or the other get caught in this ordeal have spend important part of their lives in jail. Their family members who have not committed any crimes have also suffered enormous hardship. They possibly have wasted significant amount of time, money and other resources to get their children released might have failed miserably in their life too.
With the end of war our people are struggling to come together in every way including in emotional and spiritual senses to forget the past and/or learn lessons and move on for a collective srilankan identity with consensus and cooperation while promoting and protecting valuable diversity. This can only be done by winning hearts and minds of people with greater mutual trust. Only very courageous initiatives with trust will take us in this new path.
You have placed yourself as the epitome of this difficult but desperately essential path. After winning the war our previous president took a wrong path which fail to make any dividends of peace to ordinary people. (I do appreciate him for releasing more than 10,000 taken into custody without undue delay after rehabilitation). By joining the new government you have selected to stay in the correct path to keep the country in the democratic world.
Now we need bold measures to move forward. Strategic interest of West/US, India, China and Russia in the region make our country more vulnerable to significant foreign manipulation. We can resist their self interest doing any harm only by all srilankan people remain united and determined to protect our country. I believe in your heart you have genuine interest in protecting our country and its people. You can play a leading role to unite the country with consensus and cooperation.
Releasing these political prisoners immediately will relief them and their families many years of sufferings. This will immensely help to build trust between communities. These people will not cause any threat to the country than those outside. You can be confident that our country have enough security, knowledge and expertise to deal effectively if any minimal doubt ever looming in your mind.
I am writing this to highlight the significance and positive impact county can feel by releasing them soon. You can contribute constructively to build positive climate of compassion and hope. Any further delay in building trust and hope will seriously damage morale, motivation and momentum for reconciliation.
There is so much to gain from this act of compassion and moral recognition of their plight. All peace loving people of Srilanka belong to different groups have appealed for their release without delay. This deed would definitely build trust and hope. This could also contribute to prevent more foreign infestation and catastrophic consequences.
I am looking forward to hear your whole hearted endorsement for common presidential pardon to release these prisoners soon. I would very much appreciate if you could also encourage the government to provide enough assistance to rebuild their life.
Dr. Ratna Bala