Release Duminda and LTTE cadres – Gnanasara Thero
Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Galagodatthe Gnanasara Thero wants a whole slew of prisoners, ranging from LTTE cadres to former UPFA Member of Parliament Duminda Silva pardoned and released from state incarceration.
The monk, speaking at a press conference held on Saturday (7 December) appealed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to release prisoners who are in jail “held unjustly on political grounds.”
The leader of the soon-to-be disbanded BBS, who takes credit for the electoral victory of the President by uniting the Sinhala Buddhist vote, proposes that Rajapaksa appoint a Commission and review the sentences that have been meted out and release many of these detainees.
“There are rehabilitated LTTE cadres whom I have spoken to, who are wanting to come back to society and work for the people. They should be released,” he said.
Human Rights activists locally and internationally have called for the release of people held for decades without trial under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. They are estimated to be around 175 in number with 160 being alleged LTTE cadres. Others are activists who opposed the government in the late 1980s insurrection.
They cannot be released unless the PTA is repealed by Parliament and replaced by a proposed Counter-Terrorism Act. But all those moves came to a standstill after the Easter Sunday attacks. Many suspects in those attacks have been taken into custody using the PTA.
“Another case is that of Duminda Silva. Maybe he did something wrong, but both sides fired at each other. He should be considered for release,” the Monk suggested.
Silva, who was sentenced to death, was injured in the shootout. He was found guilty by a Special Trial-at-Bar which ruled two to one against the businessman politico. Silva’s brother is the Media Moghul Raynor Silva who owns the Hiru TV channel and Gold FM among other properties.
Gnanasara Thero is a beneficiary of a Presidential pardon himself. The chief of the right-wing Sinhala Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena, which many have called extremist, was sentenced to jail for contempt of court after he allegedly created a ruckus in the Gangodawila Magistrate’s Court, threatening State Counsel, the Magistrate as well as Sandha Eknaligoda who had sought the court’s relief in her search for her missing journalist husband Prageeth.
The Thero was pardoned and released by President Maithripala Sirisena earlier this year.