Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Sri Lankan Minister who is responsible for prison mismanagement given another title

Sudarshani Fernandopulle
Sri Lanka Minister of Prison Reforms and Prisoners' Rehabilitation Sudarshani Fernandopulle who is responsible for prison mismanagement in Sri Lanka was given a new title immediately after at least eight prisoners were killed in an incident in Mahara Prison of Sri Lanka. 

Accordingly, Fernandopulle was sworn in as State Minister of Primary Health Services, Pandemics and COVID Prevention on 30th November 2020 before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. 

Sri Lanka's prisons are around three-fold overcrowded and the remanded prisoners in many prisons agitate demanding bail, PCR tests and quarantine. The COVID-19 cluster in prisons have exceeded 1,000 now but the number of PCR tests is still low. 

The basic demand of the prisoners in Mahara prison was conducting PCR tests. The prison authorities say that prisoners rioted, attempted to escape, set ablaze the record room and other buildings, took two officials hostage and the prison officers shot at the prisoners to control them. 

Eight prisoners were killed and more than 60 prisoners were hospitalized, prison sources say. Deputy Director of Ragama Hospital Dr. Sarath Premasiri said that the condition of 10 of the prisoners was critical. Many of the patients are COVID-19 positive. The agitation started with the demand of the prisoners to conduct PCR tests and quarantine them. 

A large number of naked prisoners were seen transported in hired buses out of the prison yesterday. The prisoners said to the relatives who had gathered near the prison that they had been transported somewhere for quarantine. 

Wives, mothers, children, siblings and other relatives of the prisoners were seen weeping near the prison and Ragama hospital pleading police and other officials to inform them of the plight of their loved ones. Some women were shown on television channels begging the authorities to stop shooting the prisoners. 

In one scene, a video showed the shock of a young mother carrying a baby when she heard police announced the death of her husband. 

Sudarshani Fernandopulle was a Consultant Community Physician before she entered into politics after Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam killed her husband Jeyaraj Fernandopulle in 2008. 

She was seen breaking the chair of Speaker in the parliament during the parliament riots on  November 16, 2020.


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