Civilian Tamils held with rebels

Dec. 5, 2009 at 2:38 PM
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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Civilians ensnared by the Tamil Tigers are among thousands of Tamil prisoners still held by the Sri Lankan government, human rights activists said.

More than 11,000 Tamils were moved into prisons and so-called rehabilitation centers as the government this week freed 130,000 Tamils held in detention camps, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

The government said the Tamils are rebel fighters arrested last summer. The Red Cross, however, said some of them are Tamil civil administrators, youths forcibly conscripted to fight for the Tigers and relatives of the rebels. Others are civilians caught up in the final days of fighting and were arrested along with the rebels, who allegedly used them as human shields.

Those still held include the parents of Velupillai Prabhakaran, a Tamil Tiger leader killed this year. Prabhakaran's parents, who are in their 70s, had long been alienated from their son, The Times of London reported Saturday.

Sri Lanka's Prevention of Terrorism Act allows people to be held without being charged and without trial, human rights activists said.

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