Breaking News- Prison Riot In Colombo’s Welikada Prison Indicates Inefficiency In The Prison System.
Posted on November 10th, 2012

In Retrospect By Sarath Kumara

November 10th 2012

Under any circumstance, the Nation of Sri Lanka can ill afford the bad publicity of internal conflict whether it be through terrorist insurgency, undersorld criminal gangs, thuggery with lnks to officialdome, Police and armed forces brutality as most importantly it will tarnish the national image restored after the failed Tamil Tiger insurrection and the latest prison riot at Colombo’s Welikada prison with its notoriety for underworld infiltration, alleged corrupt prison officials as well as deplorable conditions for the inmates attest to something wrong in the Prison system. It is an area of concern for the officials who administer the System, needing immediate investigation and redress.

 At least 13 people have been reported killed in clashes between prison guards and violent inmates at Sri Lanka’s Welikada prison in the capital Colombo, where hospital officials suggest that the death toll could mount.

It was a routine check by prison guards and Police commandos when the violence erupted as they attempted to do a routine search at the prison.

At the time of this report, there is said to be ongoing gunfire where some inmates have seized weapons purported to have been wrested from the armed officials, the army has been called in and the area surrounding the prison has been sealed off including all approach roads in the vicinity as a massive operation goes on.

Welikada prison inasmuch as the rest of the jails around the country seem to be blemishes in a land known for its replendency and ambience as a tourist attraction as all of them, this one in particularly are badly overcrowded where many prisoners await execution with the recently activated death penalty and the conditions under which the prisoners are held, said to be relative to who is imprisoned and mostly deplorable for the hapless and better for certain privileged criminals.

Perhaps consequently, prison violence in Sri Lanka is not uncommon as there have been prisoner uprisings previously during the nation’s ethnic strife but in every case the authority of the law has prevailed and the uprisings have been put down. Regardless of this there seems to be much wanting in securing the Prison system in the country to a degree of acceptability by the requisite norms where such incidents need to be prevented if Sri Lankan is to continue being deemed a safe place to visit, as tourism on which the nation depends substantially is a large income earner which could be compromised. Furthermore the Government can ill afford a tarnishing of its reputation as being incompetent to administer its prison system which seems to be indicative by uprisings such as these despite it being no mean task anywhere in the world to administer to prisons filled with hardened criminals aometimes with links to the underworld .

While in the past there have also been alleged racially motivated killings in prisons during the Tamil Tiger insurgency which was put down by the Armed Forces, a degree of infamy was linked in July 1983 when 53 Tamil prisoners were gunned down by the authorities and a general hue and cry with much finger pointing at those responsible took on an ugly air of authoritative discrimination which was never proven as attributable to deliberate mendacity by the authorities where the culpability towards the violence rested on the prisoners. In this incident there appear to be no racially motivated links.

The National Hospital in Colombo where the injured were admitted has said that about 13 people thus far and at least 11 of them prison inmates, had been killed in the uprising.There had apparently been an attempted jailbreak where several inmates appeared to have been shot while attempting to getaway on a tri-shaw.

Later on a further 32 injured people are said to have been brought into the hospital, with six in a critical condition.There is breaking news that about 30 people including a senior police officer in all were injured, and that inmates are reported to be holding prison staff hostage. They were later seen waving rifles from the roof of a prison building although it has now been reported that the situation was under control.

The clashes according to eyewitnesses had erupted when police commandos entered the jail, taking prisoners out of their cells and handcuffing them.These were prisoners awaiting execution.

There are more reports which say that the police may have been searching for drugs and smuggled mobile phones which the prison has a notoriety for.

It was at this point that the inmates had seized weapons from the prison’s weapon store during the confrontation according to the reports.

It is not clear exactly how many more people may have died inside the jail according to reports from the BBC and the Associated Press from whose news bulletins this has been compiled.

Based on all the information and the related circumstances, this is an incident which could probably have been prevented or at least the degree of its intensity as the lax and negligence of some who were carrying out the search operation seems to have permitted their being caught offguard where the necessary preventive actions and means seems to have come when the worst of it was over.

This surely reflects the inefficiencies of the system where there seems to be little room for the repitition of incidents of this nature for which there could be a greater price to pay if it ever recurred! Lessons must be learned!


17 Responses to “Breaking News- Prison Riot In Colombo’s Welikada Prison Indicates Inefficiency In The Prison System.”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    This whole episode revolves around Bribery and Corruption. Corruption of PRISON GUARDS AND OFFICIALS. There is no way that Drugs and Cell Phones can get into the hands of the Prisioners, unless through the Prision Administration.
    Suggested Remedy:-

    Any Prision Employee caught smuggling anything illegal to the Prisioners, should face the Law, and be put into the same prision to relent. From there, they should be sent home for good.

    Prision Employees remuneration and benefits should be on par with members of the Police Service, if it is not so now.

    The Armoury should be located out of the Prision, and should definitely not within, with easy access to the Prisioners.

    There should be a permanent STF unit located at the Entrance, possibly near the Armoury.

  2. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    Sadly, as predicted here, the death toll has mounted to 27 according to Hospital sources.
    It is indeed an apathetic reflection on the Prisons Department and its administrators if prisons cannot be run efficiently where lawbreakers and criminals seem to perpetrate their activities even through their incarcerations for which they were imprisoned in the first place. Is this some kind of joke?
    Heads should surely roll!

  3. Dham Says:

    Ponseka had all the comforts in Welikada prison. Despite the oportunity earned with youg lives scarifices, we have not moved 1 inch in “law and order” since getting rid of the pests.

    Kudu business in prsons in common in America too. There is nothing to be ashamed of that, but prison authorities and the governing system cannot succumb to Kudu business. That happened because the misisters too doing or did this business and nothing happened to them.
    Work should start from “Silvas”. Public behaviour like Tamil Nadu should not be allowed in our culture.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    What I’m worried about is out of 82 AK-47s stolen, only 76 have been recovered. Others have been passed out of the prison through escapees.

    This is a very worrying development.


    Adaderana fotos show a prisoner on a roof top waving an AK-47!!!!!

    This is damn SHAMEFUL for the ministry of defence. No point shooting the messenger or covering it up. Accept it and fix it before it happens again.

    Unfortunately Tamil terrorists in prison have survived to fight another day.

  5. gdesilva Says:

    Just waiting for a call from the Western media for a regime change to address these terrible events :-). Perhaps we may hear words of wisdom from the US State Dept calling for restraint from the SL Govt! Now which country is the first to issue a motherhood statement is the question….

  6. Cerberus Says:

    However much wrong a person has done, when such a person is locked up for indefinite period, even an animal, who was born free and wants to live free, a frustration builds up as they are unable to help themselves, and this creates anger towards their captors. They will try to find relief from anything, including Kudu. Their minds are in great anger and turmoil, and can turn to violence easily.

    In USA, a number of prisons have used the Peace Education Program initiated by Prem Rawat to bring relief, understanding and peace to prisoners, even hard core ones. Please review the two videos on this link and see the transformation that was done by the Peace Education program in those prisons. It is hard to believe that it has worked but it does so amazingly.

    In some of the large Indian prisons, including the largest, Sri Goenka conducted Vipassana Meditation with the prisoners together with their guards and the results were similar. They were all transformed. There is a video available which shows the hard core prisoners embracing their guards. One particular prisoner who was jailed for life for killing a man was so overcome with remorse after the Meditation, that he contacted the wife of the man he had murdered and the mother, and begged forgiveness for what he had done in anger.

    Meditation and turning within is the only solution to bring solace and salvation to human mind and heart.

  7. nandimitra Says:

    Life is precious even of a criminal. This unfortunate incidence is a reflection of the governance in the country. Thoroughly inefficient, politicised, administered by incompetent officers and to cap it all a government that believes in the military than in justice. The responsibility falls squarely on the President. unfortunately he does not respond in words or in deeds. This destabilisation will continue until anarchy take’s over.

  8. Dilrook Says:

    Welikada prison has a very bad history of violence. This is not acceptable. Prisoners must be treated humanely and at the same time should be kept under control. It all started with a drug investigation. Ridding all prisons of drugs is a necessity.

  9. ranjit Says:

    They are in that prison because they are truly bad guys.No one should sympathize with criminals. They are worst than animals and should be treated as same. If you murder someone or use drugs or sell drugs to the innocents how can you describe anyone as good guys? Good that they introduce death penalty again. Their place should be in hell. For people like murderers,terrorists and drug sellers, child abusers etc. should be kept behind bars for good. You see in the world how many prisoners like terrorists,murderers who have been given pardon have done the same thing again only few will learn a lesson and become good guys very few. So do not pity these guys.

    Also I suggest that the Welikada prison must be shifted to some other place to avoid major such incidents near public places in the city. It should be taken to a remote area with strict security. Prison staff must be screened. So many corrupt officers are there who help the prisoners to do bad things for money. The Minister must resign because it was the second such attack in few months. Criminals should be tamed with iron fist. I hope Defence secretary will take over the prison department and clean up the whole place for decent people to live without any hassel. We dont need violence anymore.We suffered enough seeing massacres and blood for many years now. I hope this current President will get rid of corruption from top to bottom in the Government and in the private and allow us for a civilized living in our blessed land. He has another five years to clean up the mess and I pray he will be with the majority and cleanse the whole set up for all to live in peace which we all need for the sake of our next generation.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    In Sri Lanka, do not ever allow the PRIVATIZATION of prisons. To run prisons for PROFIT is a great mistake.

    It is a difficult task to bring understanding and self respect to hard core prisoners – they are far gone into negative states of mind, and have no sense of self worth. I agree with Ceberus that Meditation should be tried as a remedial measure. It has been tried elsewhere and succeeded.

  11. douglas Says:

    Did you see the picture of the “prisoners” on the roof top of the Prison? From the clothes they are clad in , can anyone belive they are the inmates of a Prison?. To me, they are “Thugs” type of the underworld who are allowed to be clothed in civilian clothes. At times, I think they also can be the “BILLY BOYS” who have been brought into to by the “Authorities”(Political or otherwise) to represent the Underworld Gang members who are roaming around the country with immunity and freedom.

    Mind you in Sri Lanka anything and everything is POSSIBLE

  12. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    DOUGLAS !!!! Possibly Government has no money to provide them with prision uniforms.

    They should get FULL YELLOW uniforms, so that if they escape, it is possible to identify them.

  13. Ananda-USA Says:

    TOO BAD that the GOSL allowed this MURDERER to LIVE for SO LONG in a Foreign Country without EXTRADITING him to Sri Lanka to serve his PENANCE!

    Parithy, one of Sri Maha Bodhi attackers

    by Manjula FERNANDO
    November 11, 2012

    The LTTE leader, Parithy, killed in France on Friday was a member of the terrorist group that carried out the Sri Maha Bodhi attack where 146 Buddhist devotees and bhikkhus were massacred on May 14, 1985, Head of International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Prof. Rohan Gunaratna said.

    According to intelligence sources, Parithy a supporter of the LTTE Nediyawan faction had been killed by the Vinayagam faction which is now aligned with US based lawyer Rudrakumaran of the TETG.

    “Vinayagam wants to capture power from Nediyawan who controls all TCCs, Tamil youth organisations and other LTTE fronts,” he said adding that splits and infighting became pronounced after Velupillai Prabhakaran’s death.

    Parithy, whose real name is Nadarajh Matheenthiran and known by the alias Reagan in Sri Lanka was appointed Head of LTTE in France in 2003 by Nediyawan who lives in Norway.

    “Operating under the cover of the Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC), France he had engaged in crime including extortion and also had connections with the Global Tamil Forum under Rev. Fr. S.J. Emmanuel.

    Prof. Gunaratna said, ‘Parithy had received terrorist training in Himachal Pradesh, India in 1984. He had participated in several terrorist attacks within Sri Lanka before fleeing to South India in 1990 after being injured by the IPKF’.

  14. Ananda-USA Says:

    Well, Sri Lanka is bringing back the Death Penalty after 34 years … That could have taken care of at least 11 of the death row inmates who were killed in the riot, but it will clear the death row for sure.

    Did the looming reactivation of the Death Penalty fuel the urgency among the death-row prisoners to escape from prison and head for the hills before they could be executed? Don’t blame them; preservation of life is a paramount consideration when you are a humanitarian, born-again in prison!

    BTW, Californians voted to keep the death penalty in the recent Nov 6, 2012 State election …. too many innocents are dying in the streets struck by random bullets, I suppose!! Californians also voted to modify the “Three Strikes and You Are Out” law that mandated life-in-prison-terms for repeat offenders to apply only to those who committed serious crimes, instead of all crimes including minor ones.

  15. Marco Says:

    TOO BAD that the GOSL allowed this MURDERER to LIVE for SO LONG in a Foreign Country without EXTRADITING him to Sri Lanka to serve his PENANCE!

    Hmm… like KP you mean?

  16. Lorenzo Says:

    “Sri Lanka is bringing back the Death Penalty after 34 years.”


    Hang ALL the terrorists FIRST.
    Separatists NEXT.
    Wahabis NEXT.
    Drug dealers NEXT.
    Other criminals THEREAFTER.

    If one death row inmate eats 3 times a day, if a one time meal costs 100/=.
    Tea and coffee (2 coffee breaks) 50/=.
    Annual cost of food is 127,750/=
    If they go to jail in their 30.
    Life expectancy of prisoners is VERY HIGH as they NEVER die of accidents, disease, heart attacks, etc.
    They will live to 80.
    Food cost for 50 years WITHOUT INFLATION is 6,387,500.

    Cost of 10 inmates WITHOUT INFLATION is 63,875,000.


    SAVE THIS MONEY and give it to poor people.

  17. Fran Diaz Says:

    The whole world seems to be in a period of Transition and Transformation, away from war and strife. There is Hope for betterment. Let us keep at it – everyone wants to live, and be healthy and happy. Common goals, common aspirations, common ground binds us all.

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