Why Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India attempted mass suicide

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Tamil Nadu, India – Last month, at least 29 Sri Lankan Tamils at a special refugee camp within a prison in southern India tried to take their own lives in protest against their detention, Al Jazeera reported.

On August 18, 17 detainees at the Tiruchirappalli central prison in Tamil Nadu state tried to take their own lives using a number of methods.

Two days later, 12 more detainees tried the same. No one died in the two incidents.

Nearly 80 Sri Lankan Tamils have been conducting a relay protest for weeks now behind the barbed-wire fence at the prison, demanding their release and alleging false detention.

Sri Lankan Tamil refugees have been coming to India since the late 1980s following the widespread anti-Tamil pogroms in the Indian Ocean island nation.

The refugees who lacked passports and visas were lodged in one of the 100-plus camps in Tamil Nadu.

Among the refugees were former members of the LTTE, the armed group of Sri Lankan Tamils that waged a decades-long war with the government to create a Tamil-majority state.

The ex-LTTE members were kept in special camps, two of which have been closed, leaving only the overcrowded Tiruchirappalli camp for all the detained former rebels, who share the space with other Tamil refugees.

These camps are supervised by the Q Branch, an anti-terror wing of the Tamil Nadu police.

The detainees say they are living under constant threat of deportation to Sri Lanka and face an uncertain future.

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