Colombo, Nov 29 (): Jaffna University students, mostly comprising of ethnic Tamils, over celebrations to honour defeated Tamil Tiger rebels clashed with Sri Lankan military and security forces, reports said.
The university students were marking Heroes’ Day lighting candles at small memorials, which commemorate dead Tamil Tiger fighters.
Sri Lankan military and police forces are said to have stormed into university dormitories on Tuesday, November 27 hunting for Tamil Tiger propaganda after students tried to mark “Heroes’ Week” – the last week of November when Tiger rebels used to commemorate fallen comrades.
Protesting to military intrusion in the university premises, the students came out of the campus on Wednesday, November 28 to demonstrate against the security forces, a day after the latter stormed the university campus and surrounded hostels.
A witness said that students were pelting stones; at least 20 undergraduate students were injured when security troops and police beat up those students. This is said to be the worst-ever clash since Sri Lankan security forces crushed Tamil tiger rebels in May 2009.
Security forces are also said to have entered women’s dormitories which evokes fear about their safety as Sri Lankan forces have a notorious record of assaulting and raping Tamil women.
“A vehicle of a local Tamil legislator was also damaged when he tried to stop the violent clash,” an eye-witness said. Journalists were also attacked, according to reports.
E Saravanapavan, a Tamil opposition parliamentarian and newspaper owner told the BBC that the Sri Lankan Army had attacked Jaffna University students as they tried to come out of their campus to protest against the Sri Lankan military action at their premises. Mr Saravanapavan said that the editor of his Jaffna paper was beaten by plain-clothes army men on Tuesday night while he attempted to cover the turmoil and had to be hospitalized.
However, Jaffna army commander, Mahinda Hathurusinghe, stated that the MP had been “paid to spread rumours against the military” and that the security forces had only tried to stop students pelting stones and bottles. He also commended that the Army is doing a ‘good job.’
BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo observes that these were the biggest political disturbances witnessed in the north since the bloody three-decade old war ended in 2009.
This is yet another repeat act of the Sri Lankan Army. When the Jaffna University students had observed Heroes’ Day in November 2011, the Sri Lankan Army, armed with wooden sticks and iron rods had threatened students and vandalized their vehicles in a rage.
65 Tamil prisoners in Anuradhapuram prison were also violently attacked by prison guards when the Tamil inmates were planning to commemorate fallen Tamil soldiers on Heroes’ Day in November 2011.
Mr. Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, the Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) has appealed to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to send a team of top-level UN officials to the Jaffna University to protect the students and faculty from violent Sri Lankan security forces.