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NewsArmy barges into Noolaham Foundation meeting in Jaffna

Army barges into Noolaham Foundation meeting in Jaffna

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We were allowed to proceed after a Tamil speaking person from the army in civil attire was allowed to sit among us and under the condition that copies of the presentations should be given to him. Soldiers were moving around the hall peeping in on the meeting. As we left, our names, identity card numbers and addresses and telephone numbers were recorded.


29 May 2011/ Press Release
Project Noolaham has been ongoing since the year 2005 and is run by respectable and responsible Tamil intellectuals. The main purpose of the Noolaham Foundation, a registered charity, is to collect rare books and manuscripts from across the globe, and digitize and make them freely available to all researchers.

In the past year, we added more than 3000 documents to our e-library. We operate on a meager annual budget of about Rs. 1.65 million collected from contributions, working with mainly volunteers consisting of young persons who initially conceived the idea.

This evening we met in Jaffna, as we regularly do on the last Sunday of the month. The highlight today was on preserving sites of ancient cultural heritage through videos and photographs.

As we started, the army arrived and a person identifying himself as Colonel Jayawardene brusquely entered our hall rudely shouting, “Who is in charge?” When the person in charge, an emeritus professor, identified himself, the colonel shouted at him for all to hear: “No LTTE commemorations. Ministry of Defence orders. Do you understand?”

We were allowed to proceed after a Tamil speaking person from the army in civil attire was allowed to sit among us and under the condition that copies of the presentations should be given to him. Soldiers were moving around the hall peeping in on the meeting. As we left, our names, identity card numbers and addresses and telephone numbers were recorded.

Our day was spoilt. The meeting was ruined because we were so worried by the military presence that we could not focus on the speakers. We could not freely express ideas since the military presence and weapons were intimidating. The public will keep off from our functions now and those who rent us halls will be fearful of doing so.

Unfortunately, this is a regular occurrence in Jaffna. Just 2 days ago, an official event at St. Charles’ School was interrupted by the army barging in on a false tip-off.

For peace and prosperity and indeed normality in Jaffna, endeavours like Noolaham’s are of essence. But the gains made by the government are being squandered by the army without any discernment, treating all of us who are Tamil like suspects.

The government, after winning the war, is losing the peace. We must point out the irony of our government working with former hardcore LTTE personnel and using some of them as informants while branding respectable Tamil civilians as LTTE.

I appeal to His Excellency the President to please review how civilians are treated in Jaffna by the military.

S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, D.Sc. (Eng.)
Member, Advisory Committee
The Noolaham Foundation
TC

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