(AHRC) Five senior students of the Deniyaya Central College in Matara District, were tortured by the Principal of the school in his office on 17 October 2017.
On 16 October, students started getting out of the school bus. At a stop near the school, one unknown student in the bus murmured the word ‘Pina’. Then several students turned their heads to search for the student who murmured the word. No one was able to identify the exact student. Finally, all the students returned to their classes and continued with their studies.
The next morning, on 17 October 2017, the Principal called four senior girls from year 11 and one boy from year 8 to the Principal’s office. When they arrived at his office, the Principal without any inquiries assaulted the five students.
The Principal hit the students on the head, neck, back and legs with his fists. He equally beat both girls and boys. Then he ordered the students to kneel down in the office. While they were kneeling many teachers and students passed through the office. AND THE
STUDENTS WERE HUMILIATED.
At no time did the Principal question the students about committing any crime or action against the code of discipline in the school. The students were in deep shock due to the fear of being beaten. The Principal asked the students if they knew his name. Then said they knew it. Later, the Principal ordered them to write a letter to him stating that they used the word ‘Pina’ to refer to him. All the victim students collectively told the Principal that they have never used that word. He did not accept their explanation. He accused them of using the word ‘Pina’ while on the school bus and that they intended that name for him, the Principal of their school.
One after the other, the students elaborated in detail what really happened on the school bus on the previous day. It was then that the Principal indicated that one teacher who was in the bus had made a complaint that a student had used that word in the bus.
Then the victims explained to the Principal that the identity of the responsible student had not been verified. Infuriated, he proceeded to assault those who were kneeling down. They began screaming. He dragged the girls by their hair and kicked them! Needless to say, the students suffered physical and mental trauma as a result of this ordeal as they were released.
According to the parents, after school was dismissed, all five of their children were admitted to the Deniyaya District Hospital for injuries suffered at the hands of the Principal after being beaten by him. Later, Doctors transferred the five students for further treatment to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital. The Consultant, a medical practitioner, diagnosed that the victims were suffering from psychological trauma and the physical results of being beaten. He further confirmed the fact that the students are still in fear of returning to school. They are afraid that the Principal will beat them again. The students were continuously treated for 6 days between the two hospitals.
Later they were transferred to ‘Child and Adolescent Mental Development Centre’ at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital for follow-up care and treatment.
The parents stated that they had lodged a complaint with the Deniyaya Police Station regarding the crime committed by the school’s Principal. They requested the Police to investigate and provide necessary protection for their children in the future. All the parents accused the Police of not investigating their complaint due to the powerful influence of the Principal. Their last resort is seeking justice through an independent investigation. They seek the safety and protection of their children. They fear there may be revenge-taking and repeated assaults by the influential Principal.
Parents called for Police and the National Child Protection Authority of Sri Lanka to take all possible legal measures to protect the rights of their victim children. These Institutions need to make sure of the well-being of the students and their education into the future.
(Excerpts from a AHRC release.)