By Shamindra Ferdinando
In the run-up to the imminent release of a controversial UN report on alleged ‘war crimes’ committed during Eelam War IV, particularly in the final phase of ground battles on the Vanni front, a section of Sri Lanka’s undergraduates belonging to the JVP is seeking UN intervention to restore democracy in the country. They say that the conclusion of the war in May 2009 hadn’t brought about the anticipated change in the country.
The Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF), powerful student body affiliated to the JVP, on Friday (Apr.1) handed over a petition requesting UN backing to take on the “dictatorial’’ Rajapaksa administration which they allege is targeting university students.
As part of a “sordid’’ UPFA strategy aimed at silencing democratic opposition, the IUSF alleged the government had targeted student organizations. Prohibition of student organizations at universities, the IUSF asserted was a key part of the government plan.
Interestingly, the IUSF likened the government’s action to that of the then JRJ’s ban on student activity in universities in 1983. It said that the incumbent administration was on JRJ’s track, placing student unions, trade unions and political parties at risk.
In a letter addressed to UNSG Ban Ki-moon, IUSF’s convener Sanjeeva Bandara alleged that their group had been targeted by successive governments due to their decisive intervention in student as well as national issues. The present regime, the IUSF alleged, had mercilessly targeted any organization and individual considered hostile to the incumbent administration.
The IUSF alleged the opposition and the media had been persistently attacked, while the Attorney General’s Department and the police at the behest of the government interfered in judicial process at the expense of good governance.
In spite of conclusion of war, civil administration hadn’t been restored in Northern and Eastern Provinces, where Tamil speaking people suffer in silence.
Accusing Higher Education Minister S.B.Dissanayake of setting up goons on the student community, the IUSF said that at the behest of the minister over 300 undergraduates had been expelled, while about 40 put behind bars.
Acting on the orders of Minister Dissanayake, Vice Chancellors had denied university teachers their right to elect heads of various faculties, the IUSF alleged.
The government had unleashed violence targeting the student community at the Sabaragamuwa University, where the IUSF was under heavy pressure with Minister Dissanayake personally leading a campaign, the IUSF alleged and called for UN intervention before it was too late