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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Tamil journalists blocked from attending Rajapaksa’s meetings in Jaffna

The wards of the Chaavakachcheari hospital, renovated with help from Red Cross societies from Finland and Ireland at different stages and that were already declared open, were declared once again opened by SL president Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday. The ‘hijack’ move projected as a part of ‘grand opening’ under Rajapaksa’s Vadakkin Vasantham (the spring of the North), was exposed by the local journalists,
who discovered that the initial inaugural plaques with the names of foreign donors were hastily removed Sunday night and new plaques were installed. As the local journalists in Jaffna began questioning the episode, the SL establishment blocked the journalists from covering the visit of Mr. Rajapaksa to Jaffna Secretariat where he was scheduled to discuss his ‘development’ of North.

Rajapaksa with his minister Douglas Devananda and military governor of North Maj. Gen. (retd.) G.A. Chandrasiri at the opening ceremony of swimming pool at Jaffna Central College

Rajapaksa and his son came to the opening ceremony of the swimming pool with a team of swimmers from South

Kokku’laay school in Mullaiththeevu district

Many of the schools in Vanni function without basic facilities and lack of teachers

The renovated hospital at Chaavakachcheari

A section of Tamil female workers in the administrative sector instructed by their employer to wear blue sarees and hold Sri Lankan lion flag at the district secretariat in Jaffna
During his visit, Mr. Rajapaksa and his son Namal Rajapaksa also declared open a swimming pool at Jaffna Central College. The swimming pool project, initially launched by the ‘Blue Brigade’ of Namal Rajapaksa five years ago, was completed at last by diverting the funds allocated to reconstruct the schools in Vanni this year, civil sources in Jaffna complained.

At the hospital re-opening, Mr. Rajapaksa condemned media for functioning as they did during the times of the war. He said journalists were creating ‘ethnic divisions’.

Sri Lanka Army shelling and SLAF bombardment destroyed Chavakachcheari hospital in year 2000. After 11 years, basic facilities and various sections of the hospital have been reconstructed with the help of foreign donors. Japan had also shown interest in reconstructing the hospital, but the authorities in Colombo had dropped the move.

The completion of the much publicized swimming pool project at the Jaffna Central College had been struck by corruption and was dragged on for five years by Namal Rajapaksa who didn’t manage to complete it. The project was completed after diverting five million rupees of funds allocated to reconstruct the schools in Vanni by the Northern provincial ministry of education. The schools in Vanni are languishing without proper shelter and teachers.

During his address at the opening ceremony of the swimming pool at Jaffna Central College, Mr. Rajapaksa warned Tamil students not to get distracted by the elusive forces [from South] that seek to divert their attention from studies [to anti-government activities]. He insisted that Tamil students should learn Sinhala language in addition to English and said all in the island should learn the three languages.

Mr. Rajapaksa attempted to address the students briefly in Tamil. When the SL president was making a lot of pronunciation errors, the students started shouting.

As part of its ongoing structural genocide being committed on Eezham Tamils, the Sri Lankan government under Rajapaksa aims to complete the Sinhalicisation of the Tamil country before year 2020.

The reporters of a leading Tamil daily were blocked from covering the swimming pool opening.

Later, Mr. Rajapaksa attended a meeting at Jaffna district secretariat. Tamil journalists, except the EPDP operated media men belonging to Dan TV, Thinamuarsu and EPDP website, were blocked from covering Rajapaksa’s ‘development’ meeting at the Jaffna District Secretariat. Tamil journalists who had gathered at the District Secretariat, including those who had come from Colombo, were chased away.

In the meantime journalists in Jaffna blamed that the visiting Sri Lankan President has proclaimed a war against them in Jaffna on Monday.

The SL authorities had instructed administrative officials of the five districts of Northern province to be present at Rajapaksa’s meeting at Jaffna Kachcheari. Some of the female officials complained that they were forced to wear blue cloths and carry Sri Lankan lion flag to welcome the SL president.

TNA parliamentarians and the elected TNA representatives of the civic bodies in the North were not present at the ‘development’ meeting.

Suresh Premachandran of the TNA has said that the TNA was systematically excluded and that only a last minute invitation was given making it impossible for TNA to make a proper representation at the meeting.

The SL president, in his address at Chaavakachcheari hospital also claimed that there was no division such as ‘North, East, West, South and Up-country’ in the island. Mr. Rajapaksa further said that he had once asked Mr. Devananda why the Tamil parties and groups had put forward ‘unrealistic’ demands at Thimphu. Rajapaksa said that Devananda had responded by saying that Tamil parties and groups were intentionally putting forward ‘unrealistic’ frameworks to make it impossible for the SL government to agree upon anything.

Without mentioning the name of the TNA, the visiting SL president said the Tamil parties were still coming with ‘unrealistic’ demands as they did in Thimphu in 1985.


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