SL Police detention of Tamil student leaders in Jaffna
The arrest of the two Tamil student leaders of the Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU) on Friday was a classic example which confirmed the fear of ordinary Tamil and Muslim people that the SL Intelligence Establishment would be misusing the recently re-introduced Emergency Regulations to target the innocent people and to curb their democratic activists. The SL military intelligence has deployed the ER in an inappropriate, unacceptable and irrelevant manner, which was totally out of proportions, said human rights activist Rev Fr SVB Mangalarajah on Monday. The veteran activist, representing a section of Tamil Catholic and Hindu priests who condemned the arrest of JUSU leaders. They urged the SL Government to release the student leaders if it was serious about not repeating the ER abuses as it was doing during the 40 years of the war in the North-East.
The SL Military Intelligence and the SL Police detained the two Tamil student leaders for having photos and banners associated with the Tamil struggle of the past.
The reasons given for the detention are highly unfounded, Fr Mangalarajah said.
“They have been arrested for certain pictures and banners which had been there for decades [...] These banners were displayed in public processions and in the public demonstrations. Nobody was arrested for possessing these pictures and banners [in the past],” he said.
These banners were in the premises of the JUSU for years. The two student leaders are elected only recently, he observed.
The University students give leadership to the Tamils whenever they need it. They do so in a non-violent and democratic way. Whether it is the issue of the people subjected to enforced disappearances, the case of political prisoners, the problems related to the release of lands or the remembrance of the Mu'l'li-vaaykkaal massacre, it was the JUSU students who were giving leadership in a very systematic, orderly, acceptable and democratic way, he said.
The intelligence quarters and the government are well aware of it. “I see that the arrest of these people as an attempt to silence the university community and to immobilise them with regard to giving leadership to the Tamils,” Fr Managalarajah said.
The religious leaders were addressing the journalists at the Jaffna Press Club.
The Tamil people are concerned, particularly those who have been affected in the past, that they are going to have a hard time. They were highly appreciative of the leadership given by the University community, the religious community leaders said.