Students condemn Batticaloa Brigadier's comments
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 28 February 2001, 11:56 GMT]
Undergraduates of the Eastern University demonstrated Tuesday condemning the statement of the Sri Lanka army's Batticaloa brigade commander that their 'Pongu Thamil' program had been organised by the Liberation Tigers. Col. V.L.R Anthonis, the SLA commander for Batticaloa, charged Monday at a meeting for local journalists and school principals that the Liberation Tigers had organised the 'Pongu Thamil' rally by students and teachers of the Eastern University on 20 February. .
"The army is preparing to intimidate us with military force by painting our peaceful rally to urge negotiations, cease-fire and a settlement that would meet the legitimate political aspirations of the Tamil people as one organised by the Tigers" a student leader said
Hundreds of students held up placards and shouted slogans on the campus grounds from 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m. SLA soldiers, meanwhile, arrived at the University during the demonstration and attempted to photograph the students. But they were prevented by the students, although the soldiers tried to claim that they were newspaper reporters.
The students refused to accept their story, telling the soldiers that journalists do not come in army trucks. "Pongu Thamil' was organised to express the hitherto repressed aspirations of the Tamil people. The students of the Eastern University joined the people of Batticaloa for the first time in 21 years to do a rally like this. The army and certain other elements want to suppress this" the student leader said.
While concluding the programme the students declared that a political solution to the island's ethnic conflict should recognise Tamil people's right to self-determination, their traditional homeland their distinct nationality
Col. Anthonis charged that the 'Pongu Thamil' program at the Eastern University (on 20 February) was organised by the Liberation Tigers. He said that the LTTE is an organisation banned in Sri Lanka and that the declaration read out at the conclusion of Pongu Thamil at the Eastern University was for a separate state.
(The Pongu Thamil declaration was based on the right of self-determination, the Tamils' traditional homeland and their recognition as a distinct nationality)
The commander urged the principals who were at the meeting to discourage their students from taking part in such activities against the Sri Lankan government.
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