Unemployed Graduates picket in Batticaloa
[TamilNet, Thursday, 27 February 2003, 01:01 GMT]
The Unemployed Graduates Association of Batticaloa (UGAB) held an hour long picketing campaign at the Kallady bridge in Batticaloa Monday blocking vehicles lined up on both ends of the bridge causing traffic congestion in the area, sources said.
There were arguments between the protesters and the Police. Sri Lankan military personnel were posted at the scene, but the picketing ended without any violence. Members of the UGAB carried placards and posters criticizing the government, members of parliament and officials.
A handbill distributed by the UGAB to the public said: “We university graduates in Batticaloa apologize for the inconveniences we have caused through our picketing campaign. We hope you will support our campaign to draw the attention of the authorities. Currently, there are more than a 1000 unemployed graduates. With degrees in Arts, Commerce, Science and Management, these graduates have remained unemployed since 1998. According to media reports, there are hundreds of vacancies for Tamil medium teachers on several subjects across the country. Why the delay in filling the vacancies?
“We who studied without electricity and graduated from universities, have been forced into the unfortunate situation of remaining dependent on our parents even for the basic needs of food and clothing. Though several years have passed since we obtained our degrees, we are unable to become self-employed. We contacted political leaders from several parties, the government agent, the governor of the North-East province and several others concerned, in several forms, and explained to them that we would need appointments commensurate with our education. But there has been no response to our petitions.
“It is in this context of being neglected by the government that we have been forced to resort to picketing to draw attention to our problems. We hope that the public will understand our stand. Tomorrow, if the form of our protest changes, the government and concerned officials should take full responsibility.”
Criticizing the local parliamentarians, the UGAB handbill said, “We have been neglected, in Ampara, Trincomalee and Jaffna. Even those who graduated in 2001 have been given appointments, but graduates of 1998 have been denied any appointment.
“Graduates from the majority community are given appointments almost immediately after graduation. Why this neglect of minorities? In particular, why is the Batticaloa district being deliberately neglected?
“In the past, the war was given as the reason for the neglect. In this climate of peace, as representatives of our people, concerned officials should take effort to make immediate appointments to the unemployed graduates of Batticaloa.”