Teachers protest against army occupation in Northeast
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 11 March 2003, 11:50 GMT]
Tamil and Muslim Teachers in Northeast organized a symbolic strike by calling in sick demanding the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) vacate the schools, places of worship, private residences and public buildings which have been converted to SLA camps, sources in Batticaloa said.
Students had to return home due to absence of teachers.
Calling the Government of Sri Lanka to attend to their demands, hundreds of teachers marched from Batticaloa Hindu College grounds to Gandhi square this morning, sources said.
After the public meeting at Gandhi square, Batticaloa district head of the Ceylon Tamil Teachers Union (CTTU), S. Tharmarajan, handed over a memorandum to Additional Government Agent, V. Shanmugam and to Additional Education Commissioner, T. Ponnambalam to be given to Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe.
The Memorandum, earlier issued to the press by CTTU president T. Mahasivam contained 31 demands, sources said.
"Government should ask the security forces to leave schools, temples, private and public builds immediately as stated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Palali Teacher Training center and other schools which are currently closed as they fall within the High Security Zones (HSZ) should be immediately reopened facilitating progress in education in Northeast. Students are psychologically impacted by the camps located in populated areas as they face harassment from the soldiers. These camps have to be immediately removed," said the memorandum.
The memorandum further outlined other woes of Northeast teachers and demanded that they be immediately addressed. "At least one thousand volunteer teachers in the Northeast should be immediately made permanent. Compensation for flood damage promised to the teachers by the Government of SriLanka should be paid immediately," added the memorandum.
Memorandum further said,"Sinhalization of Tamil schools by appointment of Sinhala principals to Tamil schools must be immediately stopped. Inordinate delays in granting promotions to Tamil teachers should be avoided and promotion review carried out regularly on a yearly basis to avoid teacher frustrations."
Meanwhile, the protest fast being carried out by the Batticaloa-Amparai volunteer teachers entered its ninth day. The president of volunteer teachers union, A. Amirthalingam, said that the fast will continue until their demands are met.