‘SLA has no authority to prevent students from attending Pongu Thamil’ - Ezhilan

[TamilNet, Friday, 29 August 2003, 13:06 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army has no authority to prevent students from attending the Pongu Thamil event in Vavuniya when 24 schools have been declared as falling into the High Security Zone in Vavuniya by the SLA and the students of these schools are denied their education, said Ms. S.Ezhilan, the political head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Vavuniya on Friday.

“Despite the ceasefire and the peace talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, the students continue to be deprived of their education. Students in general have every right to express their condemnation of the denial of the right of any student to study in his/her own school by attending events such as the Pongu Thamil. Similarly the displaced people also want to express their desire to go back to their homes and they will express this through the Pongu Thamil event, and the SLA has no right to prevent them from attending, Mr. Ezhilan said.

Mr.Ezhilan’s remarks were made following a directive from the SLA’s commanding officer in Vavuniya, Maj. Gen. Susil Chandrapala, to the Vavuniya South zonal Director of Education that students should not be allowed to attend the Pongu Thamil event.

He said that the two-decades-old war has ended and the people of Sri Lanka do not want to see a war again. “When some sections like the JVP in the South are instigating the public and holding anti-peace marches, the SLA doesn’t notice it and the police provides them security. However, when the people of Vavuniya want to express their aspirations and their condemnation of actions that impede their return to normal life through events like the Pongu Thamil, the SLA is trying to pressure the public from attending it,” charged Mr. Ezhilan.

“The Emergency Regulations are not currently in force, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act has lost its validity,” Mr. Ezhilan said. At this stage, “the SLA’s attempt to threaten the public from attending the Pongu Thamil event creates the suspicion that the country is ruled by the military.”

Meanwhile, the organizers of the Pongu Thamil event said the event has been postponed from the 15th to 24th in September, as arrangements could not be completed. They said that invitations to the event would be sent to a large number of people, including the President of Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Foreign envoys in Colombo and Buddhist prelates.

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