University of Jaffna observes silent protest in solidarity with civilians in Vanni

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 August 2008, 09:40 GMT]
Hundreds of students and the staff of the University of Jaffna Tuesday morning gathered for a silent protest against the isolation of civilians in Vanni by the Sri Lankan government. The silent protest by the University society, expressing solidarity with thousands of displaced people in Vanni, comes after a long period of time marked with targeted annihilation of protesting voices in Jaffna.

Univefrsity of Jaffna, Silent Protest
Academics, staff and students of the University of Jaffna on silent protest
"We express our deep felt sympathy and support to the thousands of Internally Displaced Persons in the Vanni mainland and our strong condemnation against the Sri Lanka Government for continually unleashing severe military and aerial offensives on the people of Vanni,” the President of Jaffna University Students Union (JUSU) said in his introductory speech at the beginning of the protest which began at 10:00 a.m.

Univefrsity of Jaffna, Silent Protest
Academics, staff and students of the University of Jaffna on silent protest
The Vice-chancellor Prof. N. Shanmuglingan, Faculty Deans, lecturers, administrative staff and students in their hundreds observed 15-minutes absolute silence at Kailasapathy Auditorium, which has become the venue of 'Silent' plays and prayers. The hall lacked space to accommodate all the participants. Hundreds of students stood outside the hall and participated in the protest. The lectures and other activities in the University were suspended from 10:00 a.m for an hour.

"The Jaffna University society is observing this silent protest, at a time when freedom of speech and freedom of expression are denied to the residents of Jaffna peninsula," the JUSU representatives said.

Thousands of people, driven out of their settlements in Vanni by the relentless artillery barrage and air strikes, are suffering in makeshift shelters under trees and along the streets besides being denied food, medicine and other essential goods.

The Sri Lankan government has suspended all communication with Vanni including phone connections, postal service.

“The government has systematically and very effectively cut off all connections between Vanni and the outer world to carry on its scheme of annihilating the people in Vanni in the dark in its next phase of an offensives onslaught,” the JUSU representatives further said.

Destroyed memorial in front of Kailasapathy Hall at the Univeristy of Jaffna
A memorial constructed during the ceasefire period outside the Kailasapathy Hall, in destoryed state

Jaffna Memorial
The memorial for the war-dead Tamil heroes constructed in November 2005. [TamilNet Library photo]

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