Point Pedro students protest army presence

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 May 2002, 11:39 GMT]
Hundreds of students from two high schools in Point Pedro Thursday protested demanding the immediate removal of Sri Lanka Army camps from their schools’ premises. The demonstration, which started at 9 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m., was held in front of the Hartley College, but students from the nearby Vadamaradchi Methodist Girls' College also joined in, sources said.

The Sri Lanka Army has been occupying the school’s premises since 1997. The Students and teachers say that schooling is disrupted by the soldiers’ presence. Students and teachers have to enter and leave through checkpoints the army has set up at the entrances of these schools.

At the end of the protest , the Principal of Hartley College handed over a memorandum to the head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in Jaffna appealing for immediate steps to remove the army camps from the schools premises. A copy of the memorandum was sent to Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Under the ceasefire agreement between Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers which came into effect on February 23, SLA troops should have begun withdrawing from schools, places of worship and other public spaces and private homes immediately, and completed the relocation within 160 days. However, 90 days since the truce began, most of these positions are still being occupied by the SLA.

Last Monday, civil administration officials who met military commanders in Jaffna to discuss moving soldiers out of school premises were told that troops would not be moving out of 32 schools “for the foreseeable future.”

 

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