Troops break up Jaffna protest

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Last evening (Oct 8) Sri Lankan army troops chased out members of the Jaffna mother's Front and the Organization for the Arrested and Missing in Jaffna when they attempted to stage a Satyagraha in front of the Buddhist temple at the Ariyakulam junction in the Jaffna town.

This followed an altercation between the National Human Rights Commission that went Jaffna on Tuesday and the leaders of the two Jaffna organizations.

The Commission opened an office in Jaffna yesterday and met with these organizations. At this discussion members of the Commission, led by Sarvaodaya leader Dr.Ariyaratne, told the representatives of the two groups that illegal arrest and detention or disappearances will not take place in the future in Jaffna.

They (the Commissioners) tried to diffuse the tension and divert the issues which were brought up at the discussion by drawing a parallel with UNP's human rights atrocities in Sinhala areas in 1988-90.

The two Jaffna organizations objected to this by pointing out that what happened in south in 1988-90 cannot be compared to the events in the peninsula, for in the case of the former there were killings by various parties whereas in Jaffna all cases of disappearance are directly linked to the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The representatives of the Mother's Front and the Organization for the Arrested and the Missing in Jaffna strongly disagreed with the Human Rights Commission delegation on several issues and demanded that the government should hold a public and independent inquiry into the disappearances.

Following this the two organizations, marched in strength to the Ariyakulam junction in Jaffna town to stage a peaceful Satyagraha in front of the Buddhist temple which serves the Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lankan troops stationed in the peninsula.

The Sri Lankan army moved in quickly and forcibly dispersed the protestors. A leader of the organization for the arrested and the missing said that the Sri Lankan army's action appears to be linked to the failure of the talks with the Commission.

"The National Human Rights Commission, which we always knew was an insidious sham, had to come all the way to Jaffna to reveal its true face" he said.


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