Undergrads, public prevent holding of EU function

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 July 2003, 14:48 GMT]
Jaffna undergrads and the public Tuesday prevented an European Union function attended by Sri Lankan cabinet minister Dr.Jayalath Jayawardene from being held at the Kailasapathy auditorium, Jaffna University, for handing over fifty five schools renovated with the funds provided by the EU, saying they would not allow any Sri Lankan minister to hold any function inside the university premises until students in the peninsula were allowed to pursue their studies free of military pressure of the Sri Lankan government, education department sources said.

The European Union (EU) allocated six million Euros for the renovation of fifty-five schools, which were badly affected by the two decade-old war in the Jaffna district. The German Technical Co-operation (GTZ), an international aid organization, implemented this project. Mines laid in and out of these fifty-five schools were removed under this project. New furniture was provided, GTZ sources said.

The principals of the 55 schools were invited Tuesday to take charge of the renovated schools at a function scheduled at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Jaffna University’s Kailasapathy Auditorium.

When the chief guest, Sri Lankan Minister for Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refugees Dr.Jayalath Jayawardene, arrived with the EU Charge de Affairs in Colombo, Mr.Wouter L Wilton, a group of undergrads and members of public gathered at the main entrance of the Jaffna University and protested that they would not allow any function attended by Sri Lankan ministers in the university until normalcy was fully restored in the peninsula, enabling the students to attend schools without military pressure.

The students and public further told the Minister that the SLA high security zones should be removed, enabling schools such as Hartley College and Methodist Girls College to function free of military presence and pressure and until then they would not allow any meetings inside the university with the participation of government ministers, sources said.

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Jaffna undergrads surrounding the car carrying Minister Jayawardene

Later, Minister Jayawardene made an attempt to hold the function outside the main entrance of the university on the main road. Students and members of the public, sources said, also thwarted that attempt.

The function was finally held at the office of the GTZ organization, which is located close to the St John's College in Jaffna in the afternoon. The fifty-five principals at that function took charge of the renovated schools.

Minister Jayawardene addressing the gathering at the GTZ office said that media should not report these events as an attempt to sabotage the peace process. " I will not be deterred by these incidents. I am not bothered about my life. I will pursue my mission to achieve peace with a lasting political solution to the ethnic conflict," he said.

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Minister Jayalath Jayawardene inside the car unable to get down to enter the University

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Undergrads forcibly prevent Minister Jayawardene and the EU Charge de Affairs


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