Teachers and students in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, are striking against the arrest and interrogation of leading Tamil activists from their university.
The protest began on Wednesday of last week. It follows the arrest of four campaigners, including three senior figures from the student union. The students were brutally attacked by government-backed paramilitaries that have set up an office opposite the university.
The students are being charged with celebrating Maveerar Naal, or Martyr’s Day, which is illegal under the country’s anti-terrorism laws. They are also accused of firebombing the office of a Tamil political party.
The assault follows a pattern of systematic repression of Tamils in their homelands in the north and east of Sri Lanka. This has been going on since 2009 when the Sri Lankan military defeated those seeking a separate Tamil state.
Police and intelligence officers last month mobilised around the university. They broke into a women’s student hostel and ransacked their rooms. Leading Tamils, including MPs and newspaper editors, visited the scene afterwards. They were attacked by police too.
The next day paramilitary cops attacked a group of around 400 unarmed students when they attempted to march in protest at the assaults.
The continuing military offensive has nothing to do with disarming the Tamil Tiger fighters, who fought for a Tamil state. The aim of the crackdown is to intimidate all Tamil people with a view to stripping them of their Sri Lankan citizenship.
Tamil areas are placed under a rigid military administration, with entry and exit strictly controlled by military checkpoints. Land allocated for housing displaced Tamils has been bulldozed by the military.
But a growing movement of protests, demonstrations and marches by Tamil students and workers is challenging this repression.
Socialist Worker is in solidarity with all those resisting Sri Lankan government oppression and supports all those who are demonstrating in Jaffna.
Send messages to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, [email protected], in protest at the arrest of Paramalingam Dharshanath (secretary of the Jaffna University Student Union); Ganeshamoorthi Sudarshan (medical faculty Student); Kanagasabapathi Jenamejayan (Arts Union president); Shanmugan Solomon (final year science faculty student). Send messages of support to [email protected]