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July 11, 2001


We roundly condemn the closure of the Jaffna University by the Sri Lankan army, a shameful act that has dealt a blow to freedom of association and right to peaceful protest by the Tamil people.  

It is not the protest by the Tamil students that had led to the closure of the Jaffna University. It is the arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of Krishnasamy Thivyan, former Secretary of Jaffna University Students Union by the Sinhala army on trumped up charges that has triggered the present crisis. The successful Ponku Tamil agitation by University students demanding right of self-determination of the Tamil people had earned the wrath of the Sinhala army. The army took that as a threat to its authoritarian rule and was gunning for the student leaders who spearheaded the agitation.

It is obvious that the arrest of Thivyan is not a chance coincidence, but a premeditated act by the Sinhala army. He has survived earlier attempts on his life by the army.  

The Sinhala army is engaged in a propaganda war trying to portray itself as the liberators and saviours of the Tamil people. President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, boasts that the army "liberated the Tamil people from the clutches of the Tigers." But the agitation led by the Tamil students has totally discredited such spurious  claims. The army as well as President Chandrika now stand exposed without a fig leaf to cover their shame. 

The mass agitation by Tamils showed clearly that the LTTE far from being despised by the Tamils were looked upon by them as the real saviours and liberators.
The Sinhala army has been used by Sinhalese rulers as an instrument of state terror to subjugate the Tamil people.

It was Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike who first used the troops to violently break the peaceful Satyagraha campaign in 1961. Since then the Sinhala army has tightened its grip of the Northeast by establishing hundreds of army camps, check points and detention centres to terrorise and subjugate the Tamil people. 

The E.RR and PTA have vested draconian powers in the hands of the Sinhala army to turn the Northeast into an open prison for the Tamil people. The infrastructure of the Northeast has been destroyed beyond repairs. Fishing and farming have been devastated by bombing and shelling. 

A national army generally speaking is only deployed to defend a country's borders and repulse external aggression. Citizens feel proud of such an army. But the Sri Lankan army is a racist outfit used systematically for internal repression of Tamil people.

It is also deployed to create, assist and provide security to state sponsored Sinhalese settlements in Tamil Homeland. The Sinhala army being a law unto itself enjoys a climate of official impunity from punishment by the authorities. This has encouraged the armed forces to escalate massive human rights abuses against Tamil civilians.  

Civilians killed by the army are dubbed as "Tigers" or “Tiger suspects." Extra-judicial executions, murder, rape, arrest, disappearances, cordon-and-search operations and retaliatory attacks against civilians have become the stock-in-trade of the armed forces. The Tamil people living under the yoke of repression will never enjoy peace as long as the Sinhala army occupies their homeland. Peaceful protests and demonstrations will not succeed against an enemy bent on imposing Sinhala hegemonic rule by force. Therefore, if the Tamils want to live in peace, security, dignity and freedom, the Sinhala army has to be forcibly ejected from the Northeast. 

We wish to express our solidarity with the student organizations demanding the release of Thivyan and re-opening of the Jaffna University. We
once again condemn his arbitrary arrest and vow to do everything with in our power to expose the racist character of the Sinhala army and the Sinhala government internationally.