UK University Tamil Societies and TYOUK condemn intimidation and attacks on Jaffna University Students

We, the undersigned Tamil youth and student organisations of the United Kingdom, strongly condemn the aggressive harassment and intimidation against Jaffna University students trying to remember their war dead, and the violent attacks carried out by Sri Lankan security forces on the peaceful student demonstration that followed.

In an act of protest against the harassment, aggression, and intrusion the Jaffna university students were subjected to in the days leading up to Tamil Remembrance Day – Maveerar Naal, the students of Jaffna University boycotted classes on Wednesday 28th November and held a rally outside the campus entrance.

Security forces confronted the protest, arresting 4 students and injuring at least 20 demonstrators. The vehicle of a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, who arrived at the scene after hearing reports of students being assaulted, was also attacked and damaged.

The police force and occupying Sri Lankan military forces have been engaged in a process of harassment and intimidation with the purpose of suppressing any attempt to commemorate the day of remembrance on Tuesday 27th November. This process included armed soldiers occupying the campus of Jaffna University and storming both male and female hostel rooms where Tamil students attempted to hold private vigils in remembrance of their war dead.

It is unacceptable and reprehensible that any people or nation could be prevented by a government and its security forces from mourning and remembering its war dead. The recent events highlight more brazen attempts by Sri Lanka to deny the Tamil nation of this basic right, through intimidation, aggression and sheer violence.

Furthermore, the security forces’ attacks on the demonstrators are a gross violation of the students’ right to freedom of assembly and freedom of association.

We call on the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the international community to pressurise the Sri Lankan government towards the immediate release of the detained students.

We call on the international community to recognise the Tamil nation, as with any other nation, has a right to national remembrance,

The United Nations and the international community must recognise that Sri Lanka is showing no progress or even intention of respecting its democratic obligations. Instead Sri Lanka is further demonstrating utter disregard for the rights of Tamils on the island, as well as its intent to silence and punish any voice of dissent from the Tamil nation.

We call on the international community to recognise that these acts of repression are not singular, and are part of a historic, on-going and systematic genocide to subjugate the Tamil community – a programme that is characteristic of the Sri Lankan state since its independence in 1948.

We call for the United Nations and the international community to demand a concrete political solution to the Tamil question, taking into account the Tamil nation’s grievances, demands and right to self-determination.

In addition to our calls, we present 5 basics demands to the United Kingdom, United Nations and international community.

1. Pressurise the Sri Lankan government to immediately release the detained students.

2. Recognise the Tamil nation’s right to remember those that had given their lives fighting for Tamil rights.

3. Secure an environment for Tamil youths to freely express political aspirations.

4. Secure an environment that will allow the free exercise of democratic rights in Tamil territories.

5. Demand a political solution on the island that takes into account the Tamil nation’s grievances, demands and right to self-determination.

Our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in the North-East who continue to face this genocide today and we stand in solidarity with them as they struggle for their right to mourn our nation’s loss.