26 June, 2019

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Banned Press Conference Outside The Campus: Release The Student Leader – FUTA

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo and the Registrar today tried to prevent  the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) from holding a press conference at the University of Colombo Faculty Club, by deploying the university security services and Marshalls who prevented journalists from entering the premises.  The UGC circular that banned the media from entering university premises during last year’s FUTA trade union action was repealed according to an agreement reached between the Ministry of Higher Education /UGC and the Federation as part of the FUTA’s suspension of their four month long strike. Hence, today’s actions by the University of Colombo authorities was unlawful. This is symptomatic of the increasingly undemocratic and intolerant cultures within universities.

However, the FUTA officials went ahead to address the media outside, near the gate of the Planetarium entrance to the University. The Federation expressed its disgust at the authorities’ treatment not only of the university teachers’ freedom to hold a press conference, but at the way in which the media was prevented from doing its job.  The President of FUTA, Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri said in his statement  that the last weeks have seen a series o f incidents involving university students and that unprecedented numbers of students have been suspended from state universities.

FUTA said that the Convenor of the Inter-University Student Federation, Mr Sanjeewa Bandara has been arrested and that in almost all universities, student union activities are being suppressed blocking all legitimate channels for students to express their grievances. While academics have often disagreed and critiqued student politics and certain types of student activism, even in the darkest moments of our past, university academics believed in the right of students to have representation in decision making and to form unions and organisations.  One of the reasons for this is that these bodies provide students with forums to express and resolve their grievances. The FUTA said, at the press briefing today, that it condemns in the strongest possible terms, the manner in which the authorities are dealing with student issues.

FUTA reiterated that  the authorities and especially the Minister of Higher Education and other officials at the Ministry, see students as a threat to their agenda and are seeking to suppress any activism and action from university students.  They reiterate that the state must take the responsibility of appointing suitable persons to such positions.  FUTA will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the public are aware of these devious agendas and will also take whatever necessary steps to make sure the plans to undermine the national universities are thwarted.

Since many of the Vice-Chancellors of universities are political appointments, it is not surprising that the senior management of the universities also remain indifferent to these problems and are in fact, incapable of responding appropriately to them.  After all, they were appointed to these positions not for their ability to further university education in this country, but to serve the wills of their political masters.

FUTA said: “We call for the immediate release of Mr Sanjeewa Bandara and a cessation of hostile moves against student unions and their leaders.  We demand that the grievances of students and staff due to short-sighted and distorted education policies are addressed immediately.  We hold the authorities responsible for the wellbeing and safety of students and university staff and we will continue to call to account the authorities for endangering the wellbeing of the university community”.

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    good show way to go

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    “Since many of the Vice-Chancellors of universities are political appointments, it is not surprising that the senior management of the universities also remain indifferent to these problems and are in fact, incapable of responding appropriately to them. After all, they were appointed to these positions not for their ability to further university education in this country, but to serve the wills of their political masters.”

    A sad situation. Is this a democracy?

    1. Politicians want it that way.

    2. Racist Monks want it that way,to be Buddhist Terrorists. Monks hoing Amok.

    3. Monk-Politician Hegemony

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    While I’m totally against the government act of militarising higher education, I would like to talk about the other side of the story.
    So-called student leaders are full time employees for certain political parties. And their sole objective is to promote their political view and work for the political party/ group interests.
    To engage in that student ragging is a vital tool. By conducting in-human raging they find new members to their group and make it an event to have some fun, by revenging the student whom they believe are from well to do families.

    Well, it is not just students from well to do families (as they believe) are the victims, but all students. Covered by the veil of ragging more other things go on. Sexual harassments and other undue advantages. As a result some rape / murder / suicide cases has been reported ( look at the history of raging in Sri Lanka).This is the harsh truth.

    On the other hand government take advantage of the situation to conduct their political agenda. by militarising the education, saying to prevent ragging. And still ragging goes on in the country. Those students who are arrested were virtually not students. They have remained in universities for 7-8 years full time to conduct their political agendas.

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      Quite true. I have experiened it personally. Ragging is a means to identify indivduals who have opposing views and terrorise them into silence. After a heavy dose of ragging no one wants to object to anything the unions say, no matter how preposterous. As you say, while this happening, others take undue advantage and see it as a chance to torture, sexually harrass etc. Some victims try to use the situation to their advantage too, by working as spies or assisting raggers in identifying “enemies”, acting as communication links etc. The whole thing has a complex sociological dimension.

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    Keep up the pressure. The day will dawn soon for democracy and justice to prevail

    Ram

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    These spineless invertebrate leaders of the FUTA are a disgrace to the whole intellectuals of this country. I do not see any difference between these women in men’s cloths and the “Bus Gemunu” of the private bus owners union. “Bus Gemunu” abandoned the so called bus strike immediately after the arrest of some of their members. The FUTA is in fact totally against the agitations carried out by the students. They consider it as a disturbance to their peaceful lives. The FUTA is now fully satisfied after getting the salary increase. Actually FUTA got their salary increase due to the fight carried out by the university students. By holding a “press conference” under a tree these invertebrates have given a bad example to the students showing the method of surrendering to the suppressive regime. I saw in a photo the timid leader of FUTA carrying five chairs himself to the place where the “press conference” was held. The authorities have broken the pact that they have signed with the FUTA by banning their conference. They should have immediately stopped work and protested against this action instead of holding conferences under trees with only three pseudo-leaders participating. If there is a conference it has to be carried out with a standard suitable for intellectuals. If the teachers who are the guardians of students hold conferences under trees like kinder garden kids students may hold their meetings in bathrooms and places like these. This FUTA press conference was held only to deceive the students by showing that the FUTA is supporting them. FUTA’s 6% demand too was only a cellulose capsule to hide their cyanide of salary increase. FUTA should have kept silent and slept in their rooms instead of doing this type of “peechang” (sweeping) work and diluting the vigor of the student population. I think the students are quite capable of carrying out their struggles without the “help” of these “pathola” pseudo-leaders.
    If the FUTA “leaders” are actually interested in holding a press conference they are able to hold a standard conference in a place like Jayawardene Center or in Hotel Nippon. They have enough financial resources to plan such a conference. This “under the tree conference” was held only to wash their hands and keep away from their duty towards the students. This reminds me of the Judge Pontius Pilate publicly washing his hands after sentencing Jesus to death. After washing his hands it is said that he uttered the words “now I am free from all the sin and I can now sleep well”. The FUTA leaders too must have said after having the “under the tree conference” ” Now we can have a bottle of beer and sleep well”

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    VC at the University of Colombo is a Dam Idiot. Talking about the international standard just taking a 8 year long PhD from Sri Lanka.
    Idiot

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