19 September, 2018

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Jaffna University Science Faculty Closed Following Ethnic Clash

A clash erupted at the University of Jaffna’s Science Faculty between a group of Tamil-Sinhalese students, with the university’s Vice Chancellor Professor Vasanthi Arasaratnam ordering the Sinhalese students to leave Vavuniya, after the Faculty was closed indefinitely. Four buses were brought in to transport the students back to their hometowns in the South.

After the war, several Sinhalese students have been admitted to the university, especially the Faculty of Science where they number about a half of the student population. “This has given students a multiethnic, cosmopolitan experience which is now threatened,” said a Senior Lecturer alluding in part to the more extensive use of the English language now.

The background to this skirmish is a freshers’ welcome at the Science Faculty today (16 July). The organizing student committee of the Science Students Union (SSU) had planned a march with traditional Tamil welcome drums and music, garlanding and escorting the Dean and Academic Staff from the Science Faculty gates for the event in the mathematics department hall.

JaffnaLast evening however, the Sinhalese students put in a request for Kandyan dancers too to join the procession. The committee-meeting considering the request went on for long, refusing to accept a suggestion at the last minute. The matter then was passed on to the University Students’ Union dominated by the arts/management students who insisted it should be only the Tamil welcome form.

Some senior science academics intervened and urged that the march from the gate be scrapped and that the music should be only inside the hall where both groups could offer their form of welcome at 1:00 p.m. when the staff would also be there.

Today, however, as the event began, musicians playing Tamil drums and music were seen at the gate. Seeing this, the Sinhalese students joined in with their Kandyan music escort. Primarily the arts/commerce students started pelting the Sinhalese students with stones. The Sinhalese students sheltered in the science building by the Physics Department signboard. The building had glass windows. As the panes broke and fell, some Sinhalese students sustained minor cuts, said a Senior Lecturer who was watching.

Matters got out of hand as the injured students posted close-ups of their cuts on their Face book pages. Worried parents urged their children to come home and called university authorities to check on their children’s safety.

The VC in a panic ordered the evacuation. At the time of writing, Saturday night, some senior staff are trying to stop the evacuation, saying “I fear a replay of 1977 when students exaggerated what happened to them and contributed to the events of that time. All our efforts at building up the university as a multiethnic community would be set back. The government and the VC should sort it out without effecting a virtual divorce between two university communities that have been good friends so far.”

Unfortunately, because the Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Union (JUSTA) has issued stringent strictures against the Vice Chancellor over what they see as her brazen violation of recruitment procedures, the senior staff who decided that it is important to do peace building after recalling the buses, are unable to communicate with the VC. “We do not even have her hand-phone number,” said a staff member during a weekend when they are seeing a change of science deans which adds to the problems.

In the meantime, JUSTA has issued the following statement on the matter: “Some unwanted incidents related to the freshers’ welcome party led to violent clashes among the Students today. Some students were injured and are being treated in the hospital. As a result, the Science Faculty is closed to the students and all the students are returning to their homes.

“We strongly condemn the violent actions of some of the students. We urge all citizens of this country to do all they could to defuse the situation and help all students to resume their studies in the University at the earliest.”Jaffna-Skirmish

 

 

 

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    This is the island mentality Sinhalese or Tamil people must grow up never coz world has more problems solving than this inferiority and superiority complex Tamil is a minority thats a true fact . Tamils must except but it dose not make them minority in standards of living guys i am not a Sinhalese or a Tamil i am a burgher the smallest community in the country we think as srilankans we feel for every part in this country and for all the people . learn to mix i think that must start with Tamils coz if not they will be like the frogs in a well when they start they will realize Sinhalese community is not bad as they think … learn to live superiority and minority is in your mind . learn to live and let live and violence will always effect the Tamil community. blend get off this peninsula mentality jaffna people must travel around the island then understand your problem is our problem as well . thats how a black man became the USA president if it was violence never would have ha-pend.i hate all kind of racists coz they create a drama and the poor innocents will have to suffer…. like in this case medical faculty fighters will fight and they will be doctors one day… if a drama base pone this starts around the nation this guys will go abrode and say fight so innocent uneducated children will kill each other for noter 30 years … thats what happend last time .. who ever is a racist is a racist dose not matter if he was my parents even must whip of racism from our beautiful mother land cheers may triple gem and god bless you all

    • 7
      3

      Any sinhala majority areas is a multi ethnic cosmopolitan area. Both tamils and Muslim businesses functions in south, all universities in South hold tamil cultural events and their dances , the south is a shining spot where diversity is celebrated. It is the Tamils who want to maintain a mono ethnic area only for themselves. There is nothing wrong in Jaffna being dominated by Tamils but it should be multi ethnic and cosmopolitan like Colombo. The tamils starting from their leaders in 1920 are averse to anything non tamil

  • 6
    6

    This is the actual fact:

    The Sinhala military-backed Sinhala students numbering more than Tamils at the Science Faculty of the University of Jaffna attacked the Tamil students after violently staging Kandyan dance opposing the usual traditional Tamil cultural program at the welcoming ceremony to new students in the faculty.

    The episode quickly escalated into a clash between Tamil and Sinhala students for more than one hour. Tamil students from other faculties mobilised to defend their fellow students at the Science Faculty and Sinhala military intelligence personnel in civil clothes entered the premises brutally attacking Tamil students. More than 10 students were rushed to hospital with injuries since the clash started.

    The real culprits behind the Jaffna University clash is the Sinhala Army. It is they who urged the Sinhala students to create trouble. There is talk in the town that the SL military personal loyal to Gotabaya Rajapakshe were involved in instigating the Sinhala students to go ahead with the Kandyan dance and attack the Tamil students if they protest. This is an attempt by the joint opposition to create an island wide ethnic violence or rather another black July to destabilize the present government.

    The government should be commended for controlling the situation without giving it unnecessary publicity which would have only benefited the Rajapakshes and their cohorts.

    • 1
      0

      Racist politicians never contribute progressive ideas but their target is setting out fire between the vulnerable & the secret set up (UNIT) violence. History tells how a Non violence Satyagraha in Jaffna peninsula was crushed. It was pure military involvement and civilians were badly victimized.
      Jaffna Campus incident looks like the same pattern and it’s very unfortunate event in the volatile zone. University students should be able to understand that they are going to be forefront in nation building. On the contrary, they are guided by the racist politicians for their own political gains. All are miss guided towards bad Omen.
      This event is another example to show the world that number of politicians are fishing in the trouble waters

  • 5
    4

    If you look at the tape the Tamil kids were moving peacefully in the procession until that procession was attacked. It is very clear that the military backed Sinhala students instigated it and finally ended up in hospital. Things went wrong when the Kandyan dance which was not in the program agenda was imposed in an arrogant manner by the Sinhala students to show their highhandedness and the power they possess due to the occupied Sinhala military.

    There are certainly some vested interests by some Southern political groups in exaggerating the clash in order to benefit from the troubles thus created. However, this time the statements from the government and its ministers aim to appease the situation (unlike JR who was arrogant when he said “If you want war, you’ll have it”).

    A Jaffna-based senior journalist said that because of the language barrier, the Sinhalese students either stick to their own ethnic group or mingle with the predominantly Sinhalese army and police. And the Security Forces, who have traditionally been at odds with the Tamil students of Jaffna, could have instigated the Sinhalese students to make an issue of the inclusion of Kandyan dancing at the welcoming function. There are also rumours that this can be a conspiracy by the Rajapakshe loyalists within the Army to create another island wide Anti-Tamil pogrom.

  • 4
    2

    Today the Sinhalese students in the science faculty is over 60% due to poor results obtained by Thamil students in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitheevu, Mannar and Vavuniya districts. This results in intake of Sinhalese students in great numbers and their ability to impose their will and dictate terms. All are equal but Sinhalese are more equal than Thamils. This in short is the crux of the problem. In addition they have the moral support of the racially biased Sinhalese army and police. Do Universities in the south allow Thamil students the freedom to participate with their own cultural dances?

  • 0
    2

    No more different between some rajapaksa supporters and ISIS.both of ruthless animals never respect others cultures and tradition.

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