Student Leader Is Attacked In Jaffna


A STUDENT leader was attacked and seriously wounded in Jaffna on Sunday, reports TamilNet.

Suspected Sri Lanka Army intelligence personnel armed with sharp iron rods followed the Jaffna University Student Union leader S. Thavapalasingham on more than eight motorbikes and attacked him at Kantharmadam in Jaffna seriously wounding the student leader who has been mobilising students in democratic protests against the grease-devil threat recently.

The 24-year-old Thavapalasingham has been admitted at the Intensive Care Unit of Jaffna Teaching Hospital.

This is the third iron-rod attack on prominent persons of the civil society in Jaffna after the Vanni war.

Suresh Premachandran’s secretary Ramesh, who now heads the Valikaamam East Piratheasa Chapai (PS) narrowly escaped from the attackers first.

Later, in July 2011, the chief news editor of Uthayan daily, Gnanasundaram Kuganathan, was attacked by a motorbike squad.

Subramaniyam Thavapalasingham, from Puthoor of Mullaiththeevu district in Vanni, was elected as the leader of the JUSU in 2010.

The Student Union has held a remembrance event on 18 May 2010, paying tribute to the thousands of victims of Vanni war.

The event was held amid harassment by the occupying SL military and its paramilitary group, EPDP, which is headed by SL Minister Douglas Devananda.

The EPDP, exerting control on the administrative affairs of the university in Jaffna, has been opposing the election of Thavapalasingham.

The Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University, Vasanthy Arasaradnam was forced not to recognise the election of Thavapalasingham.

However, following the protests by the students, the Vice Chancellor had to finally accept the election of Thavapalasingham, but there has been no formal engagements between the JUSU and the University administration, which is under the pressure and influence of the occupying SL military and its agents.

The protest against the grease-devil attack drew thousands of participants from the students of Jaffna.

Despite the disruptive efforts by the SL military intelligence and the EPDP, the student leaders have managed to reflect their voice in meeting foreign envoys visiting Jaffna and in organising public protests.

‘The attack on Thavapalasingham is an attack on the entire student society in Jaffna,’ said a JUSU representative who met journalists after visiting the attacked student leader at the hospital.

Meanwhile, citing evidence from Australian Tamil witnesses, the International Commission of Jurists, an international NGO dedicated to ensuring respect for international human rights standards through the law, has submitted a brief before the Australian Federal Police (AFP), to investigate Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to Australia, former navy Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, for committing possible war-crimes.

Samarasinghe was the commander of the Sri Lankan navy’s eastern and then northern areas, as well as naval chief of staff, during the final years of Sri Lanka’s civil war.

Separate and independent allegations have been made, to the jurists’ commission and other investigators, that naval ships fired directly on unarmed civilians as they fled the conflict.

There has been no evidence Admiral Samarasinghe was involved in shelling, or gave direct orders to that effect, but the submission before the Australian police states military superiors hold a responsibility for the actions of those under their command.

‘The AFP (Australian Federal Police) is currently evaluating the submission. Therefore it is not appropriate to comment further,’ an AFP spokesperson said.

The submission has been sent to the AFP and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as to the offices of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

It calls for investigations into Admiral Samarasinghe and other key military and political figures, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is commander-in-chief of Sri Lanka’s armed forces, with a view to issuing arrest warrants against those responsible.

Responding to the ICJ’s submission, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon urged Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd to add his voice to the growing international call for an independent investigation into the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war.

Senator Rhiannon said: ‘In May 2010, my colleague Adam Bandt said the Australian Government would not be wise to accept ex-military officers for diplomatic positions.

‘This appointment should once again be revisited in light of the ICJ submission to the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.’

An earlier filing with the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused dual Australian-Sri Lankan citizen Palitha Kohona – who was an Australian diplomat in the 1980s, and is now Sri Lanka’s representative to the UN – of war crimes for complicity in sending, via intermediaries, text messages to defeated Tamil Tigers and civilians, telling them they could surrender, unarmed and under a white flag, to government troops.

The Australian police have confirmed they are evaluating the allegations against Dr Kohona ‘with a view to determining any potential breaches of Australian law’.

The President of the Australian section of the ICJ is former NSW Supreme Court justice and attorney-general John Dowd.

The International Commission of Jurists is an independent international law body, based in Geneva. It holds consultative status with UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the African Union.