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Govt does not approve attack on undergrads - Jeyaraj

Chief Government Whip Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle yesterday told Parliament that the Government does not approve the assault on university students who participated in a demonstration in Colombo on Monday.

The Minister responding to a statement by JVP MP Wimal Weerawansa said: "As Ministers we will never approve this incident which had taken place on International Human Rights Day. This is a move taken by police."

Following a request by the Minister, the JVP agreed to conduct a discussion on the Sabaragamuwa University issue at the Parliament complex last afternoon. Weerawansa making a special statement in Parliament said when International Human Rights Day was celebrated on December 10, police assaulted and arrested 10 university students participating in a demonstration in Colombo the same day.

The students had conducted this demonstration regarding a crisis in the Sabaragamuwa University.

However, the Government responded to this demonstration through a police attack and arresting to another 10 university students participating in this demonstration, he said.

In a situation where the entire university students have also extended their fullest cooperation to the Armed Forces to combat terrorism, attack against the university students is an undemocratic move by the police, he said. The MP questioned how the police could use its powers to curb students' democratic rights.

Security forces have only been given power to defeat terrorism, he said. Weerawansa said: "The Higher Education Minister is a professor. He cannot give solutions to student's problem from a professor mentality. He is not ready to even have a discussion with university students that is why the university students had to go before the UGC and protested on the Sabaragamuwa University issue.

Weerawansa said this move by police is a total violation of the students' right. "The Government has no right to assault or arrest students we would like to know the government's stand on this issue," he said.

He said Emergency regulations are passed not to use the law to curb peaceful demonstrations.

"If emergency is used in this undue manner, we have to think twice before we pass the Emergency. The Government should not play the fool with university students problems. After Prof. Viswa Warnapala became the Higher Education Minister, he officially met his Deputy Minister six months later.

Weerawansa said if the Higher Education Minister is not sensitive on the students' issues, others will never listen to their problems.

The Higher Education Minister does not have a mentality to listen to students, he said. "Therefore the Government should appoint a Ministerial Sub Committee to look into this matter.

There is no use of discussing this issue with the Higher Education Minister. The government should take steps to immediately release university students now in custody," he said.

Weerawansa said certain groups are attempting to show the international community that Sri Lanka as a country which violates human rights.

"The Government is indirectly fulfilling the objective of these conspirators by launching such police attacks against university students we should not assist such groups to gain their undue advantages. The Government should stop assault on students to prevent such objectives," he said.

TNA MP Mavay Senathirajah said the government should settle university students problems in a fair manner through discussions. Student's problems should not be handed over to police, he said.

UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said the UNP has spoken about the violation of human rights.

"We also spoke about the suppression against the minority communities and the media the government has started to suppress the students now."

 

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