Updates on ground situation in Jaffna
After the violent unrest that started late November in Jaffna, (for photos and background, read The death of Freedom of Assembly, Expression and Religion in the North of Sri Lanka), Groundviews has continuously received updates on the ground situation. In addition to forwarding these updates via email, we have decided to post them on the site for increased awareness and greater public debate on the disturbing situation in and around post-war Jaffna today. The updates are posted as we received them and as accounts open to contestation.
We also strongly welcome further verification and corroboration by readers in the area or familiar with what’s going on. We will continue to update this blog post as we receive new updates. Please follow @groundviews on Twitter for notifications and also see our Facebook page.
Situation Update as at 11.20am, 10 December, 2012
The six students including five from the University of Jaffna (UoJ) Medical Faculty and one from the Management Faculty, who were handed over to the Vavuniya TID on December 6th, 2012, have been released this morning. Furthermore, of the three students who surrendered to the Human Rights Commission on the 7th of December, who on the advice of the Commission surrendered to the Vavuniya TID office, two have also been released this morning following 2-3 days of interrogation.
However, there seems to be no further news on the whereabouts or welfare of the Student Union President, V. Bhavananadan, who also surrendered to the TID with the two Science Faculty students who have now been released. Meanwhile, the three Student Union Members of the UoJ, Sanmugam Solaman, Kanagasundram Jenamajenth, and the Student Union Secretary Paramalingam Tharshaanan who were arrested on the 29th and 30th of November, are still being held in detention.
Parents of the students had been denied permission to visit the boys at the TID Office in Vavuniya this morning. The parents of the students fear that their children have been transferred to the Rehabilitation Centre in Welikanda.
Hundreds of Sudanese in protest call for ‘revolution’
KHARTOUM — Hundreds of Sudanese called for “revolution” on Monday, the second day of protests in support of four dead students originally from the conflict-plagued Darfur region. Their deaths, following a crackdown on a tuition protest at Gezira University south of Khartoum, have sparked the largest outpouring of Arab Spring-style discontent since anti-regime protests in June and July. A crowd of about 700 people came out of Nilien University, in Khartoum’s west end, shouting “Revolution until victory” and “Killing students is the killing of the nation!”, an AFP reporter witnessed.
Police responded with tear gas and some protesters were beaten with batons, he said. Some scattered into the city’s main bus terminal nearby, where several truckloads of riot police were already on standby. An AFP reporter also observed pickup trucks with plainclothes security agents in the area, the scene of violent clashes on Sunday. The main road through the bus terminal was charred from a fire which burned during Sunday’s unrest when, an AFP reporter said, six people were injured, a bus was torched, and police fired tear gas. Official radio said 47 people were detained on Sunday when hundreds protested in the area.
On Monday people also protested outside an agricultural faculty in Khartoum North, a witness said. Security forces fired tear gas and used batons against about 300 people protesting the students’ deaths, he said. The Darfur Students Association said all four had gone missing after taking part in a peaceful sit-in which was disrupted by the pro-government student union. The four died “fighting for their right to free education in the university,” their association said, blaming authorities and their “militia” for the deaths. University officials say the students drowned.
Gezira University chancellor Mohammed Warag told reporters on Monday that he and other campus administrators viewed the dead students in the morgue. “We didn’t see any injuries outside the bodies,” he said. Under a 2011 peace deal between the government and an alliance of Darfur rebel splinter factions, the offspring of people displaced by Darfur’s nine-year rebel-government conflict are supposed to get a five-year fee waiver at national universities. But Warag said the agency administering the peace deal, not the university, determines eligibility for the waiver.
The university’s dean of students, Rudwan Ahmed, said police were called last Tuesday because some participants in the sit-in forced lecturers from their classrooms and attacked laboratory technicians. He said 52 people were detained and then released. The four later found dead were not among the detainees, Ahmed said. In June and July demonstrations began at the University of Khartoum over high inflation and then spread to involve scattered protests throughout the country, calling for the fall of the 23-year regime of President Omar al-Bashir. They petered out following a security clampdown. The death of student activist Ahmed al-Qureshi in 1964 sparked the “October Revolution” which ended the military regime then in power after tens of thousands protested.
Angry Protesters Attack Iranian Consulate in Herat Over Execution of Afghans in Iran
Hundreds of angry protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in western Herat province on Sunday over the execution of Afghan nationals in Iran, local officials said. A peaceful demonstration began around 11:00AM but it turned violent with protesters attacking the Iranian consulate building and inflicting some damage, provincial security police chief of Herat Abdul Hamid Hamidi told TOLOnews.
“It’s our responsibility to protect the council. All the members of the council were safe,” he said. “We don’t have any problem with a peaceful protest, but they turned to violence,” he added. Some police officers were injured in the attempt to contain the protest. The protesters were demonstrating against Iran over the killing of Afghan nationals and asked for the “bodies of the executed” to be returned. Reports said that the demonstration took place after Iranian officials had refused to hand over the dead bodies.
Sri Lankans protest over 2 missing activists
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Hundreds of protesters have marched in Sri Lanka’s capital to demand information about two human rights activists who went missing one year ago while working in a former war zone. The two activists went missing as they were organizing a news conference for their organization, Movement for People’s Struggle, in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna district to mark international human rights day, which falls on Dec. 10.
Their colleagues accuse the military of abducting them, but the military denies the allegation. The protesters on Monday displayed photos of 29-year-old Lalith Kumar Weeraraju and 34-year-old Kugan Muruganandan. Even though Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war ended in 2009, there are lingering political tensions. Both government troops and ethnic Tamil rebels were accused of serious rights violations during the conflict.