Students of school inside navy camp protest
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 16 July 2002, 14:42 GMT]
Hundreds of students and parents Tuesday morning blocked roads in the island of Kayts in Jaffna to protest against Sri Lanka Navy defence positions around Velanai Duraisamy Central College. The protestors sat across roads at Saravanai Junction, Vankalavadi Junction and Velanai Bus Company Junction from early morning. The Duraisamy Central College is inside the SLN base in Velanai.
Colombo promised to vacate schools occupied by its security forces in the Northeastern province under the cease-fire agreement it signed with the Liberation Tigers in February.
The SLN was encamped in the Velanai Duraisamy Central College from 1992. Troops vacated the school’s buildings on 9 July in terms of the cease-fire agreement. However, the college still remains inside the SLN base.
The Navy opens the access road to the school only twice during the day – at 8.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. to let students and teachers in and out of the camp. The Navy does not permit parents to visit the school.
Parents and students say that the school should be accessible to everyone at all times during the day. “Our children are at risk inside the camp. They are scared to be there”, a spokesman for the protesting parents said.
Navy troopers attempted to break up the protest at Vankalavadi Junction around 9 a.m. Students and parents said the SLN troopers cocked their rifles and threatened them. A bitter altercation erupted when students stopped Navy troopers who were taking photographs of the protestors. The problem was later resolved through mediation by the Police.