SLA attacks on Jaffna protesters justified, says Fonseka

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 20:52 GMT]
A "third force" in Jaffna is using peaceful demonstrations to instigate violence and therefore Sri Lanka Army (SLA) had to take defensive action, said Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, the Sri Lanka Army commander, justifying the recent attacks by the SLA soldiers on unarmed protesters in Jaffna, during a meeting between SL President Mahinda Rajapakse and TNA parliamentarians Wednesday at Temple trees, TNA sources said. The Vice Chancellor of Jaffna Campus, the Dean of the Arts Faculty and a TNA Member of Parliament were attacked, several students were injured and a lecturer received gunshot wounds when the SLA soldiers violently brokeup a peaceful demonstration near Jaffna campus Monday.

Sarath Fonseka described the actions by the Sri Lanka Army as part of an ongoing "military operation" against what he described as a third force, the sources added.

Rejecting the Sri Lankan commander's characterization of unarmed peaceful protest against military oppression as "instigating violence," and asserting that right to peaceful assembly is a fundamental right of everyone, the Tamil parliamentarians reiterated that Sri Lanka Government must take efforts to stop the violence by the soldiers before the situation gets out of control.

Although the meeting with the Sri Lankan President ended without any conclusive outcome, the parliamentarians said that they had cautioned the Sri Lankan President of the urgency of adopting a constructive approach instead of the current 'destructive' approach.

If the Government of Sri Lanka is concerned and serious about peace talks, it should acknowledge that the cause for the civilian agitation in Jaffna is the conduct of the Sri Lankan forces, the delegation told the President. The delegation pointed out the Punguduthivu incident where a twenty-year old Tamil woman, Ilayathamby Tharshini, was brutally raped and dumped into an abandoned well near a Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) camp in Punguduthivu. The act provoked protests in Jaffna.

"It is a political right to mobilise against such oppressive acts. Characterizing political mobilisation as instigating violence, would only serve to escalate the tension further," the TNA delegation told the Sri Lankan President.

The brother of SL President Rajapakse and the Secretary of Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse, Chief of Defence Staff Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri were also present at the meeting.

Sri Lankan Army commander rejected the concerns of the parliamentarians and said that the people of Jaffna were firmly behind the Sri Lanka Army and warned that his army would not tolerate protests, TNA sources said.

The TNA delegation further urged Rajapakse, his brother and the Secretary of Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse and Chief of Defence Staff Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri to dismantle the army checkpoints located close to Jaffna University.

 

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