‘Remove SLA camps from schools’ –CTTU

[TamilNet, Monday, 03 February 2003, 15:37 GMT]
The continued presence of Sri Lankan armed forces’ camps in many schools in the North-East, despite the passing of one year since the signing of the ceasefire agreement, has disrupted the education of students, and the camps should be removed immediately, said Mr. T. Mahasivam, the General Secretary of the Ceylon Tamil Teachers’ Union (CTTU), speaking at a gathering of teachers from the CTTU’s Manmunai North (Batticaloa) branch at the Mahajana college in Batticaloa today.

“The Sri Lankan government has not acted in accordance with the ceasefire agreement. Though the agreement stipulates that the armed forces should be removed from schools, the forces continue to stay in and/or in the vicinity of many schools in the North-East. The teachers are unable to teach and the students are deprived of a peaceful environment for learning,” said Mr. Mahasivam, who was the invited guest speaker at the meeting.

Mr. Mahasivam said nearly 70 schools in the North-East are under the control of armed forces. He cited many schools in Thenmaradchi, Inuvil, Konadavil, and specifically the Thellipalai Union College, where the armed forces are still staying, saying that the school falls under the High Security Zone (HSZ). The teachers and students going to the school in the morning are subjected to checks by the military before they can attend to teaching and learning. In this militarized environment, “how can there be a normal environment for students to learn?” Mr. Mahasivam asked.

Mr. Mahasivam said that the CTTU rejected allegations by the extremist elements in the South and in the Sri Lankan government that the LTTE is recruiting children under the age of 18. He said that a large number of children became orphans when the Sri Lankan armed forces killed their parents, and these children are being educated at some schools administered by the LTTE.

“Without any thought about the future of these orphaned children, the propagandists are distorting the truth and saying that these children are recruited for military training,” he said. “Such propaganda should be stopped.”

Mr. Mahasivam said that an SLA soldier who recently surrendered to the LTTE with his gun had said that he is 19, but he joined the SLA 5 years back. That shows that the SLA has recruited children under 18, but no one is pointing this out.

According to Mr. Mahasivam, the CTTU is not only raising its voice to solve problems concerning education, but it also works to bring peace and social progress. He said, “The department of education is taking teachers for granted. This is more acute in the East. Officials are engaged in retribution and taking sides. The CTTU strongly condemns such actions.”

Mr. Veeravarman of the LTTE’s educational development division, the CTTU’s president Mr.S. Thandayuthapani, administrative secretary Mr.S. Saravanapavananthan, Finance secretary Mr. S. Tharmarajan and the district secretary for Batticaloa, Mr. Murugu Thayananthan also spoke at the meeting.

 

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