2ND LEAD (Update)

Student leaders vow to step up protests in support of hunger-striking political prisoners

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 November 2017, 23:11 GMT]
The president of Jaffna University Student Union K. Krishnameenan and Secretary K. Jackson have sent an urgent appeal to SL President Maithiripala Sirisena through various offices in Colombo and Jaffna on Wednesday urging immediate response in resolving the demands of the three hunger-striking Tamil political prisoners at Anuradhapura prison. 14 days have elapsed since the student leaders met the SL President in Colombo on 19 October. Mr Sirisena had promised swift action either before the student leaders returned to Jaffna the next day or at latest on 25th of October after having consulted with SL Attorney General and SL Justice Minister who were out of the island at that time. But, nothing has happened since then. As such the student leaders are planning to step up the protest to next level, they told media on Wednesday.

The students have been boycotting classes since 20 October. Ten days later, they stepped up the protest by laying siege to the administrative offices through blocking the main entrances in the main premises of the Jaffna University on 30 October. The Teachers Union and Non-Academic Staff at the University have extended their support to the protests.

As the health situation of hunger-striking Tamil prisoners has worsened, the student leaders said they are forced to proceed to the next level of protest with the support of twenty civil, political and grassroots groups in Jaffna.

Earlier, the students of the Art Faculty were planning to stage a fast-unto-death campaign inside the University premises. The protest was cancelled after the JUSU leaders intervened.

In the meantime, the University Administration, particularly its Vice Chancellor Prof R. Vigneswaran, responded by closing down three faculties, including the Art faculty, until further notice.

The VC has also gone on record implying that he chose to shut down the faculties to dilute the student protests, the student leaders said.

The JUSU leaders have insisted in their letter Mr Sirisena should fulfil his promises without further delay.

The student leaders said they would involve the grassroots and the public in the North in staging a multi-pronged agitation.

In a separate letter issued to Tamil parliamentarians elected from North-East, the student leaders have demanded the MPs to attend a consultation meeting with the student community on Friday. Their failure to attend the meeting would be interpreted as an insult to the aspirations of the Tamil people, the student leaders said.

JUSU letter to Tamil parliamentarians
Student leaders demand Tamil parliamentarians to take part in a consultation meeting Friday at 2:00 p.m. at


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