Troubles universitaires au Sri Lanka – octobre 2010

Campus Chaos

24 10 2010

By Raisa Wickrematunge

Speaking on the frequent reports of student unrest, Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake said that everything could be resolved within two months.

Dissanayake spoke particularly of the recent Inter University Student Front protest, when students stormed the Higher Education Ministry at Ward Place. Twenty one students were later taken into custody for questioning.

“That was not such a big issue,” Dissanayake said. He added that according to information received by him, 17 of the students in custody were first year students, and claimed they had been coerced into participating in the protest.

Dissanayake said some of the students’ mothers had visited him on Monday with a letter. The first year students allegedly claimed that older students had threatened them, saying if they did not attend the protest, they could not attend classes at campus hereafter. They had also been told that they would only be handing over a special letter to the Higher Education Ministry, Dissanayake said. However, the students had then stormed the Ministry. “All 21 students had signed that letter!” Dissanayake observed. He added that the students’ parents had pleaded with the Minister to grant them a pardon and release them.

Dissanayake added that he planned to improve discipline on campus’. “Sri Jayewardenepura University used to be one of the worst,” he observed. However he added the situation on that campus had vastly improved. He also conceded that there was no democracy in the past when appointing student officials, but added that this too had improved.

Meanwhile, IUSF Convenor Udul Premaratne said that Dissanayake’s statement that the students had been coerced to storm the Higher Education Ministry was false. He said the students had taken extreme action after some fellow university students were jailed for booing Dissanayake at an event.

Student Unrest in Sri Lanka Intensifies, Vice Chancellor Attacked

24 10 2010

The vice chancellor of Sri Lanka’s University of Ruhuna, Susirith Mendis, was injured when he was allegedly attacked by a group of university students last week as he tried to intervene to settle a dispute between student groups on campus.

“I went there to disperse them, but they refused to go away,” explained Mendis to local media. “There were over 100 students near the canteen, and some students who hid behind others threw a club at me. »

Following a special council meeting Saturday, the Ruhuna University administration decided to suspend six students who are believed to have been involved in the incident, the latest in a string of student unrest at several universities in Sri Lanka.

Students and education officials have been clashing for months with the situation intensifying in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the police arrested 21 university students believed to be members of the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF) after they forcefully entered the premises of the Ministry of Higher Education.

Explaining the reason for arriving at the ministry, IUSF Convener Udul Premaratne said, “We came here to meet the authorities to have a meeting to seek the release of our colleagues who have been remanded for false reasons. »

After students tried to forcefully enter the ministry premises, a clash that erupted between the police and students of the IUSF left nearly 30 persons injured, which included as many as 10 policemen.

The “false reason” Premaratne spoke of refers to the arrest of several students from the University of Peradeniya for allegedly jeering at the education minister, S.B. Dissanayake, during a recent visit to the campus. Many students, and certain sectors of the academic faculty, say the punishment was too harsh.

Dissanayake has vowed to continue taking stern action against students who disrupt academic activities on campuses. The IUSF, meanwhile, has vowed to continue fighting what they call a violation of student rights.

~ par Alain Bertho sur 24 octobre 2010.


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