U’grads accuse admin. of suppression to make way for SB’s plans

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The pro–JVP Socialist Students’ Union (SSU) yesterday claimed that Sabaragamuwa University administration was suppressing students to make way for Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake’s ‘sinister’ plans.

SSU Convener Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa said that so far, from 2011, 70 undergraduates had been suspended without proper reasons being given.

He said that all suspended students had been unable to sit their examinations and one of them, the former President of the Agriculture Faculty Students’ Union, had even been assaulted by government thugs.

"The university administration has started to suppress students by prohibiting all students’ unions including the Students’ Council on January 01, 2011," Dr. Jayatissa said, adding that the University Act of 1978 enabled students to form unions and stage protests.

He said that the university administration had suspended 58 undergraduates including 15 female students from Jan. 31, 2011 to March 2013.

However, students had revived the unions after protests, but the Students’ Council and all Faculty Unions had been suspended once again on March 15, 2013, Dr. Jayatissa said, adding that five students including the President and Secretary of the Students’ Council had also been suspended. "When students protest against the ban on unions and suspensions, the university administration get the police to disperse peaceful protest by firing rubber bullets and water canon, which resulted in 60 undergraduates being injured on June 01."

Police had also arrested nine students for organizing the protest and the university administration had suspended another 47 students for being involved in the protest, Dr. Jayatissa said.

He said another 17 students had been suspended on Aug. 3, and former President of the Agriculture Faculty Students’ Union brutally assaulted in a hostel.

"We demand that the academic freedom of students be ensured," Dr. Jayatissa said, adding that universities must not be run like torture chambers.

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