Troops move amid protesting students

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 June 2001, 12:42 GMT]
batti_univ_demo_3_190601.jpgMore than five hundred undergraduates of the Eastern University held a protest demonstration Tuesday morning demanding the release of one of their colleagues who was arrested and detained by the Sri Lanka army in Vavuniya last Friday 15 June and objecting to the military entering and searching the campus on 14 June. Students stood on either side of the highway carrying placards and crying slogans as Sri Lanka army soldiers who had arrived in an armoured vehicle stood at the main entrance of the university.

"We should have the right to life and self respect. We are demanding that draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations which deny us our basic human dignity and our fundamental rights should be abolished," said a spokesman for the protesting students.

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The students held a brief meeting on the campus grounds around 11.30 a.m. after the protest demonstration. Irate and angry SLA soldiers entered the campus with heavy weapons and walked amidst students who were seated on the ground, listening to colleagues who addressed them.

Students said that they did not protest against the soldiers entering the campus without due permission of the Vice Chancellor and walking in their midst with weapons to avert retaliation.

"The military is systematically trying to escalate friction with us with the aim of suppressing the Eastern University", a spokesperson for the protesting students said.

The Eastern University is 18 kilometres north of Batticaloa.

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