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Children in North fall from pan to the hearth “ Bimal

2013 Jul 23

The school children in Killinochchi, where a large number of people have been killed and eh who area has been battered by the war, have been made to fall from the pan to the hearth due to disconnection of electricity says the National Organizer of Socialist Youth Union (SYU) Bimal Rathnayaka.

Speaking at a special media conference held yesterday (21st) Mr. Rathanayake also said the government is slashing allocations for education. Electricity in many of these schools in Kilinochchi educational zone has been disconnected due to nonpayment of electricity bills. Some schools have got electricity when principals and teachers paid the electricity bills. One school in Killinochchi town had paid an electricity bill by collecting Rs.86,000 from teachers. However, President’s sons play rugby matches and hold car racing pageant under lights.

Full text:

The media conference is convened to apprise the masses, specially the youths of the country, regarding the ‘Day of Camaraderie’ to be held for the sixth year. This time the programme is held within a very special atmosphere. We commenced this programme in July, 2008 when the war was at its height, against Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communalism and against the attempts to divide the country. We commenced this programme to tell the youth that this country belongs to all of us and it is our country. We never acted with petty political interests.

When we are holding the ‘Day of Camaraderie’ this year we see special circumstances that were not present earlier.23rd July marks thirty years since the ‘Black July’ that occurred in 1983. This month also marks the beginning of the fifth year since the end of the war. It is in such an environment we hold the ‘Day of Camaraderie’ throughout the country.

The second factor is the growth of a new communal tendency that was seen in the country during the past few months. We are holding this programme when a religious extremist tendency has raised its ugly head in certain parts of the country.

The other fact is we are having this programme when a new dialogue has commenced regarding this issue with the announcement of elections to the Northern Provincial Council. Through the ‘Day of Camaraderie’ we expect to act against communal tendencies. Without limiting ourselves to a day or a month we were active throughout the past months. Even when religious extremism carried out its agenda with support of security sections, we, as the Socialist Youth Union, mediated in no uncertain terms to prevent youths from being a party to the sinister moves. We mediated as best as we could to prevent another ‘Black July’.

The best way of defeating communalism, build national unity and prevent the country from being divided is creating peace and building comradeship among Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and other communities. In short distrust that is being built between communities should be eradicated. However, the present administration acts in a manner that destroys trust and respect each community should have regarding others. This condition is seen throughout the country and could be observed in the North even four years after the war. We all know that there is a semi-military administration in the North. The governor appointed to the North is a former Army officer. Also, all activities in the North are controlled by the interference of the Army. A situation has been created so that permission has to be obtained from the nearest Army camp to hold a ceremony in a school, to have a sports meet and also to present a parcel of books to school children.

There is also the issue of seizing lands of the masses that is being discussed in the country. Interference of the Army in all matters of communal life has become a serious issue in the North. This has continued for the last four years.

The issue of fear and distrust in the North is widespread. Anyone could get arrested at any moment. During the recent past political activists were arrested. Some were disappeared. This has happened to youths. Also, names or where the youths arrested in the North during the war have not been revealed even after five years. We and other organizations too have on various occasions apprised the masses regarding this and carried out various campaigns.

It is the government that is responsible for raising the lives of people in an area that has been battered by a war. Of course, other organizations as well as individuals have some sort of responsibility. However, what is critical is that the most injustices to these people are committed by the government. One example is during the war schools in the North were destroyed. There are 52 schools in Kilinochchi educational zone. Electricity in many of these schools has been disconnected due to nonpayment of electricity bills. Some schools have got electricity when principals and teachers paid the electricity bills. One school in Killinochchi town had paid an electricity bill by collecting Rs.86,000 from teachers.

What we see now is that the government is slashing allocations for education. It is a main issue discussed by university students and their teachers. The children in areas battered by a war and a large number of people have been killed are further victimized when electricity is disconnected in schools and official residences of teachers for the inability to pay the electricity bill. However, President’s sons play rugby matches and hold car racing pageant under lights. The electricity disconnections due to non-payment of bills occur throughout the island but when it happens in Killinochchi and Jaffna the communalists interpret it as victimization and the masses too could be made to think likewise.

The second fact we see is that a social lumpenization is occurring in the North. This is happening in Colombo as well as in other parts of the country. This is what happens when the government gives priority to tourism and when the government considers it as its main source of income. However, this happens in the North rapidly and intentionally and also with the participation of certain state sections. We have already revealed that liquor bars are opened when musical shows are held in school play grounds. When having musical shows in other parts of the country no bars are allowed in school playgrounds. Every event in the North is carried out with state patronage. Blue films, liquor, prostitution are propagated in a large scale. A massive lumpenization is taking place in the North targeting its youth.

It is with responsibility we say that certain individuals of state security sections and certain state officials have said one way of Tamil youths could be ‘liberated’ from politics by getting them to involve in such vice. Hundreds of blue films were distributed in rehabilitation camps and a situation arose that ordinary people could not walk on the streets in Vavunia. As a result certain rehabilitation camps had to be withdrawn due to the opposition of villagers. First the lumpenization was carried out in rehabilitation camps. But now the whole society has been targeted.  We see this as a very serious situation. Also, a large number of people of all races migrate to Australia and other countries from the North. Most of them are youths who have been distressed due to war, unemployed and disillusioned.

Hence, we see these circumstances could create communal feelings in a new round among communities that have been battered by a 30 year war. There is a possibility that these issues could be solved or their effects minimized if the political authority in the country is interested in doing so.  Communalism cannot exist by itself. We see Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communalism as triplets. The three need each other. When Sinhalese communalists trends are created in these parts of the country Tamil communalist trends develop in areas where Tamils live. It is the same with Muslim communalism. Today the government depends on communalism to protect its power and to carry out its election campaigns. As such, the government needs another Prabakaran. Just like one generation was destroyed by war there is a tendency for communalism to raise its head again. We, as members of the Socialist Youths Union, as citizens of this country and youths have a big responsibility of saving the country and the people from this abyss.

Due to this special situation we, make use of the ‘Day of Camaraderie’ to put forward certain demands.

We ask the government to end the semi-military administration in the North and establish civil administration. The root of many a issue is here. During our programme we intend presenting computers, books and school material to schools. However, we are unable to reveal names of these schools. If we do so we would have to withdraw this programme. This is the situation in Killinochchi. It is the same in Jaffna. The schools in these areas cannot ask for assistance. They could only ask the government. This is the result of the semi-military administration.

We also demand the government to release all political prisoners. Most of these prisoners are youths. Also, a burning issue for families whose members have died in the war is the lack of ways to make their ends meet. We ask the government to pay them compensation and build houses for them.

We also ask the government to establish a state university. It should not be one of Minister S.B. Dissanayake’s degree shops. Children in these areas should be given the opportunity to have higher education. Also, a state vocational and technical university should be established in these areas. The government also should take measures to stop extremist acts carried out with the patronage of the government against Muslims.

The programme of the ‘Day of Camaraderie’ includes:

An awareness programme to be carried out on 23rd and 24th July throughout the island reminding the masses of the destruction the ‘Black July’ of 1983 created due to communalism

On 26th and 29th July books would be presented and facilities for drinking water would be provided for children of several schools in Killinochchi and Vavuniya. The objective of these acts is not simple welfare but to build friendship among Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities.

On 27th July a sports festival with the participation of all communities will be held in Vavuniya town.

On 28th July a cultural programme named ‘Platform of Camaraderie’ will be held in Vavuniya.

On 28th July an awareness programme will be held in Vavuniya District against communalism and religious extremism. We hope to prevent communalism being a main factor at the forthcoming provincial council election.

On the 29th July we will hold a ‘Rally of Camaraderie’ with the participation of leaders of the JVP.

The JVP is expected to present ‘An approach for the solution of national question’ this week. We will present this to the people in the North at the rally. We hope to carry out programmes of the ‘Day of Camaraderie’ in other parts of the country during the month of August.

Members of the National Committee of the Socialist Youth Union Marugan Morgan, Nadeeka Gamage and Mohommed Riyaz were also present.

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