Academics, clergy and members of the public want the Police and military banned from entering the premises of the Jaffna campus, including the student hostels. If they insisted on visiting the campus, they should seek the permission of the university authorities. Two separate letters and a statement to this effect were issued last week. Writing to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA) warned that “dragging innocent students through police stations and cells – as in the 1970s and 1980s – would harden them and breed contempt for the law and its enforcers.” “Where there should be trust and co-operation, there is fear, resentment and then defiance,” the association said. “Surely, we do not want the consequences of that again.” In a separate communication, members of the clergy and the public expressed concern that Jaffna University students had been arrested for campaigning against alleged Army human rights violations. Describing the arrests as “baseless and politically motivated”, 121 persons, some representing organisations, signed a document urging the Government to release the students, as there was no clear evidence of wrong-doing. They also demanded legal assistance and family visits for the detainees and an assurance that the students in custody would be treated well. The statement was signed by religious leaders, including the Roman Catholic bishops of Mannar, Jaffna, Anuradhapura, Galle and Kurunegala. Jaffna University students were boycotting classes to protest these arrests and “acts of intimidation and attacks carried out by the Army,” the statement pointed out, adding that many students had left their hostels, fearing further assaults or arrest.]]>

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