“Peace on a war-footing”: Jaffna Uni teachers condemn campus closure

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  •  “University simply cannot function in these circumstances”: JUSTA
Jaffna University academics yesterday issued a blazing statement condemning the Government decision to close the Northern Campus during ‘Victory Day’ week and ban commemorations of the war dead. Issuing a press release entitled ‘In the shadow of war and peace on a war footing,’ the Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association said that while the closure notices had been issued by the University’s Vice Chancellor and Registrar, they had “evaded questions and refused to take responsibility”. “JUSTA said threatening notices had come up around the campus on 7 May. The threatening notices in the University again singled out the Dean of Arts, Prof. Sivanathan, as trying to revive the LTTE. The authorities and the Council should have condemned such crude intimidation, which strikes at the very root of a University – that the LTTE did this in its day is no excuse,” the academics said in their hard-hitting statement. “The war is part of our history and we need to talk about it frankly, not just the end of it, but about the depraved politics on all sides that sustained it for three decades and even after its close,” JUSTA said. The academics said it was the very task of a university to offer the community leadership on such questions. “But a politicised university that the authorities try to sanitise and repress cannot contribute to the task of reconciliation with dignity. This is evident in the way the University was closed,” the statement charged. JUSTA said threats to the Jaffna University were not new in the post-war period. “If the university cannot be a safe place for the exercise of freedom of speech, for dissent and debate; if faculty are afraid to teach known facts, if students are afraid to attend classes, and if rehabilitated ex-combatants are never allowed to pursue their studies but are continually detained, pressurised, or made into informers, then we are not only cheating our youth of the chance positively to change their futures, but cheating our entire society of the opportunity to transform itself for the good of all who live in Lanka,” JUSTA said. The academics said that repression and intimidation only leads to further self-censorship and silence. “This may secure acquiescence, but at the expense of the truth, which is at the heart of scientific inquiry, and of all knowledge. The university simply cannot function under these circumstances,” the statement concluded. (DB)