University of Jaffna Alumni Association Colombo Chapter laments clashes

Friday, 22 July 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The University of Jaffna Alumni Association Colombo Chapter has expressed its sadness over recent clashes among its students and has called for greater reconciliation and unity.

Following is the full text of the message issued by President Kingsley Bernard, Secretary M.B. Dissanayake and Treasurer G.M.K. Bandara.

The University of Jaffna, or the Jaffna Campus of the University of Sri Lanka as it was then known, was inaugurated in October 1974, by then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. Since then it has remained a national symbol for peace and harmony among people of different faith and ethnic origin. 

Except for a period following the very unfortunate incidents of 1977 which resulted in a temporary but unavoidable seizing of full functionality, the University has remained a fertile ground for proven and fruitful initiatives in national reconciliation. Having stood the test of time despite many attempts to destabilize the peaceful co-existence of a large community of undergraduates coming from all corners of the Island this institution has remained a model for others to emulate.

We belong to the same community. The only difference being that we were the pioneers. We were there in the very beginning when times were more difficult and many expected a fallout to originate from within the university community. It is with great pride and admiration of all members of the university community that we note, collectively and working in harmony, we were successful in easing of tensions and were able to ride over very difficult and trying situations.

In this backdrop we are very saddened on hearing of the recent events occurring within the campus resulting in its temporary closure. We are saddened because it appears to be a case of (irresponsible behavior) misunderstanding on the part of one or more sections of the student community which apparently led to the unfortunate incidents leading to the temporary closure.

We had the experience of many, somewhat similar issues during the time of our stay on campus, when tempers flared high, tension was fever pitch and even the authorities were worried that things may get out of hand and a calamity may precipitate. But such was not to be. Sanity prevailed and thanks to the presence of mind of members from within the university community itself, coming from a multitude of cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, managed to intervene in the nick of time to diffuse tension and avoid any major incident. 

Even in the face of attempts, mainly by outside parties, to blow things out of proportion the truth was that no major incident occurred. For a community so diverse it was indeed an admirable achievement. It is admirable for the single reason of avoiding the possible spillover of tension into society at large.

The need of the hour is reconciliation and harmony among all people who belong to this beautiful island and this university where all communities meet should continue to be a role model to be emulated by others. We therefore appeal all parties who are in any way involved, to act responsibly, honour and respect each other’s beliefs, develop tolerance and appreciation for the unique cultural heritage of the different communities and learn to co-exist in peace and harmony. Following long years of civil strife which at times threatened to ruin the country, it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure we do nothing to disrupt the blossoming opportunity for prosperity via harmonious co-existence.