By Shaahidah Riza
US Permanent Representative to the United Nations and head of US Mission to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power said the Muslims of Jaffna had experienced ethnic cleansing even before the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ was coined.
Speaking to a gathering of students, staff and politicians at Osmaniya College, Jaffna, earlier this week, she commended the school’s efforts to house and provide refuge to recent flood victims of Jaffna.
“It was on these grounds that just over 25 years ago the Muslim community of Jaffna was gathered and told to leave their homes. The subsequent years were a very dark period in their lives. The damage, of course, was not just to buildings, like these ones, but also to people. There was great suffering, and the effects of that suffering are still being felt today. Without reliable access to schools like Osmania, a whole generation of young people suffered from limited educational opportunities. I know that this community – like the rest of Jaffna, the Northern Province, and all of Sri Lanka – are still rebuilding and recovering,” she said.
She added that with only US$ 450,000 in funding from the US, Osmania has built a new science building, repaired damaged facilities, built a new set of restrooms for boys and girls, and instituted a rainwater harvesting tank. She also said that together, these developments will enable hundreds of students to enjoy an improved education.