A defiant death

A young boy from Jaffna takes his life to highlight the plight of Tamil political prisoners:

Funeral of 18-year-old Rajeswaran Senthuran in Jaffna

Despite assurances by the Attorney General’s Department of the swift release and rehabilitation of detained Tamil prisoners, several remain behind bars with no conclusive dates of their release.

The AG’s Department said that it would complete formalities to release a batch of Tamil prisoners who were detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. A decision to release 20 such prisoners was taken last week in consultation with Minister of Prisons Reforms D. M. Swaminathan.

Schools in NP

Most schools in the Northern Province remained closed on Friday (27) following a directive by the Minister of Education in Northern Province T. Kurukularasa, out of fear that the commiting of suicide by a young schoolboy to protest against government inaction to release the Tamil political prisoners might cause unrest among fellow students.

The last rites of the 18-year-old schoolboy Rajeshwaran Senthuran, who took his life by jumping in front of a moving train was also held on the same day. Police had reportedly found a letter in the boy’s home, calling for the release of Tamil political prisoners.

The teenager is a student of the Kokkuvil Hindu College and had written to President Maihripala Sirisena to release and rehabilitate all political prisoners. The TNA said it was deeply shocked and saddened by the death of the schoolboy.

Oppoition Leader R. Sampanthan and Mavai Senathirajah in a release had stated that they were saddened by the death of the youth.

Maaveerar Naal

Commemorating Maaveerar Naal in the University of Jaffna

Despite attempts by police to clampdown on Maaveerar Naal ( a remembrance day observed by Sri Lankan Tamil people to remember the deaths of militants who fought for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which fell on November 27, the event was held at the Jaffna University, including a vigil that brought together lecturers and students.

Earlier during the week, Police Spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekera said that stern action would be taken against individuals who commemorate the birthday of the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran which falls on the day before Maaveerar Nal. He added that it was against the law to commemorate the LTTE dead, as the organization was designated as a ‘terrorist’ organization.

It was also reported that police were attempting to trace those responsible for pasting posters calling on fellow students of the Jaffna university and citizens in the Northern Province to join the memorial.

Members of the Northern Provincial Council, led by Councillor M. Shivajilingam had also gathered to pray at the Nallur temple and the Gurunagar St. Mary’s Church to light candles. He had told the media that the public should be allowed to commemorate the Tamils who were killed in the war.

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court permitted two pro-Tamil outfits to hold meetings to commemorate Maaraverar Naal at Kolathur in Salem District and at Palanisamy grounds in Alamoor today(29), the Press Trust of India reported.

The judge, while quoting earlier orders passed by the Madras High Court on similar petitions, said that the Tamil Nadu Police Act was only regulatory in nature and there cannot be a blanket prohibition on any meeting.