| A statement issued by the NfR – Net working for rights in Sri Lanka -Exile network for media and human rights in Sri Lanka
(October 18, Geneva, Sri Lanka Guardian) Networking for Rights is deeply concerned that the assault on Jaffna Student Leader, Subramaniam Thevapalasingham is a further erosion of the democratic rights of the people of Sri Lanka. Thavapalasigham is reported to have been attacked with iron rods and is presently receiving treatment at the Jaffna Hospital. Thavapalsingham has sustained injuries to his head.
While his assailants have so far not been identified, former MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam has told the BBC that Thavapalsingham suspects the military to be behind the attack as he had been under threat since his election as student leader. According to the Daily Mirror, Thavapalasingham is reported to have claimed that his assailants had asked him whether he wanted a separate state, while assaulting him. Meanwhile the State run Lankapuwath news Agency attributes the assault to a student dispute.
Thavapalasingham has been playing a prominent role in mobilizing students to protest the spate of “grease-devil” incidents that have caused fear amongst the people of late.
According to TamilNet, this is the third such attack; the first two being the attempt on Ramesh, the present chairman of the Valikaamam East Piratheasa Chapai (PS) and the assault on the Udayan Chief Editor Gnanasundaram Kuganathan.
Harassment and intimidation of civilians has become a way of life in Sri Lanka, and in the past several years the numbers of incidents have escalated in all parts of the country. It is the right of all civilians to mobilize and participate in peaceful protests; that is the hallmark of a truly democratic country. However, the opposite is true in Sri Lanka, where any attempt by civilians to voice their concerns, or the media to raise any issue is met with some form of brutality. It is an indication of an administration which resorts to undemocratic methods to suppress freedom of expression and dissent and enables other unruly elements to take the law into their own hands. Merely conducting elections does not ensure democracy; rather it is the respect for the rule of law and rights of citizens to voice their concerns that make a true democracy.
Networking for Rights reiterates its call that while civilians are protected and their right to dissent is upheld, that a genuine and speedy inquiry is held into Thavapalasighams assault and the culprits brought to book.