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INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA

sri lanka Army terrorises
another Jaffna school

  • Tamil Information Monthly, 15 November 1984

Schools in Tamil areas in Sri Lanka, particularly Jaffna, today function in a state of fear. Some schools like Hartley College, Point Pedro, and Methodist Girls School, Point Pedro, did not even function for a long time following the burning of the Hartley College library and, part of the buildings by Police Commandos and indiscriminate attacks on students by armed forces.

Another school which became the victim of terrorism by government armed forces recently is St. Henry's College, Illavalai. On the morning of 17th October the army was stationed near the school, checking the national Identity cards of all going along the road including the students and staff while they were on their way to school.

Suddenly at about 11.20 a.m. a barrage of gun shots pierced the school walls and blackboards. The hail of bullets traced a oath through the rows of students and passed by the head of the teacher and struck the blackboard. It was a miracle that none of the students or the teachers was hit. The trail of bullets struck the blackboard as on a bulls eye on a practice target. The blackboard which forms part of the wall was found to be pierced for a depth of 8-12 inches at several places. Itwas a narrow escape for both the students and the teachers. A Rev. Sister who was conducting a class upstairs which is close to the main road also narrowly escaped. The bullet from which the Rev. Sister escaped can be seen on the wall. The firing continued for more than forty five minutes. Shots were fired round the premises: On hearing the gun shots the students and teachers ran for their lives. As a result of the stampede some injured themselves, breaking their legs and hands.

Armed soldiers thereafter broke open the School gate and the Rector walked up to the soldiers and told them that the school was in session and not to create any disturbances. Thereupon the Rector was ordered into a armoured car at gun point. The armoured car with the Rector inside was taken inside the school area pasing several class rooms. While approaching the Science laboratory some teachers and students inside the lab raised their voices and told the Fr. Rector of their presence inside. The soldiers thereupon pushed open the door and asked the teachers and students to march out raising their hands. One soldier suggested that they should all be taken to the army camp. But Rev. Fr. Rector pleaded with them and as a result they were asked to remain in the staff room until further notice.

Another group of soldiers who came in another armoured car rushed into the staff room. The teachers and students were ordered to stand still in a row and raise the hands. "Shall we shoot them all" asked one soldier. The teachers stood petrified and some of them started mumbling their last prayers. Another soldier wanted to know whether anybody among them knew Sinhala. He asked one teacher who said he knew a little Sinhala whether any one had run out of the room. The teacher said no. Thereupon the soldier manhandled him saying that he was telling. a lie. Simultaneously, four students were assaulted with the butt end of a gun below the knee.

Another set of teachers including women teachers were with the students in the middle school, about a hundred yards away from the main block. On hearing the repeated gun shots they ran upstairs for shelter. Some soldiers rushed in there, harassed and terrorised them also.

The staff and students ultimately left in fear by 2.30 p.m. None of the students including hostelers had gone back to school for nearly ten days after the incident. The Teachers Guild of St. Henry's College has sent a formal protest to the Director of Education, Colombo.

 
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