Jaffna University students on Friday condemned ITAK leaders, particularly M.A. Sumanthiran and Mavai Senathirajah for evading a crucial meeting at Jaffna University in which they were supposed to articulate and take a common responsibility of taking forward the struggle on behalf of the political prisoners before the students urged the hunger-striking political prisoners to abandon their fast unto death. Each of the three hunger-strikers have gone down in weight by 12 to 17 kg and their pulse was slow, the blood pressure has fallen and their body parts could be permanently impaired as their hunger-strike reached 37th day. Heated arguments ensued between the student leaders and NPC Councillor M.K. Shivajilingam who has been trying to negotiate and advance an appeal process in the Court of Appeal in Colombo instead of making it a political struggle with principled demands.
On Friday, ITAK parliamentarians, particularly M.A. Sumanthiran and Mavai Senathirajah failed to attend the meeting with the student community. The students numbering between 300 and 400 were waiting for a transparent and open discussion with Mr Sumanthiran. The ITAK leaders not only disappointed the students but have ridiculed the struggle of the political prisoners, the student leaders told media.
In the meantime, ITAK parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran who took part in the opening ceremony of Kudaththanai Government Tamil Mixed School on Thursday went on record stating that the only means available was a legal (appeal) process. Sumanthiran was also saying that he would have taken up the appeal process had the prisoners or their families approached him to appear on behalf of them in advancing their appeal case. At the same time, he was also saying that the process would be time consuming as it could take at least 12 or 18 months to get a judgement on the appeal case. Now, the SL Attorney General may refuse to do anything before the appeal has been processed, he said downplaying everything that didn’t proceed through him.
Mr Shivajilingam said he was facilitating an appeal case while dealing with SL President through SL Governor of North Reginal Cooray.
Why did Mr Sumanthiran wait to ‘clarify’ his position until both the hunger-strike and the legal process regarding the prisoners' demands reached a blind-end and why did he not reveal his position and details of the meeting he had with Attorney General and SL President earlier, was a question being asked by student leaders and the grassroots in Jaffna.
Most of all, the ITAK has been blamed of deceiving the political prisoners and the Tamil people by failing to be part of a coordinated effort, the student leaders said.
Shivajilingam has also come under fire on whose advice he chose to direct the prisoners to file an appeal in the Court of Appeal.
EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda, an elected MP, EPRLF parliamentarian Sivasakthi Anandan and Angayan Ramanathan, a national list MP of Maithiripala Sirisena’s SLFP attended the meeting with students along with Mr Shivajilingam and Kandiah Sarweswaran, the minister of education of Northern Provincial Council.
Representatives of civil groups also took part in the meeting with the students. Political observers in Jaffna said the people were with students to gear a powerful political effort towards a principled political solution to free the political prisoners.