Statement from Human Rights Critic Marston on arrest of students in Jaffna, Sri Lanka

The Official Opposition calls on the government of Canada to work with the international community to pressure the government of Sri Lanka to promptly release the students recently arrested in Jaffna. P. Tharshananth, Sanmugam Solaman, Kanesamoorthy Sutharsan and K. Jenemajeyamenan were arrested without warrants, and in the absence of clear evidence linking them to any alleged crime.

On 27 November security forces broke up a lamp lighting ceremony at the women’s hostel at Jaffna University, reportedly breaking lamps, threatening students and pointing weapons at them. The following day students responded with a silent protest and short march and held placards denouncing the restrictions on freedom of expression. At least 20 undergraduates were injured and beaten by riot police and officers in civilian dress.

New Democrats believe that freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the principles of fundamental justice are basic human rights. The Government of Sri Lanka must secure these rights for the entire population. The Sri Lankan Government must ensure an end to attacks by security forces against students and peaceful demonstrators and ensure those responsible are brought to justice.