Saturday, June 23, 2012

FUTA calls on people to resist repression ‘Govt. is testing our patience’


by Harischandra Gunaratna

The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) yesterday condemned the ‘repressive and intimidating tactics’ of the government and vowed that it would not allow the democratic rights of the people to be taken away.

FUTA president Dr. Nirmal Devasiri said that the members of the association would launch an indefinite strike commencing on July 4 and it would be based on six demands.

Addressing a news conference in Colombo Dr. Devasiri was critical of the Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake’s conduct which, he said, was unbecoming of a person in charge of Higher Education.

Responding to a question on whether he believed that the police could trace those who had attempted to intimidate him and his daughter, Dr. Devasiri said it was not an issue that they could tackle, noting that the police were powerless as the elements involved in such incidents operated with impunity.

"The government is testing our patience," the FUTA chief said.

The FUTA President said that some persons had visited his neighbourhood claiming to be from the Defence Ministry on Thursday and inquired about his daughter and him. They had said that his daughter had applied for a job at the Defence Ministry and also that she had been trying to go overseas.

Dr. Devasiri said that his daughter was just studying for her GCE (Advanced Level) and had never sought employment at the Defence

Ministry or tried to go overseas. A complaint had been lodged with the Maharagama police, he said.

Ven. Dambara Amila Thera said that the time had come people to rise as one against government repression. He said collective action by the public, the media with effective editorials revealing the truth and civic-minded organisations launching a relentless campaign demanding the arrest of Julampitiye Amare, who was moving freely after allegedly killing two persons, had finally forced him to surrender.

Ven. Amila stressed that if the masses acted as one against the repressive action of the ruling party, the government would not be able to continue with such action for long.

Prof. Asanga Tillakaratne said that in Sri Lanka education had become a lucrative business and the domain of the privileged and powerful. The authorities should not leave education in the hands of those who were intent on profit making, he said. "Even Harvard is a private institution but it is not a profit making one," he said.

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