Colombo, Education, Peace and Conflict, Post-War, Youth

A turn for the worse? Undergraduate protests and unrest in Sri Lanka

View Student unrest in Sri Lanka in a larger map.

Recent months in Sri Lanka have seen a dramatic increase in the number of protests involving thousands of university students, many of which have turned violent. An online poll by the Daily Mirror has, out of 795 votes to date, 79% agreeing that the involvement of university students in politics has far exceeded limits and needs to be curtailed. Some University lecturers have also found fault with themselves for the growing unrest. As leading regional media has noted,

Like the Left in India, the Marxist Janatha Vimukti Peramuna (JVP), or the People’s Liberation Front here has a strong student base in universities. Now, the government has accused it of trying to exploit that support – through the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF) – to whip up a students’ unrest, a wave of which has engulfed six of the 15 major universities. Vice-chancellors were assaulted; students have fought among themselves; exams disrupted and campus property destroyed. Nearly 200 undergraduates were suspended. Earlier in October, hundreds besieged the higher education ministry office, demanding the release of six students arrested earlier. Then the riot police took over and 18 more were detained.

Student unrest brings back memories of JVP insurgencies, Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times

Vikalpa captured these images at recent demonstrations in Colombo by undergrads protesting the lack of job opportunities (first set) and against the Vice-Chancellor of the Sri Jayawardhanapura University, recently embroiled in a bizarre controversy that has clearly incensed sections of the student body.

  • Sampath Samarakoon

    Exalant Work..

  • justitia

    A large number of photos of buddhist monks who presumably university students, but few photos of students who are not monks and who surely outnumber the former many times. Why? I am puzzled. All the monks appear well nourished, though they have only one meal daily – I presume – according to their code – and all with full grown heads of hair – though I remember all bhikkus in the past had fully shaven heads, also according to their code of living. Occasional large poster photos of the president are visible.
    It was reported elsewhere that 75% of student monks quit their robes and join the laity after graduation and employment.
    If they are members of the Peoples Liberation Front, from what do they wish to be ‘liberated’?
    All students forget that they get entirely free university education unlike in other countries, and should study and qualify with the facilities available, though these may be inadequate. This is their duty towards their parents who support them and sacrifice on behalf of them.
    The shocking behaviour of assaulting their teachers and damaging state property cannot be condoned.
    Politics must be banned from universities.

  • P.L.J.B.Palipana

    We foresaw that situation and asked MR and Regime to apply strict PRUNING techniques to the existing economy. The savings could be easily applied to the upliftment of the EDUCATION & HEALTH. But what is doing actually this REGIME.They are destroying our country using un-neccassary elections, highly corrupted Chinese funded projects with high annual interest rates,the Destruction of the reputation of the Foreign policy ete…ete…This REGIME can’t even understand what is really happening in the Global & Regional Geo Polity. They can’t understand what is the re-conciliation following the 30 years of war. In conclusion this Regime is an old ship with out a rudder and going without a proper direction. This stupid Regime should be changed for the benefit of the entire NATION.