In a situation brief released today titled “Student killings, Aava gang and the Securitisation of Jaffna”, the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research (ACPR) raised alarm at the Sri Lankan government’s “failure to meaningfully confront systemic policing and military intelligence issues that have once again been brought to the forefront by the recent killings of two Jaffna University students by police.”
ACPR notes that rather than focus on addressing the systemic security reform required that was highlighted by the killings of Sulakshan and Kajan, the government has instead chosen to arrest dozens of individuals under the PTA, for allegedly being involved with the ‘Aava’ gang. ACPR questions the “resurgence” of the Aava gang, almost two years after most of their members were arrested, particularly in light of evidence linking the Aava gang to military intelligence.
Analyzing events over recent weeks, ACPR expresses concern that the ““Aava” gang resurgence is being inter alia used by the military in the North to crackdown on Tamil activism and mobilization by creating a climate of fear that is conveniently timed for the lead-up to Maveerar Naal, which annually sees a more visible military presence in the North-East.”
Writing on the recent arrests of dozens of individuals alleged to be involved with Aava under the PTA by the TID, ACPR notes that, “the active use of the PTA to arrest individuals for ordinary crimes is contrary to the promise made by the Government to the UN Human Rights Council and to its own citizens that the PTA will be repealed.”
“ACPR believes that the manner in which the Aava gang issue is being handled by the Government seeks to further strengthen the national security apparatus in the Tamil majority areas of Sri Lanka. Either the Government is actively allowing the security apparatus to further this agenda of securitisation or lacks the political will to contain the security apparatus,” the situation brief states.
The situation brief concludes by making a series of demands of the government including that they put an end to the use of the PTA to address gang violence in Jaffna, openly address the security sector’s involvement with Aava, undertake security sector reform of police and military structures, dismantle military intelligence structures, address the demands made by Jaffna university students in their October 24 petition and demilitarize the North-East.