allegedly hijacking food convoys
By Asif Fuard
JVP activists wearing red t-shirts, red caps and
badges – with the words 'JVP relief services force', the JVP
star symbol and in the center of which is a red cross – were
seen collecting goods and medical items to be distributed among
volunteers are operating mainly in southern areas such as Galle,
Matara, Hambantota and Tissamaharama. According to reports, the
displaced people are unaware that some of the food items and medicines
given to them by JVP volunteers have been allegedly 'hijacked' from
relief convoys sent by various groups.
is alleged some vehicles carrying relief were redirected into JVP
stores. In one case, vehicles were diverted to the New Imasha film
hall in the Hambantota town, instead of a Government store 5 km
away. New Imasha film hall owner Nimal Kularatne said he did not
know that the JVP was this food storage point for alleged political
am also doing relief work for tsunami victims. Some people calling
themselves Sahana Seva Balakaya asked for my theatre to set up a
medical centre. I did not know that the JVP was behind this and
party members would put up banners all round my film hall,"
Kularatne said they wanted the hall for five days but were now staying
on longer and he had heard some were watching films also in the
theatre. At this film hall we saw vehicles from JVP collecting centres
were coming and storing goods.
of the vehicles belong to ministries of JVP members, but they now
carried JVP banners. A resident alleged that aid lorries coming
from Matale to Hambantota were stopped JVPers and the drivers were
told to put up JVP banners. If they refused, the drivers were assaulted
and the vehicles hijacked.
the Ministerial vehicles used by the JVP were a bus bearing number
JK-0194, tractors bearing numbers 49-6145 and 49-9623 and a lorry
bearing number 253-3506. Despite the JVP having several collection
centres and warehouses, we found that several refugee camps did
not receive aid from the JVP relief service force but from other
JVP-run Tissamaharama Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman's coordinating secretary,
S. Seneviratne, said 200 houses were being builts and would be completed
within the next few days to give shelter to the displaced people
and stocks would also be given to them.
Sunday Times has also received reports, which say the JVP is trying
to be the sole relief group by preventing others providing help
and aid. With the JVP apparently trying to monopolise aid distribution
in the south, a serious incident also took place at Goddauda in
Dickwella, with JVP allegedly asking the army to withdraw from a
Deepal Gunesekara siad besides members from the south, hundreds
of JVPers from districts not affected by the tsunami had volunteered
to work in the south. He said the party was operating some 12 medical
centres for the refugees and 30 centres to collect goods in Hambantota.
said party workers had cleared the rubble and would now start building
houses for the fisher folk. At a time such as this when our brothers
and sisters have come forward to re build our country we have kept
politics aside and have stepped out to serve the affected people
in their time of need," Mr. Gunasekara said.
Refugees shattered, receiving little or no aid
The displaced people in the eastern province are also
facing a situation similar to the one faced by those living in refugee
centers in the south. Even here the JVP is reportedly diverting
food relief convoys to locations specified by them, instead of allowing
them to be unloaded at government authorised centres.
JVP volunteers wearing red shirts and red caps were seen to be involved
in relief activities in refugee camps set up at the Jayasumanaramaya
in the Trincomalee town which houses most of the refugees from Sirimapura
and Abhayaramaya. Sirimapura a fishing village was washed away by
the killer tidal waves. Some of the refugees said they are yet to
receive food, clothing or soap even after several days in the camp.
refugees held the JVP responsible for this situation charging that
the needy were receiving little or no aid while those not in need
received most of the benefits. It was sad and unfortunate to see
refugees desperately queuing up for food being ignored when close
by several three wheelers were seen nonchalantly transporting food
were sent by Trinco district MP Jayantha Wijesekera here. We refute
the charges made against us as false. We are doing a solo job and
no state help comes here. The government must intervene or soon
these relief measures will cease. All we need to do therefore is
to save whatever relief we get now", Indika Priyadharshana,
a JVP relief worker said.
Sooriyagoda Piyananda Thera the viharadhdidpathi of the Sooriyaramaya
temple who had brought relief items from Galenbindunuwewa confirmed
the allegations leveled against the JVP. "These people are
trying to boost their image and are not interested in real relief
work. What we brought here too has been spirited away by outside
elements in our very presence. People are disenchanted with this
type of relief work", the Thera said.
Solidarity Conference, Sri Lanka branch joint patron Rev. Mahagalkadawala
Punyasara Thera was emotionally moved when he said:
relief that should be given to the refugees are getting into wrong
hands and we ourselves saw it happen. Some refugees unable to see
this display of selfishness are giving away their meals to other
more deserving victims. Both organisations are attempting to boost
their image and we decry this mentality".
relief organisation from the Wayamba said the JVP took over the
distribution of the relief items they donated. This organisation
said that if they had earlier known about this JVP interference
they would have not brought the relief items there in the first
matters were highlighted at a provinicial council meeting held on
January 4 at Wayamba where SLFPers of the Sandhanaya and Oppositon
UNPers condemned this attitude by the JVP.