Military intimidation of relief workers escalate in Amparai, Batticaloa - TRO

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 12 January 2005, 08:26 GMT]
The Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) in an urgent press statement issued on Wednesday morning said that the intimidation of relief workers by the Sri Lankan Special Task Force (STF) has been escalating in several welfare centres in Batticaloa and Amparai. "The positive relief efforts coordinated by the TRO after the recent devastation are being severely disrupted due to recent STF intervention in the East" said the press release. The organisation said it is in the process of documenting incident reports as they continue to arise.

TRO has urged Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) to seek clarification via the Centre for National Operations (CNO) the exact nature of instructions issued to the special task force.

Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga, in a sudden move, appointed senior officers of the Sri Lankan Army to coordinate the relief efforts in their respective districts on January 04th. Sri Lankan state forces comprise 99% Sinhalese.

Full text of the TRO press release follows:

STF INTIMIDATES TRO STAFF IN WELFARE CAMPS

The positive relief efforts coordinated by the TRO after the recent devastation are being severely disrupted due to recent STF intervention in the East.

On the 10/1/2005 about 6pm the STF entered Kalmunai NeelavaniVidyalaya. They intimidated TRO staff into taking them to the aid store room, and threatened them into handing over the key. Important information collected at the camps regarding the distribution of relief items was also demanded.

The next day they entered the rental home of the TRO volunteers and employees in charge of Pandimppu Maha Vidyalaya camp. The owner of the house was harassed for housing the TRO volunteers and has now been warned to vacate the premises for the use of STF. The owner is now very apprehensive about housing TRO volunteers, and thus the volunteers have found themselves homeless and are seeking to stop this harassment.

These problems have been escalating in several welfare centres in Batticaloa and Amparai. TRO is in the process of documenting incident reports as they continue to arise.

This situation now threatens the stability of these camps and the welfare of victims of the recent devastation. TRO’s relief efforts are highly coordinated and streamlined to meet the unique needs of victims, and this present situation threatens the management and normalcy of these camps.

TRO is seeking clarification from CHA/CNO the exact nature of instructions issued to the special task force.

 

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