NGO official suspects government intentions

[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 May 1999, 21:59 GMT]
Ervin Bulathsinhala, the Secretary General of the Sri Lanka Red Cross, saidat a press conference today that the Red Cross needed the assistance of the government, the public and the mass media in order to carry out its humanitarian work.

Mr Bulathsinhala addressed the media at the Colombo Orient Hotel this morning following the arrest of a SLRC officer, Mr Sivananthan Kishore in Vavuniya.

He said that an entire organisation cannot be held responsible if one of its officials is interrogated on suspicion of having committed an offence. If a soldier is suspected of an offence the whole army cannot be blamed, Mr Bulathsinhala said.

Red Cross drivers have been arrested by the SLA in the past but none of the allegations against them have been proved and they were not found guilty, Mr Bulathsinhala pointed out.

Mr Bulathsinhala said that the SLRC was functioning in the North east of the country to provide assistance to the government in carrying out its duties. The government cannot fulfil its duty to provide essential goods for people living in the Vanni for security reasons and so the SLRC conducts a transport service between the SLA and LTTE held areas of the Vanni, he said.

"SLRC in Vavuniya has to transport everything from exercise books to question papers for the students between the two areas. This is done to assist the government," he said.

The government has taken this opportunity to misrepresent our organisation through news reports in print and electronic media, he said, referring to recent reports in the state press on the arrest of Sivananthan Kishore.

"Siavanathan Kishore is a good hard worker. He is capable of holding the post as branch secretary," Mr. Bulathsinhala said.

The government's media attack on the SLRC raised suspicion that the government was planning to ammend laws relating to the activities of non-governmental organisations in the country, said Mr. Bulathsinhala.


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