Trinco NGOs object to chauvinist official

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 April 2001, 10:13 GMT]
A spokesman for Non Government Organisations in Trincomalee said Wednesday that the instruction issued by the Governor of the Northeastern province Maj.Gen. (Ret.) Asoka Jayawardena that all NGO in this eastern district should not function without the Government Agent's authority is a step to restrict and interfere in their activities under the guise of monitoring their rehabilitation and development works. "The Sri Lankan government has generally neglected reconstruction, rehabilitation and development work for more than a decade in the Tamil areas of the district. The NGOs have tried to fill this gap in a very limited way despite restrictions on their work. Getting the GA, whose Sinhala chauvinist proclivities are only too well known, to supervise our work is an insidious tactic to further undermine the Tamil areas of Trincomalee", added the spokesman.

ìCertainly we would not yield to this pressure under any circumstances,î said an official of the Consortium of the Non-Governmental Organisations in Trincomalee district. ìThere is no need for this instruction by the Governor at this juncture because the Trincomalee Districtís Co-ordinating Officer, Maj.Gen. Gamini Hettiaratchi (General Officer Commanding of the Sri Lanka armyís 22 Division) monitors the activities of all NGOs in the district by holding routine conferences at its headquartersî the official added.

At the last meeting the Trincomalee District Co-ordinating Committee, the Northeast Governor issued a verbal instruction that in future all non-governmental organisations should function in the district under the Trincomalee Government Agentís authorityî. The Government Agent Mr. S. D. Chandradasa was present at that time.

ìEven all local non-governmental organisations should formulate their development and rehabilitation programs in advance and should obtain necessary permission from the Government Agentî, the Governor told the meeting.

Tamil sources feel that involving Government Agent in the NGOs activities in Trincomalee district would do harm to the Tamil population. Tamil political leaders in Trincomalee say Mr. Chandradasa who has worked as the Government Agent of the district for more than six years is a Sinhala chauvinist. They charge that he has systematically manoeuvred over the years to undermine the Tamils in the district. The Sri Lankan government, however, has preferred to extend his service in Trincomalee.

ìThere have been complaints in other districts that some NGOs have obtained money from funding agencies by showing work done by others as their own. I want all NGOs in Trincomalee district to work with the Government Agent to prevent such irregularities,î the Governor said, explaining his decision to bring Trincomalee NGOs under the GAís scrutiny.

ìAlthough the Governor has given reasons for his instruction, it would lead to interference in the activities of NGOs in the district as most of the rehabilitation and development projects are carried out in Tamil areas. The majority of the beneficiaries of NGO projects in the Trincomalee district are Tamilsî, said an official of a leading local NGO.

There are 38 non-governmental organisations working in the Trincomalee district. Seven of these are international non-governmental organisations such as International Committee of the Red Cross, UNHCR, UNICEF, OXFAM and CARE INTERNATIONAL.

 

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