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With the determination of the government to close the Peace Secretariat prematurely, my work to shore up Human Rights became even more important, but there too we faced a problem. The IGP we had worked with was a very civilized man, but his successor Mahinda Balasuriya was dreadful and made it clear he was not interested. He transferred the excellent head of police training, Lalith Jayasinghe, and his very helpful assistant Ajith Rohana, so the handbook we were preparing was forgotten. And nothing was done about rolling out the training which I saw highlighted for the last time at the training school at Kallady I visited on one of my journeys in July.

The pictures are from the July visit to Vavuniya and the Refugee Centres

25.  Further work in the East

After seeing the hospital at Pulmuddai, we met the Divisional Secretary there to check on the situation and then visited two remote army camps which required ferry rides, marvelling at the endurance of the men posted during the war to these remote outposts. Then we had a swim at Uppuvelli Beach which I knew from happy days staying at the nearby orphanage when I looked after the English programme at the Trincomalee Affiliated University College, before I went back to Paterson Lodge.

Next morning we went on to Batticaloa where we stayed in a guest house, before a CBSM workshop the next morning. We visited the Municipal Council and the kachcheri to brief officials on what was expected from the CBSM, and I also went to the Training College, which was under-utilized because I was trying to get the President to do more about training English teachers. I had persuaded him the previous year to make this a priority, but he then appointed an old friend of his, Sunimal Fernando, who knew nothing about English or Education, to take charge of the project and nothing constructive was done.

I had an Al Jazeera interview while I was there, and then went to the Kallady Police School which was run by the seniormost officer who had participated in Scott’s workshop and seemed to be trying to roll out here the concepts he had absorbed. From there we went to the Welikanda Rehabilitation Centre and then went to the Polonnaruwa Resthouse where we all swam in the Parakrama Samudraya next to which it is situated.

I sent Felix with my security to have a look at the ruins next morning and drafted letters and a rebuttal to the Times which had produced outrageous figures about casualties based on very dubious arguments. And then after lunch we went to the Sigiriya Resthouse where Felix and my security climbed the Rock while I wrote some more.

We went for breakfast next day to the restaurant Kithsiri’s former boss had in Dambulla and I did the accounts for all these journeys while Felix and the security boys went to the caves, and then we went via the Nalanda Gedige to Ena’s for lunch. Then we went, this being Sunday, to the cottage for the night, taking in the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala on the way.

The next day in the midst of my other work at SCOPP I met the Navy Commander who was due to take over my office for a new position he was to be appointed to. Then on the Thursday I set off at 3am to get to Vavuniya, along with Jeevan, for a tour of all the camps, including the new Sumathipuram. I also went to the Nellikulam Rehabilitation Centre and then saw the GA before heading back to Colombo.

The next day I saw the Police Officers in charge of training, Lalith Jayasinghe who as Director had been extremely helpful and a youngster called Ajith Rohana who did very well later as the police spokesman, but all our plans came to naught because soon afterwards the very positive IGP was replaced by a blunderbuss called Mahinda Balasuriya who made it clear to the Minister when he was called in to talk about our initiatives that he had no time or inclination for Human Rights work.

Rajiva Wijesinha

October 2020
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