Why I visited Sri Lanka: Statement of Charles Antonidas

A number of people, representing various groups from six countries, visited Sri Lanka. Charles Antonidas, one of the visitors, has produced a statement on the purpose of the visit for Tamil Solidarity.

Here we publish Charles Antonidas’ statement. We will post more information soon.

 Statement of Charles Antonidas

 Nine of us made a fact finding visit to some parts of Sri Lanka recently. They were there from 14th-20th June 2010.

 The objectives of the visit were to:

1.        Review the current conditions in IDP camps;

2.        Review the conditions of the camps of the rehabilitees;

3.        Review any ongoing relief /rehabilitation activities;

4.        Appraise the procedures that have been laid down by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) for humanitarian organisations to provide facilities and support to the IDPs and the rehabilitees;

5.        Appraise any support that government administrations at district and divisional levels could provide to facilitate delivery of rehabilitation efforts from the Tamil Diaspora. 

 During this stay, the delegates had discussions with Mr Selvarasa Pathmanathan and were taken to meet Mr Gothabaya Rajapakse and the Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Pieris. They requested permission to visit the above camps and some sites where rehabilitation work is being carried out. Visits to these places were arranged and they managed to review the conditions / activities therein, though only limited opportunities were possible for extended discussions with the IDPs or rehabilitees.

 However, the delegation was able to:

1.        Obtain some relevant information to facilitate planning of humanitarian projects;

2.        Motivate  the IDPs to engage in livelihood activities;

3.        Arrange additional educational facilities to prepare for GCE A/L examinations shortly;

4.        Arranged physical education and provided equipments;

5.        Arranged telephone facilities for incoming calls for rehabilitees;

6.        Arranged further professional courses for rehabilitees.

 The overarching mission at this juncture is to provide humanitarian assistance to the IDPs and rehabilitees, who are living in impoverished conditions and crying out for help. The delegation is  endeavouring to reduce further unnecessary deaths and pain being inflicted on them. Great efforts are necessary to reach out and help them. The engagement we had with the authorities was purely to help us to serve the needy people in the North and East.

 We would very much liked to have discussed our humanitarian endeavours with a united entity of MPs representing the Tamil speaking people in the North and East, but due to its absence we pursued the above approach. We hope that in the near future opportunity for this will be there.

 The delegation did not participate in any discussions relating to politics, peace or infrastructure development. Also, has not channelled any funds through GoSL agencies, and will not do so in the future.

 We will be more than happy to share its findings with any humanitarian organisations having similar objectives as its own.