- Says JVP has neglected family, children have no place to go and family has no faith in JVP
- Reveals children discriminated against as father is Wijeweera, therefore well-educated but jobless
- Accuses JVP of using family to build party image and JVP Leader Dissanayake of avoiding calls for help
By Shanika Sriyananda
Q: For how long you have you and your children been living in the Navy camp?
A: From 1989 to 1992 we lived in the Ganemulla Army camp. Later, the then Government transferred us to the Tissa Navy camp in Trincomalee. We stayed there for nearly seven years. Since 1999, we have been living in the Gemunu Navy camp in Welisara.
Q: Why didn’t you try to go abroad?
A: Yes, we could have gone abroad easily as our lives were under threat those days, but no one helped us. I was also not concerned very much about starting a life abroad, as I was shouldering the burden of raising six children. But since the children started schooling, I had been requesting the JVP to help my family to go abroad as they were subjected to harassment.
Once the then JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe, Secretary Tilvin Silva and Nihal Galappaththi visited us and I informed them that my children could not live in Sri Lanka as they were discriminated against in their schools when other children came to know they were Rohana Wijeweera’s children. All my pleas to the JVP have fallen on deaf ears and they refused to help us, giving various false excuses. I think the JVP could have easily helped us.
I will not deny that the JVP helped us on some occasions, but they misled us for 26 years and now they are boasting about the things that they did for us. They say that they looked after us. I don’t know why they lie.
Q: You said your children are still harassed by society. Why?
A: Yes. They are all well-educated but facing the problem of finding jobs. When they go for interviews, they get disqualified when the interview board comes to know they are Rohana Wijeweera’s children.
Q: Do you mean to say that the JVP hasn’t looked after or helped the family of its founder leader Rohana Wijeweera?
A: I have read some news reports about the JVP saying they helped us. Yes, they helped us in some ways, but do you think that we would be languishing in military camps for nearly 26 years if they really helped and looked after us? We are in this situation as they have done nothing to look after us. They didn’t help us the way they preach. If the JVP or its breakaway groups had done something for us, we would not be facing this pathetic situation. The JVP could easily take us out of the Navy camp but they never helped us.
Q: When were you asked to leave the Navy camp?
A: In February this year, the Navy informed us to vacate the house in the Navy camp before 1 October. We don’t have a place to go.
Q: Did you seek support of the JVP after you were informed to move out of the Welisara Navy Camp?
A: Yes I first called Tilvin Silva to inform him about moving out of the camp. He told me that the JVP doesn’t have money to buy a house for us. But I read in newspapers him saying they will take care of the family. I think now they make these statements as they are afraid of tarnishing the party image. They always try to show that the JVP is fighting for justice in this country. But this party which is clamouring for justice never demanded an inquiry into the murder of my husband who was the party founder and made a lot of sacrifices for the party. Over 60,000 people died during the JVP insurgency but the party couldn’t do justice for those people by requesting an investigation into their deaths. But they are demanding a probe into the killings that took place in the north. Therefore, how can they do justice to my family? It is very simple, if they did justice to Rohana Wijeweera’s family, we wouldn’t have to suffer this much.
Q: Why didn’t you contact JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake?
A: When Anura Kumara became the Leader, I called Tilvin and requested him to give me Anura’s number as I wanted to tell him about our plight, especially how my children were harassed and the pathetic situation that they live in. But he didn’t give me Anura’s number. Then I found Anura’s number through a party supporter. I called him for the first time and he didn’t know that it was me. I told my story and requested him to provide us a place to live. Believe me, I make over 20 to 30 calls every day but he never answers as he wants to avoid me.
However, with the news about our story, the JVP is active in giving press statements about supporting us. The JVP has said that it will never allow me and my children to fall into the streets. I think now they are just trying to protect the party image.
Q: Do you still have hopes that the JVP will support your family?
A: No. They couldn’t help us for the last 26 years, how are they going to do so now? I don’t have any faith in the JVP. I don’t expect their help now. We were in a well for the last 26 years and I think we have to come out of that well by ourselves. I request the JVP not to make any comments about us. I have high hopes that this Government will support us to solve the problem.
Q: You never spoke about your plight for over two-and-a-half decades. Why now?
A: Yes, I was tolerating everything and never thought of coming out with my story. But I thought of coming out as I don’t have a place to live with my children once we are moved out of the camp. I have no political agenda or other motive in telling my story. I don’t want to sling mud at the JVP but I need to tell the truth about our situation. Though my children are educated they are still jobless as they find very difficult to find jobs due to the mentality of the society.
Q: The JVP’s former Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe has said that the Central Committee of the JVP had decided to allocate Rs. 10 million to provide a house for your family four years ago. Your comments?
A: I want to ask him, if the party had decided to donate that amount of money, why didn’t they give us that money when the children were in need of support?
Q: A peaceful environment now prevails in the country. But still do you prefer going abroad?
A: Yes. Sri Lankan society still doesn’t accept my children well. They are always subjected to discrimination and society looks at them in a different way. They have suffered enough by growing up in military camps. They need a peaceful mental status to live.
Q: Are you going to enter into politics?
A: No, I don’t have any idea of entering into politics. If I wanted to, I could have done some years back. Today, I only want to see justice meted out to my children. My only hope is that the government will intervene and help us to find a place to live.
Tilvin Silva, General Secretary of the JVP
“The JVP is ready to provide support and protection to Rohana Wijeweera’s family. For the last 20 to 26 years, the JVP has been supporting the family on several occasions when they required help. We don’t want to list out the help we offered the family. We will continue to support them. The JVP will not overlook their requests for help.”
Somawansa Amarasinghe, former JVP Leader:
“When I was the leader, the JVP’s Central Committee took a decision to allocate Rs. 10 million to provide housing facilities for Wijeweera’s family. I think that fund still exists with the JVP. It is a good move if the JVP can take the responsibility of his family. I think the Government also has a responsibility of supporting Wijeweera’s family as the then Government assured the safety of his family when they surrendered.”
Commander Indika De Silva, Navy Spokesman
“President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) to extend sheltering the Wijeweera family for another six months from 1 October. He has taken the decision after a discussion with the members of the Security Council.
They are given all facilities and protection at the camp but considering the prevailing peaceful environment in the country, the former SLN Commander Rear Admiral Jayantha Perera issued a letter on 26 February this year requesting the Wijeweera family to move out. Considering the present situation of the family, the President has ordered the SLN to allow them to stay at the Gemunu Naval Base Welisara for another six months.”