20th June, 2004  Volume 10, Issue 4
9

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ISSUES

Wijeweera's family still barracked  

By Ranee Mohamed  

What is the fate of the wife and six children of the founder of the JVP, Rohana Wijeweera? When JVP General Secretary, Tilvin Silva signed the agreement with the People's Alliance (PA) at the BMICH recently he remembered the slain Wijeweera and said that it is his battle that they are forging ahead with. But sadly, the wife and children of their hero is being kept inside a naval camp with the doubtful proclamations that 'they are not so sure' of the government and their tenure.

Vague promises

But the victory of the UPFA and the advent of the JVP into government has not filtered down to the Wejeweeras. After living for 14 years in naval camps, living unusually confined lives sans entertainment and freedom, now after three months into office the JVP seems to have only given them vague promises of being unsure for 'how long their tenure will be' and thus to be patient.

They remain confined to barracks with no liberation in sight. As the father of the JVP, Rohana Wijeweera is mentioned at every turn of events, but his own kith and kin suffer in hibernation while the reds bask in the glory of Wijeweera's own prophecies and principles.

Living in hope

Srimathi Wijeweera, wife of slain JVP Leader, Rohana Wijeweera living in the naval camp at Welisara said that she is smiling amidst the tears. "Tilvin Silva is in touch with me and the JVP is looking after the education of my six children. But I feel confined. I have six children and my eldest daughter is 23 years old and all our life we seemed to have been living in confined spaces," said Srimathi who stressed that she does not know much about politics.

When asked why she is still 'confined to barracks' she said that she is living in hope that they will soon live free.

"The late President Ranasinghe Premadasa did a lot for us. He took us into his care at a time when we needed to be looked after. He promised to come and see us in the Trincomalee navy camp on his way to the opening of a university in Batticaloa in June but he died in May that year," sighed Srimathi.

"We have tried our best to seek political asylum overseas. We tried to go to many countries but everything failed. It may be bad luck. Somawansa Amarasinghe came to visit us when he came to Sri Lanka. He said that he will look after us and we have hope in him," said Srimathi. But the family is still 'waiting' for the promises to realise.

Attempts failed

Srimathi Wijeweera tries to be happy but her words betray her. "I cannot bring my sons up in this confined atmosphere. The Sri Lanka Navy is doing so much for us. They are giving us food and shelter but there are things that we would like to do as a family," explained Srimathi.

"My brother Chandra Fernando tried to take us to England but he failed. We had to go to Trincomalee instead," added Srimathi. The family now lives in the Gemunu navy camp in Welisara.

She said that the wife of the former secretary of the JVP, Upatissa Gamanayake has also tried to help her to go abroad. "Lionel Bopage also tried, but nothing seems to be working. Today, I am living in the hope that we will have a better life. Of course I am not complaining, the JVP helps with the children's education. But there are things that we would like to do," she stressed.

When asked whether she has an income and whether her children have money to spend on themselves, Srimathi remained silent. "People have insulted us, saying that we have taken sacks of gold but only I know our plight. We are living in hope for a better life," said the wife of the hero of the JVP.

Faith

She said that the UNP too has done much for her family and so has the President. When asked why she remains confined to a navy camp despite her husband's party being in power, Srimathi said that the present day JVP leader will do something for her 'when they get on to a better footing.'

 "They have told me that they will do something for us. I do not know much about politics and I believe they will do something," she said.

"Today I depend on my children for everything - for advice, for solace and comfort," she said. When asked about her husband she said that he was a man who deplored injustice. "I could not sense his fierce strength because I grew up in a strict family atmosphere ruled by four brothers and a strict father."

Despite her husband's strong political beliefs and strength of character, Srimathi appears načve and believing. She truly believes that the JVP will take her to an El Dorado and that it is 'just a matter of time' for them to get on to a 'better footing.' She seems to be unable to realise the fact that they are the ruling party - in power.

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