Save Fridsro from Violation of Human Rights

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1)      Present Board Member and CEO of Fridsro : Mr Sanjeev Nissanka Jayaweera, bearing National ID No: 682541105 V residing at No: 3 Preethi Mawatha, Watapuluwa Kandy

2)      Present Board Member and Director of Human Rights of Fridsro: Mr Krishna Kumar Rasiah bearing National ID No: 720734397 V residing in No 101/8, Lady McCullum Road, Katugasthota (he is falsely claiming himself to be a Christian Pastor although he has no Official Credentials given by the Assemblies of God of Ceylon)

We are representatives of the Fridsro Old Children's Association (FOCA), well-meaning individuals and supporters of Fridsro both in Sri Lanka and globally. More importantly, we are collectively against abuse of children's rights and unlawful and unethical conduct of human and financial resources at Fridsro.

Fridsro Projects, which was started by Rev Jacob Perera and his wife Anagreta Perera in 1972, was a haven of peace and restoration for the destitute and sick in body, mind and spirit. Since the death of Anagreta Perera, Fridsro fell into the hands of two corrupt individuals who have violated the purpose of Fridsro and have been found with evidence to have misappropriated funds in addition to grievous abuse of the rights of the children and gender based discrimination of staff under their management. These two individuals have been ruling with force and fear, causing isolation and a refusal of fundamental rights of the orphaned children, the Founder, The Chairman and the staff at Fridsro.

The following reasons are presented for the removal of Mr Sanjeev Nissanka Jayaweera and Mr Krishna Kumar Rasiah:

1)      The Ear Bags export project was a profitable venture for Fridsro which helped pay for staff salaries. Yet, Mr Jayaweera concluded it was not viable and closed the project.  Soon after, it was revealed that he was conducting the same business with the same clients as a private operation with profits to his own personal account under the brand ‘Hands & Labels’.  This is a deliberate attempt to improve personal profit rather than the institutional progress. Mr Jayaweera has ordered the closure of the orphanage due to lack of funds while privately enjoying funds that should have been utilised for the wellbeing of the children.

2)      The accidental death of Mr Bernard Abeygunewardena who was handling the Ear Bags project for Fridsro and subsequently Hands & Labels,  threw suspicion on Mr Jayaweera as Mr Bernard had evidence of mismanagement of funds under Fridsro Disaster Relief post Tsunami.  This created a lack of faith in the management and instilled fear among staff.

3)      The gross violation of Child Rights by Mr Krishna Kumar Rasiah in the handling of Ms Chandra Shalini Poominathan, a teenager brought into the care of Fridsro Children’s Home at a tender age along with her younger brother and sister.  She was taken under the wing of Mr Rasiah and was even given residence in an annexe in his private residence away from the main Fridsro complex.  During this time, Ms Poominathan fell ill and upon medical inspection was found pregnant.  She was secretly returned to Fridsro and attempts were made to abort the baby.  Mr Rasiah had given strict instructions that nobody at Fridsro should know about her condition. Attempts to smuggle her out of Fridsro and place at a convent in Hendala, Wattala failed.  Mr Rasiah also tried to send her back to the nearest relative withholding the fact that she was indeed with child. After this too failed, he instructed that Ms Poominathan, along with her impoverished mother be left stranded at a bus halt in Katugastota with no chance of return.  This was carried out by a staff member, who to this day is haunted by the experience.  Ms Poominathan was seen to be loitering in the streets, heavily pregnant.  It is a violation of fundamental rights of a child who was taken from under the Gampola bridge with the promise of a bright and beautiful future. Eventually, she was thrown out on the streets in a worse condition than when she came in.  Up to today, Mr Rasiah, who is supposedly the Director for Human Rights projects, has made no inquiry about her welfare nor taken any steps to right the situation.  The secrecy and the repeated attempts to remove Ms Poominathan only brings doubt in our minds as to the nature of relationship Mr Rasiah has had with a deeply troubled and vulnerable teenager.

4)      About 10 years back (circa 1999-2000) Mr Krishna Kumar Rasiah was found guilty in a previous record of fathering an illegitimate child with a widow of a slain Army Soldier from Kurunegala, while he was working with the Kurunegala Church. They were caught by the widow’s brother while trying to abort the baby. Mr Rasiah had denied any involvement at which point the woman had appeared at the church and related their relationship and the fact that Mr Rasiah was indeed the father of the baby.  At that point, the Assemblies of God of Ceylon intervened and removed the Pastoral Credentials from Mr Rasiah and was sent as punishment to work in Fridsro.  The woman refused to be dragged from pillar to post explaining to different pastors as to what transpired. She then proceeded to alienate herself from public eye and has ever since lived away from scrutiny.  Evidence of this incident is filed with the Assemblies of God of Ceylon Head Office in Ja-ela.  This clear proof of Mr Rasiah’s violation of God’s principles and the repeated abandonment of women who has taken advantage of, which makes him grossly unsuitable to hold any position at Fridsro where vulnerable girl children are at his disposal.

5)      The recruitment of Mr Jayaweera’s relative, Ms Chitra Abeywardena to supervise the orphaned and vulnerable Children led to severe traumatisation endured by the Children.  Ms Chitra severely beat the children and starved them repeatedly. So much so, that eventually the children turned around and beat her up. This shows the extent to which animosity and resentment was built up against Ms Chitra. Together with Ms Chitra, Mr Rasiah violently threatened the children saying they wished they (the children) were dead.  As managers of a benevolent and compassionate place for Children, Mr Jayaweera should have been mindful about the selection of staff tending the children.  This shows that they didn’t care for the welfare of the children and only wanted subservient conduct. It is evident from Mr Rolf Davidsson’s report on Fridsro ,that the children were growing in a very unhealthy and mentally disturbing environment.  

6)      During audits it was found that unutilised project funds were siphoned off into private accounts, one of which was held by Mr Rasiah in an account of a bank in Gampola.  When an inquiry was ordered, Mr Rasiah used political influence in thwarting the probe and the case was dropped. It is believed that millions of rupees belonging to Disaster Relief funds are hoarded in this account. It has been said by the richest Real Estate dealer in Kurunegala Mr Rohana Bogollagama ‘Mr Rasiah is my loyal customer and he has brought many properties in Kurunegala’ He also owns a guest house

7)      The recent accidental death of a 14 year old Kasun Chanaka Pradeep Kumara while in the care of Fridsro Children’s Home has brought to light mismanagement and questions the quality of the supervisors on board. Why was an unsafe area in the premises not cordoned off?  It wasn’t until late evening that it was realised he was missing.  Why was his body found only at 2am the next morning? Why wasn’t a 14 year old’s tragic death not visited by the CEO Mr Jayaweera and so-called Human Rights Director Mr Rasiah?  They never visited the Home during this terrible time for the children.   The villagers notice this neglect and disinterest and wonder why they even call themselves humanitarians.  Is it not proof enough that they don’t really care about the Children of the Home but only run after the funds received for the children?

8)      The legal complaint from an ex-staff member Ms Kumudu against Mr Jayaweera’s sexual harassment towards her, further aggravates the safety and security of the vulnerable girls under their care. This makes them completely unsuitable to hold positions of power.

9)      The unlawful dismissals of Ms Kumudu and Ms Nayana has resulted in Ms Kumudu filing a case at the Labour Tribunal in Kandy bringing disrepute and shame to Fridsro.

10)  The unlawful dismissal of Ms Nayana has also resulted in a case at the Labour Tribunal in Kandy bringing further ill well to Fridsro.  Ms Nayana was called ‘haraka’ (cow) by the CEO Mr Jayaweera projecting gender discrimination and absolute anarchy. She as also subjected to two hours of drilling in a room alone with a male lawyer forcing her to sign documents making false accusations about Ms Kumudu, which Ms Nayana refused to sign.  She was promised a vehicle, higher salary, better position on the condition she signs.  It was her refusal that led to her termination without cause.

11)  During Christmas 2018, many of the FOCA children had raised considerable amounts of funds towards the annual Christmas Program at the Children’s Home. Yet it was found that the Directors had utilised this fund to pay themselves Bonuses while the Children had plain tea and buns.  This is evidence of selfish motives of the management.

12)  It was also during this time that Mr Jayaweera had declared there were insufficient funds to run the Children’s Home (not the projects handled by him) and declared it be closed down.  In this same period, Mr Jayaweera purchased the latest Suzuki Swift RS Turbo 2017 plus a Mini Cooper worth over Rs.10.5 million Rupees.  Mr Jayaweera joined Fridsro as a preacher only on Sundays for an allowance of Rs.1,000 per visit.  It is alarming to note the superfluous life he has since led, amassing wealth in property and vehicles, while the Institution resources were in pure neglect and disrepair.  Even the rations were curtailed for the children on the premise of lack of funds.

13)  We are deeply concerned and fear for the life of Rev Jacob Perera who is currently residing in Fridsro and not allowed to see any visitors.  It seems like they are killing him while still alive, not allowing him to die peacefully and with respect, mistreating him with no regard to his age or health condition.  The current management treats him with such disrespect as evident in the video clip shared on 1st April 2019.   While a child of the home died with little security or supervision, two new security guards have been installed selected by the CEO, to guard the gates of Fridsro in order to cut off Rev Jacob Perera from the rest of the world.  Why are we blocked from speaking to Jake Perera or Rev Jacob Perera? Why are we blocked at the gates of Fridsro when attempting to meet them? On what premise have these banning been authorised?

14)  We also believe that Rev Jacob and Jake Perera will be treated the same way Lorena was treated when she came to Fridsro for help.  She was also blocked at the gates and was not given any support.  Mr  Jayaweera ordered that nobody should help her and not even offer a panadol.  She was withheld basic needs from an instiution that her parents built as a place of comfort.  Is Fridsro not a home for those in trouble and despair?

15)  We are not satisfied with the declaration that Jake Perera will continue to handle the Children’s home only – it seems like an attempt to appease those who were protesting about the injustice towards Jake and the attempts made to remove him from Fridsro.

16)  We are perplexed as to Mr Jayaweera and Mr Rasiah are still functioning in the management despite having highlighted their injustice and unethical conduct which is in direct violation of the vision and mission of Fridsro. What more evidence do you want?  Is it not your responsibility to check into these things? How can you keep giving project responsibilities to these two individuals knowing full well that there is misappropriation of funds?

17)  Why is the Founder and the Chairman of Fridsro hiring vehicles when Mr Jayaweera and Mr Rasiah are travelling in the latest Benz and Mini Coopers bought with Fridsro funds?

18)  Any attempts by any well-meaning staff to address the above issues with the management, even daylight robberies by the Finance Director with proof, resulted in the immediate and unlawful sacking of staff with no recourse.

The attempted coup, as publicly notified by Rev Jacob Perera and his son the Chairman, Jake Perera on 25th March 2019 was due to the above two persons and we will not allow it to happen. For the rest of us, Jake is still Chairman. Nobody can change it and we will not allow it.  It has to be a Constitutional and Legal change with a proper Board Resolution.  An email resignation made under duress is not considered valid.As we have no faith in the management, especially in the two individuals mentioned, FOCA is petitioning for the removal of the said and until such time, we will fight this battle.