Former Election Commission member Jeevan Thiyagarajah has been sworn in as the new Governor of the Northern Province.
On Monday Thiyagarajah took his oath before Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo. He will be replacing P S M Charles, who had been serving in the position since 30 December, 2019.
Thiyagarajah was appointed as a member of the Election Commission on 3 December 2020, after having worked for non-governmental organisations since 1984.
In September 2008, as tens of thousands of Tamils were displaced from their homes and international NGOs retreated as they could not guarantee their own safety, Thiyagarajah, then executive director of the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, an association of relief groups, insisted to AlertNet that there were structures in place to take care of civilians following the withdrawal of most international aid agencies.
As these NGO's continued their retreat, despite the pleas of Tamil civilians, Sri Lanka's military executed a brutal assault on the North-East which included the indiscriminate shelling of hospitals, food distribution lines, established bombardment of established "no fire-zones". The military also stands accused of the summary execution of civilians, mass rape, and enforced disappearances. The UN estimates that in the final weeks alone there could have been as many as 25,000 Tamil civilians killed. The International Truth and Justice Project estimates that the total killed during the final period of the war could be as high as 169,796.
Last week, Thiyagarajah confirmed that he accepted the request extended by Rajapaksa to be appointed as the Northern Province Governor and that he would step down from his post as a member of the Election Commission in order to take up the new position.