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LTTE Child Soldiers

The manner in which the Darusman Panel dealt with the issue of child recruitment is symptomatic of its efforts to minimize the atrocities of the LTTE, as well as the failure of the international community to do anything to limit these.

Having introduced the LTTE as a disciplined group, it describes some of the things it did, and declares that ‘Its tactics led to the organization’s proscription in numerous countries, including Canada, the European Union, India, the United Kingdom and the United States; its proscription intensified after 11 September 2001’.  This is perhaps an oblique way of saying that the West was not concerned about terrorism till it struck at them, but that too is misleading. It was much more recently that the West proscribed the LTTE, after it had been permitted for years to raise funds at will and continue with its wicked tactics.

The Panel does grant that ‘The LTTE was also known for its forced recruitment and use of child soldiers, including boys and girls’, the additional verbiage being typical of how its Report has been padded out. I presume it is not a suggestion that there were also some androgynous child soldiers. What the Panel omits is that amongst those knowing this were the UN in Sri Lanka, which was well aware that the LTTE continued to recruit children right through what was supposed to be a peace process. This has been emphatically put on record by the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, and one reason I have a high regard for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry (as opposed to Mr Solheim) is that Ambassador Brattskar made clear to the LTTE that it could not insist that the topic of child soldiers should be removed from the agenda at Peace Talks. Read the rest of this entry »

The bund built by the LTTE along the Chundikkulam lagoon - courtesy Army media

One of the most astonishing factors about the determination of the LTTE to keep the people of the Vanni hostage was how little opposition it encountered. I am not talking here of a lack of opposition from the people who were victimized. If the price of trying to get away is death, then obviously you would be inclined to give in and stay. In such a context indeed it is remarkable that so many people had the courage to try to get away, and that some at least succeeded without the assistance of the Sri Lankan forces.

To cite just two incidents mentioned in the December 2009 report of the Jaffna University Teachers for Human Rights, who are certainly not indulgent towards the government –

In describing something that seems to have taken place in January, UTHR writes that ‘A group of people from Jaffna was trying to escape towards army moving west from south of the A 35, lines when some LTTE cadres stopped them. A woman was with her grand daughter and the latter’s two younger brothers in their early teens. The grand daughter prostrated herself before an LTTE man and pleaded wi0th him to let them go. The LTTE man pushed her with his foot. Her grand mother then lay at his feet and repeated the same plea. The LTTE man then opened fire injuring the three children. The injured grand daughter and the two children were helped by others to the army line and were dispatched to Vavuniya Hospital. The boys recovered. The grand daughter was sent to Colombo Hospital where she succumbed. One of the young boys who survived says that he would recognise the LTTE man who shot them anywhere and he would kill him.

 

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2011
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