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 Post subject: Eastern LTTE cadre desertion on the rise
 Post Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 5:28 am 
Eastern LTTE cadre desertion on the rise

© 2007 ReliefWeb / 08Feb2007

"I ran away from the LTTE 15 days after I was abducted but I couldn't run very far. They caught me and beat me severely. It was Pahulmaran, the camp's training master who hit me. He tied me to a tree for three days as a punishment for trying to escape", revealed a 16 year old cadre, the youngest of the five who surrendered to the STF camp in Sangaman Kanda in Ampara on 15th January 2007.

These boys who were successful in their second attempt said "They shaved our heads and gave us black T shirts to wear and then we were ordered to build bunkers and clean up the camps and move things"

These youth, residents of Tirukkovil, had been abducted by the LTTE in November last year and taken to a camp on the other side of the Kanchikudichchiaru tank, further interior of the forest reserve. The STF's 'Niyathai Jaya' operation to liberate Kanchikudichchiaru from the LTTE paved the way for these youth to escape from the Tigers. Since the operation was launched on 4th January 2007, seven LTTE escapees have surrendered to the STF.

Since October last year, 82 LTTE cadres have surrendered to the Security Forces of whom 80 were from the Eastern province. From 22 February 2002 around 583 LTTE cadres have surrendered to the Security Forces and the Police. Out of this total, 478 were from the Eastern province, which is 83% of the total escapees.

Statistics show a gradual increase of LTTE surrendees from the East. One of the reasons behind this trend is the presence of the Security Forces in the East. Almost all LTTE surrendees have said that they trust the Security Forces. The presence of the Security Forces has minimized the chances of their families being harassed by the LTTE.

Secondly, almost all surrendees have been forcibly recruited by the LTTE. On 18th December last year, a group of armed LTTE terrorists abducted 24 school children and two school teachers at Thirukkovil in Ampara. Civilian sources confirmed that these children were ordered to get into a van at gun point. The van was seen speeding towards the Kanchikudichchiaru area. Among the abducted school children were 7 boys and 15 girls who were attending an extra tuition class at the time of the incident. Following the abduction, the foreign media quoted a LTTE "spokesman" as saying that the mass abduction of schoolchildren at Thirukkovil was a 'serious mistake". However, the LTTE later released the 15 abducted school girls due to enormous pressure exerted by their parents and the media.

"The abducted school children were brought to our camp by our leaders. Seven boys were brought", a surrendered LTTE cadre revealed to the media.

Youth who have been used to a relatively civil lifestyle unlike in Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu know the difference of the two worlds. The youth in the East has enjoyed relative freedom as against those living in Kilinochchi & Mullaithivu. Thus their unwillingness to be trained as cadres of the LTTE is understandable.

Due to the loss of LTTE military strength in the East, tiger cadres have lost confidence in their hierarchy. Further being familiar with the security forces personnel they do not feel threatened or intimidated by the presence of troops.

The fall of Sampur and Vakarai, was a major psychological defeat for the LTTE. The recent military gains in the east has also further secured the east from the Tiger dominated Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi districts paving the way for normalcy to return. In this backdrop it is likely that more LTTE cadres would surrender to the Security Forces in the days ahead.

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