|Child Soldiers: Terrorism at its most despicable
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|Author:||Peter [ Sat Aug 19, 2006 3:06 am ]|
|Post subject:||Child Soldiers: Terrorism at its most despicable|
Child Soldiers: Terrorism at its most despicable
Forced conscripts fighting a war that they do not understand
@ DM 19Aug2006 / Political Panorama
By Shakuntala Perera
Siruthai puligal or the Leopard Brigade of the LTTE is considered one of the movement’s fiercest arms. Made up of children removed from the LTTE’s ‘orphanages’ the children are made to go through a vigorous training in arms and killing. It is estimated that a large number of the dead in the Elephant Pass military complex operation in 1991 were children from this brigade. There were at least 550 cadres dead at that operation.
The LTTE’s first use of child soldiers in a large scale operation is traced to 1990. An LTTE suicide cadre; ‘Pork’ rammed a lorry laden with explosives on the Mankulam army camp in the attack. This was followed closely by armed combatants from the baby brigade. Of the 70 the LTTE lost in the operation a large number were again children.
Of an estimated 3000 LTTE cadres used for the 1995 operation against the Weli oya military camp, more than two thirds were children. The rest were largely women. Children again formed a larger number of some 6000 cadres that attacked the Mulativu camp in 1996. The approximately 300 troops who surrendered were all gunned down by these children.
A UN report noted that children formed a large portion of the cadres used for frontal attacks. According to the UN, children as young as ten have been used as assassins. Children of the same age have continuously been used by the LTTE to massacre entire villages of especially the women and children.
The UNICEF recorded 3516 new recruitment of children for armed combat by the LTTE during the first two years of the Ceasefire Agreement alone. The period of the CFA was believed one of the group’s highest levels of recruitment. To date the number is estimated at 5368 children in combat.
After a long while the CFA provided cadres to enter government controlled areas and abduct children. The LTTE even re-recruited formally released children. It is estimated that as much as 90% of the, at least 1206 such children released as a ‘good will’ gesture may have been re-recruited.
The LTTE even recruited a large portion of the children that the Karuna faction released after it defected from the Vanni. There were estimated to be 2000 child cadres with Karuna at the time it disbanded and encouraged children back to their homes. A year after the CFA was signed the LTTE agreed to release children under its captivity. They signed an Action Plan for Children affected by war with the government. The Action Plan was to bring into effect three transit camps to hold children for rehabilitation when released.
However the UNICEF maintains that at least twice the amount of children released had been recruited by the LTTE subsequently. One of the camps has never received more than 50 children. By June 2003 for as much as one and a half months the camp was completely empty. The other two did not even open operations simply because there wasn’t enough children to fill them.
But, these are the actions of one of the world’s most ruthless terror groups. There are laws of humanity that draw clear lines between the LTTE and legitimate governments. There is a reason why legitimate governments sign international covenants of child protection, and terrorists like the LTTE break them. It is the same reason why groups like the LTTE remain banned in many countries.
But if and when, a camp of children even if they are combatants are bombed one must question the difference between.
The government maintains that the children were being trained in armed combat, hence the attack. Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella claimed that it was ‘difficult’ for the troops to look at the age but ‘at what they were aiming to do’. He said it was unrealistic to expect troops to take child cadres on to ‘our knees’ and cuddle.
Certainly, LTTE claims of the aid camp in the middle of a dense jungle is hardly believable. It is most likely that it was indeed a training camp. But the fact remains that it was still a camp of children.
One of the main justifications of successive government towards the barbaric nature of the LTTE was in fact the use of child combatants. Such acts in fact contributed towards the movement being banned in many countries. The terrorists received international condemnation because of the use of children.
If a mistake happened, the moral duty of the government should have been to admit and correct the damage. But attempting to justify such an act deserves the same condemnation as does the LTTE for using child soldiers .
Dissident Karuna had yesterday noted that ‘we must stop and think as to who made it possible for the air raid to hit the children. At a time when there is heavy fighting and heavy aerial attacks why did Prabha’s Group take the students to a place which was expected to come under attack?" he asked.
Needless to say, the government has a difficult task in dealing with a blood thirsty group like the LTTE. But such acts will reduce international support that the government can now ill afford to do.
The issue is according to a western diplomat likely to be used in international fora. It will be difficult to support claims of defensive action, if incidents like these are continued.
The Four Co-chairs of Tokyo Donors are expected to meet within the course of the coming week to take some ‘crucial decisions’ regarding the peace process. The deadline on the Monitoring Mission composition too will rate high in these talks. Diplomats believe incidents like Mulativu will put the government on the same level as the LTTE. ‘It will be difficult for the government to maintain its moral high ground in this scenario. And this will prove disastrous to the government if not remedied fast,’ it was mentioned.
It was reiterated that international bans on the LTTE must be the focus of government attention ‘at all times’. The government must be mindful that some European Union members are already having their misgivings about the ban. It becomes crucial for the LTTE to maintain the momentum gained. Troop discipline is essential in that respect.
But the government must be alert to international tones. The United States government had a clear message to Sri Lanka two days back.’ We understand the need to fight- but make it a responsible one’.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary South and Central Asian Affairs, Ambassador Steven Mann ending a two -day visit to Sri Lanka said that he understood ‘superbly’ the context in which governments like Sri Lanka must operate.
Stressing that ‘there was a clear responsibility for the LTTE to cease all acts of violence immediately and return to negotiations’, he stressed that the ban against the LTTE remained. He said the ban will be in effect ‘as long as’ the LTTE espouses terrorist methods to advance its cause.
“The LTTE has brought that on itself. The US has long designated the LTTE as an international terrorist organization. We have a very clear view on that. It is listed as such,” he emphasized.
But there was a message to the government as well. And it had been delivered to the President minutes before. The US asks the government that it ensures that the conduct of its forces were ‘impeccable’ in combat.
The UNICEF maintains that the girls who perished were ‘innocent victims of violence’. Maintaining that the children were attending a first aid camp, the UNICEF asked that troops ensure the safety of children and the places they live in i. Commendable words indeed.
But, sadly the UN has much to answer for, in situations like this. Despite impressive resolutions the UN has throughout failed to make the plight of the child soldiers in Sri Lanka a priority case.
In 2001 the UN Security Council moved a list of perpetrators public and in January 2003 for a further report on the parties’ progress in ‘ending their recruitment or use of child soldiers, and agreed to consider additional appropriate steps against those who failed to show sufficient progress in ending these crimes.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution 1460 in 2003 to monitor nations or rebel groups that kill, maim and sexually abuse children in war zones or recruit them as soldiers.
"The Security Council is deeply concerned over the lack of overall progress on the ground, where parties to conflict continue to violate with impunity ... international law relating to the rights,’ said the resolution.
Yet, reports have shown that there was ‘remarkably little progress’ in ending the use of child soldiers and ‘some violators’ have even increased their recruitment of children. The report included a critical review of demobilization programs where they exist, and finds that girls continue to be overlooked and excluded from such programs. Available evidence suggested that children are being deployed in additional conflicts around the world.
Certainly there has been little action on ground to make the resolution more effective. There has been insufficient funds released for an effective plan to discontinue re-recruitment. There has been no alternative provided the children released. With the impoverished status remaining, there has been much of the time little choice.
Facilitator Norway, must take equal responsibility for the situation of child solders. Throughout the CFA violation with regard to child recruitment they failed to intimate concern with LTTE. Norway never made it a priority in peace facilitation. They never discouraged the LTTE from recruitment in the guise of political work in cleared areas.
|Author:||Guest [ Sat Aug 19, 2006 3:37 am ]|
|Post subject:||Maidens to the slaughter|
Maidens to the slaughter
Copyright © 2005 www.independentsl.com
By Durga Velautham in Colombo
The year 1987, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam took over the Muthuthamby Orphanage at Tinnevely using their muscle-power and threats to advantage. This had both the boys and girls wing, and looking back, it is evident that Velupillai Prabhakaran had set the eyes on orphanages as the source for his fighting cadres and also as the fronts to raise funds from the gullible and the foolish.
Once they grabbed the Tinnevely orphanage, the LTTE made it crystal clear that they would be the ones to run, manage and control orphanages in the entire Northern and Eastern Provinces. Many of the children in these orphanages are those who lost their parents due to the activities of the LTTE. Whenever the LTTE found children without parents they grabbed them into their orphanages and some were even taken from their parents.
Tamil parents have dreams for their children and these dreams would not go along with the ideas of the LTTE to raise an army. Tamil parents want other peoples children to do the dirty work and Prabhakaran needed an army to pursue his goal of a mafia state and this was not known to the Tamils.
They looked up to him as a hero who will teach the Sinhalese a good lesson and win a separate state for the Tamils. This was not in Prabhakaran’s plans. He wanted a smuggler mafia state. He chose a grandiose plan to cheat the Tamils like planting a pin into a banana and for the army to fight for his mafia state, he set up on his vicious orphanage plan.
He could also manipulate the orphans without being interfered with by anyone else and around them he cast the evil mantle of a cult in which he was all but god himself; perhaps in the minds of the innocents he became their god.
Four years after grabbing the Tinnevely Muthuthamby Orphanage, Prabhakaran established a chain of orphanages called Chencholai (Red-Blossomed Garden), which became a ready source for child soldiers. In a feature titled “The LTTE’s Baby Brigade’ that appeared in the December 2001 issue of the Frontline published in Chennai, India, Nirupama Subramaniam made reference to this evil plan of Prabhakaran.
In Oddusuddan there is a military style orphanage called Punniapoomi (Holy Land) and where the resident orphans go through intense military training. The environment there is totally militaristic.
There is no denial of the truth that Wanni is littered with orphanages, camps and training centres and vast acres of parading grounds and one major activity centred around the children and young people caught in the claws of the Tigers is related to martial culture; nothing else. Even the events celebrated in Wanni are oriented towards sowing the seeds of anger and hatred in the minds of young people against the Sinhalese and those opposed to the Tigers and to value supreme sacrifice as the highest honour anyone can achieve in this life.
Wanni conducts life in such a manner that visitors especially do-gooder foreigners and the Tamil Diaspora are impressed with the order that prevails there, courtesies extended and the fronts they manage mainly to win the admiration of gullible visitors and from them to raise funds.
This feature has been necessitated by the blood-curdling tragedy in which the Sri Lankan Air Force killed a large number of children around the ages of 17 and 18, all of them girls as a result of a bombing raid. What is in question now is as to who these girls are, where did they come from and why were they at this site during this time when there is a war raging all around them.
The schools are in session all over the country including in the Wanni district. All schools in Sri Lanka come under the management of the Department of Education with some exception in Colombo and some other cities but not in Wanni. It will be another week or two before the schools have a short vacation.
The schools operate Monday to Friday both morning and afternoon and students during a school year have several other school-related activities. The LTTE do not run any school and are in no way involved with any activities or even curriculum plans of the schools.
It is therefore very strange – strange indeed – that several schoolgirls from the GCE Ordinary Level and Advanced Level classes from various parts of Wanni were present at this site so early in the morning on a school day – Monday – at 6 40 AM, that is the time the bombing raid took place. There are mixed and confusing reports about how long the girls were there; they varied from the ridiculous to the idiotic raising serious suspicions about the motives of those who had organized this activity.
The pro-LTTE website Puthinam.com announced that a Young Peoples activity camp will commence on Friday August 11 at the Major Bharathi Camp. This is one of the Chencholai Centres and it was here one of the two bombing tragedies were reported to have taken place. The question therefore is whether the children arrived here on Friday itself. They must have, because various opening activities have been reported in the same website with some leaders participating in them.
Puthinam.com also carried several pictures with girls armed with AK47 rifles and in martial style formations.
However, another report, according to TamilNet, has an entirely different story. It goes as follows:
“The Director of Tamileelam Educational Board, V Ilankumaran, in an interview to TamilNet Monday (August 14) said that the schoolgirls killed and injured in Monday’s Kfir attack were participants in a 10-day residential ‘Leadership, Self-Awareness and First Aid Workshop.’
More than 400 GCE AL students from different schools in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Oddusuddan Educational Zones and selected girls from other educational organizations took part in the annual programme, said Ilankumaran. It behooves the Director of Education of Mullaitivu to inform the public without any delay as to how this activity was permitted while the schools were still in session. Furthermore, the public must also know as to the kind of personnel who were conducting the First Aid classes,
Unless some tail twisting was done or corruption played its role and prevailed, such camps or activities are not held when the schools are in sessions and no parent will allow young girls of this age to gallivant with even a 2-day camp, let alone 10-day camps. It is also a clearly enshrined condition of the Ceasefire Agreement that children of Wanni should never ever be involved in any activities of the LTTE.
Who is this Ilankumaran? What authority has he to take the children to the jungles of Wanni? He is only an employ of the LTTE and has nothing to do with the Sri Lanka Department of Education.
Having evidently uttered a diabolic lie, Ilankumaran waxes emotional and condemns the air raid on the camp. He says:
“Today’s terrible pre-meditated attack on the helpless schoolgirls is an attack not only to destroy educational opportunities for the deprived Tamil students but also an attack on the student community at large. Successive Sinhala governments have denied the right to equal educational opportunity to the Tamil community. Our tortuous history bears testimony to the Sinhala approach to Tamil demand for equality. Sinhala extreme nationalist agenda attacked us whenever and wherever it had the opportunity.”
One wonders how long before the tragedy struck this comment by Ilankumaran was prepared if it was indeed the intention of the LTTE to expose such a large number of young girls to the possibility of an air attack? This camp activity was widely publicized and the Army Intelligence would have come to know of it and indeed as a training facility to enlist reservists for the fighting cadres if not suicide bombers.
Even more alarming is the fact that all camp trainees were girls of the age they are activated as suicide bombers. There are hundreds of photographic and electronic records available to prove that the LTTE has been training children and young people to be enlisted in the fighting cadres and also as suicide bombers.
The attack appeared to have taken place on two locations. An SLMM official, Thorfinnur Omarrson, who visited one of the two sites reacted instantly by saying that he did not see anything that looked militaristic at all, and that all who died appeared to be ordinary young persons. Later other SLMM monitors observed that the geography of the area was such that it is ideal to conduct arms training. They admitted it would not be possible for them to state if the location was purely a school or rebel training activity.
It was established that it was neither a school nor an orphanage.
Illentheriyan, a new comet on the Wanni Tiger horizon, however let the cat out of the bag. All the young girls who were killed according to him were orphans and were preparing for their GCE OL and GCE AL examinations and according to various reports, their parents were shocked, shaken and deeply agonized by their deaths. These girls were not from orphanages but were assembled from various schools in the district as many as eighteen of them
The question now is if these girls were preparing for GCE examinations how was it they were in a 10-day camp away from their schools and families; even if it was a 2-day camp? Further, if the children are orphans from where did their parents come? What is so very special about the two sites that were bombed which were observed as having ample facilities for military type training?
If the camp was for training in First Aid work why was it done in such an expansive manner when it could have been conducted in any school and under roof especially in a place where the sun can be quite hot. Children – girls – were even brought from Kilinochchi some thirty miles away.
None of these add up properly. Many possible motives are welling up into a frightening twister storm. It has been the known practice of the LTTE to conduct First Aid classes both in Wanni and in the north and east for many years now. These classes are only reserved for girls and the first of these were held during the early 1980s. The modus operandi is to announce these classes in the villages and townships and after the first sessions some are selected as having reached the grade to go for higher training in an LTTE camp. They are also told that training in First Aid will give them a chance to become nurses in government service. However, once they go to an LTTE camp, nearly all of them end up as trainee suicide bombers.
During these training, the girls are also subjected to certain pressures that deprive them of what a young female treasures most in her life. Once she loses that, she becomes an easy victim to all the cruel machinations of her trainer and or handler. This is the early making of a suicide bomber.
The current situation in Wanni being such and with hundreds of Tiger cadres falling, many desertions and the need for suicide bombers cardinal to create chaos in the country, the10-day camp was in fact may be an emergency training exercise for recruitment of suicide bombers and reservists.
There is also the very disturbing possibility that the LTTE wanted a horrendous incident directed against the Tamils. The Tiger leaders would have known that the two training sites were under surveillance by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.
Brigadier Jayawardene said that the Chencholai training camp was targeted on information provided by the army’s civilian intelligence and that they have monitored this training camp since 2004. “The camp,” he said, “was located eight kilometres from any human settlement and was in a jungle. Many buildings were being used for different drills. It was a transit camp. The LTTE cadres were transiting from this place to other areas after they finished training.”
Perhaps the LTTE was confident the Sri Lankan Armed Forces would oblige by bombing these training facilities and cause the horrific deaths of many, especially schoolgirls and provide them with a tragedy that they could exploit to the hilt. The LTTE has a horrific record of using the civilians as human shields and gun fodder. They will stop at nothing to cause anything horrific to place them in a position of advantage especially with the Tamil Diaspora.
It was the custom with some ancient tribes to sacrifice young females to their gods for favours to be granted. LTTE appears to have accepted this belief to the fullest and widest extent, and after all the entire movement has been built around the cult-style belief in Sun God and his thirst for blood is ravenous and insatiable.
Copyright © 2005 www.independentsl.com.
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