War Crimes-Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Posted on February 7th, 2014

Kanthar P (Nathan) Balanathan Retired Director & Specialist Power Systems Engineer Rowville, Melbourne

Hi Gemma Pearce

With due respect I would like to state that some countries are quite keen in speculating war crimes on GOSL.

Could it be a shortfall on the integrity of such media not to address the crimes committed by Tamils and their associated LTTE over the past 39 years?

Please see video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlyHohNl6DQ

Further I wish to humbly state that why such media are not keen enough to address the war crimes committed by USA and UK in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Please see the following video of an inside story of 9/11


Have you observed the way the building came down, as if it was blasted off (additional) for replacement construction of another building?

Please see the following video

How West destroyed Libya

·       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRQ6uqhLvz8

·       http://tribune-intl.com/?p=3144 / http://www.sriexpress.com/articles/item/761-entities-conspiring-to-deny-peace-in-sri-lanka.html

·       http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?menu=c10400&no=384786&rel_no=1

·       http://www.onlanka.com/news/are-ngos-foreign-funded-philanthropists-or-actors-of-regime-change.html

 Should David Cameron be Prosecuted for Recruiting Brits to Fight in Al Qaeda Ranks in Syria?


·        Indian War Crimes in Sri Lanka: IPKF Massacre of Tamil Doctors and Nurses inside Jaffna Hospital

·        http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2014/02/02/indian-war-crimes-in-sri-lanka-ipkf-massacre-of-tamil-doctors-and-nurses-inside-jaffna-hospital/

·        Investigate Indian War Crimes in Sri Lanka : RAPE of Tamil Women http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2014/02/01/investigate-indian-war-crimes-in-sri-lanka-rape-of-tamil-women/

·        Sri Lanka demands War Crimes against LTTE Terrorists and India’s IPKF – http://www.nation.lk/edition/special/item/6329-sri-lanka-demands-war-crimes-against-ltte-terrorists-and-india%E2%80%99s-ipkf.html#sthash.jHHtWMag.dpuf

·       http://bharatabharati.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/no-genocide-of-tamils-in-sri-lanka-mr-yashwant-sinha-shenali-waduge/


Historically, assumptions and decisions are made to favour some country who may be neo-colonialists.

Let us fight for justice and bring all to justice.

Why not talk about WMD and the insider job of 9/11 as per RT’s campaign?

I love Australia and a patriotic Australian.

Kind Regards,

Kanthar P (Nathan) Balanathan

DipEE(UK), GradCert(RelEng-Monash), DipBusAdm(Finance-Massey), CEng, MIEE, MIE(Aust), CPEng.

Retired Director & Specialist Power Systems Engineer

Rowville, Melbourne


7 Responses to “War Crimes-Public Interest Advocacy Centre”

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    PLEASE P L E A S E read this 2004 UN report
    My parents refused to give me to the LTTE so about fifteen of them came to my house-it was both men and women, in uniforms, with rifles, and guns in holsters.I was fast asleep when they came to get me at one in the morning.These people dragged me out of the house.My father shouted at them, saying, “What is going on?”, but some of the LTTE soldiers took my father away towards the woods and beat him.They also pushed my mother onto the ground when she tried to stop them.

    -girl recruited by the LTTE in 2003 at age sixteen

    They took away my younger brother the other day.He was coming home from the market and he was taken away.I went and begged them, saying, “I gave you years of my life and I gave you my health.Please let me have my brother back-he is the only one I have who takes care of me, helps me to go to the toilet, helps me get into bed.”They didn’t release him, and they threatened to shoot if I reported his abduction to any NGOs.They also told me at the same time that I had to re-join.Is this how they thank me for all the time I gave them?Why are they doing this to me?

    -girl who was recruited by the LTTE at age sixteen and severely disabled in combat

    For Tamil families in the North and East of Sri Lanka, the February 2002 cease-fire that has brought an end to the fighting between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has brought little relief from one of the worst aspects of the twenty-year conflict: the LTTE’s recruitment and use of children as soldiers. Despite an end to active hostilities and repeated pledges by the LTTE leadership to end its recruitment of children, the practice has continued not only in LTTE controlled areas, but now reaches into government areas in the North and East where the LTTE previously had little access. This report focuses on continued LTTE recruitment of children during the cease-fire period, including re-recruitment of children released from the LTTE’s eastern faction in 2004.

    Tamil children are vulnerable to recruitment beginning at the age of eleven or twelve. The LTTE routinely visits Tamil homes to inform parents that they must provide a child for the “movement.” Families that resist are harassed and threatened. Parents are told that their child may be taken by force if they do not comply, that other children in the household or the parents will be taken in their stead, or that the family will be forced to leave their home. The LTTE makes good on these threats: children are frequently abducted from their homes at night, or picked up by LTTE cadres while walking to school or attending a temple festival. Parents who resist the abduction of their children face violent LTTE retribution.

    Once recruited, most children are allowed no contact with their families. The LTTE subjects them to rigorous and sometimes brutal training. They learn to handle weapons, including landmines and bombs, and are taught military tactics. Children who make mistakes are frequently beaten. The LTTE harshly punishes soldiers who attempt to escape. Children who try to run away are typically beaten in front of their entire unit, a public punishment that serves to dissuade other children who might be tempted to run away.

    The Norwegian government-brokered cease-fire between the government and the LTTE in February 2002 brought a very welcome end to active hostilities that have cost more than 60,000 lives over twenty years. However, the cease-fire may have exacerbated the LTTE’s recruitment of child soldiers from government-controlled areas. By the terms of the cease-fire, unarmed LTTE cadres may lawfully enter government controlled areas, known as “cleared” areas. In reality the LTTE dominates the administration and security of the major towns in the North and East, including Jaffna and Batticaloa. The LTTE has used this control to extend their recruitment of children to these Tamil population centers.

    Throughout the cease-fire, the LTTE has sought new recruits for its forces. The LTTE may be trying to strengthen its hand during the peace talks, prepare for its control of the North and East in the event of a final peace agreement, or be militarily prepared in the event the peace talks collapse-or for all of these reasons. Sri Lankan government sources and local nongovernmental organizations believe that the LTTE has recruited several thousand new cadres during this period, though hard figures are elusive.

    As of October 31, 2004, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had documented 3,516 new cases of underage recruitment since the signing of the cease-fire agreement (including the re-recruitment of formerly released child soldiers noted below). The LTTE formally released only 1,206 children during this time. Of the cases registered by UNICEF, 1,395 were outstanding as of November 2004.[1] UNICEF notes that the number of cases it registers represent only a portion of the total number of children recruited, as some families may be unaware of the possibility of registering, may be afraid to do so, or may have difficulty reaching a UNICEF office. Of the children who have been released or returned from the LTTE, only about 25 percent were previously listed in the UNICEF database. This suggests that the total number of children remaining with the LTTE may be as much as four times higher than the 1,395 figure suggests.

    In March 2004, the commander of LTTE forces in the East, V. Muralitharan, popularly known as Col. Karuna, split off from the main LTTE forces loyal to supreme leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, based in the North, a region known as the Vanni. In April 2004, the Vanni LTTE attacked and defeated Karuna’s eastern forces, which quickly disbanded. Some 2,000 child soldiers under Karuna fled or were encouraged by their commanders to return to their families.

    The children’s return home, primarily to Batticaloa district, only marked the beginning of a new ordeal. Within a few weeks, the LTTE began an intensive campaign to re-recruit Karuna’s former cadres, including child soldiers. Vanni LTTE members, often armed and in uniform, went from village to village, house to house, insisting that the former soldiers report back to the LTTE. The LTTE organized village meetings, use motorized three-wheeled vehicles to make announcements, and sent letters to families, demanding their return.

    The LTTE has re-recruited many of the returned children, often by force. Parents who have resisted their children’s being taken away a second time by the LTTE have been intimidated and sometimes beaten. The remaining children and their families live in fear. The families are afraid to allow their children to return to school, worried that the LTTE will abduct them as they walk between school and their home. Some children refuse to leave their homes at all. Others go to live with relatives or even leave the country to seek jobs in the Middle East. Because there is a general perception that the LTTE does not recruit from among married persons, some boys and girls have married believing that it will provide a measure of protection against recruitment. Girls feel particularly vulnerable-they can instantly be identified as former cadres by the short haircuts that the LTTE gives its recruits.
    LTTE Recruitment and Use of Children Before the Cease-fire

    The LTTE has recruited and used children as soldiers throughout the two-decade-long civil war in Sri Lanka, and especially since October 1987 when the LTTE attacked and eventually forced the departure of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force from the northern Jaffna peninsula.[2]

    LTTE recruitment of children has over the years been fueled by several factors. First, a sophisticated LTTE propaganda machine regularly exposed Tamil children throughout the North and East to special events honoring LTTE heroes, parades of LTTE cadres, public displays of war paraphernalia, and speeches and videos, particularly in the schools. Families of LTTE heroes were afforded special respect, and children were drawn to the status and glamour of serving as cadres.

    Second, children who witnessed or suffered abuses by Sri Lankan security forces often felt driven to join the LTTE. Government abuses prior to the cease-fire included unlawful detention, interrogation, torture, execution, enforced disappearances, and rape. A 1993 study of adolescents in Vaddukoddai in the North found that one quarter of the children studied had witnessed violence personally.[3] In response, many children joined the LTTE, seeking to protect their families or to avenge real or perceived abuses.

    Third, deprivation, including poverty and lack of vocational and educational opportunities often fueled recruitment, particularly among Tamils of the eastern districts, where families were typically poorer and considered of lower status than Tamils in the

    North. Enlisting in the LTTE was perceived as a positive alternative to the other options children saw around them.

    Finally, coercion and force brought many children into the LTTE. Particularly in the East, the LTTE has pressured Tamil families to provide a son or daughter for “the cause.” If a family resisted, they were often subject to threats and harassment. In many cases, a child was eventually taken by force.

    Under international law, recruitment of children to be soldiers is not only unlawful if the children are forcibly recruited. The LTTE is also violating international law by accepting into its ranks children who join “voluntarily.”

    Children were initially recruited into what was known as the “Baby Brigade,” but were later integrated into other units. An elite “Leopard Brigade” (Siruthai puligal) was formed of children drawn from LTTE-run orphanages and was considered one of the LTTE’s fiercest fighting units.

    UNICEF reports that more than 40 percent of children recruited by the LTTE are girls.[4] The LTTE claims that the recruitment of girls and women is a way of “assisting women’s liberation and counteracting the oppressive traditionalism of the present system.”[5] Female soldiers within the LTTE are known as “Birds of Freedom.” Unlike many other conflict situations where girls are recruited, sexual abuse of girls in the LTTE is rare, and relationships between the sexes are generally prohibited.

    Prior to the cease-fire, the LTTE regularly deployed both boys and girls in combat.[6] A major LTTE military operation against the ElephantPass military complex in 1991 reportedly used waves of children drawn from the Baby Brigade and resulted in an estimated 550 LTTE deaths, mostly children.[7] Assessments of LTTE soldiers killed in combat during the 1990’s found that between 40 and 60 percent of the dead fighters were children under the age of eighteen.[8] A case study conducted for a major United Nations (U.N.) study on the impact of war on children found that children were reportedly used for “massed frontal attacks” in major battles, and that children between the ages of twelve and fourteen were used to massacre women and children in remote rural villages. The study cited reports indicating the use of children as young as ten as assassins.[9]

    The LTTE gives cyanide capsules and grenades to its soldiers, including children, with instructions to take the capsule or blow themselves up rather than allow themselves to be captured by the Sri Lankan Army.[10]

    The LTTE was among the first armed opposition groups to use its cadres, including children, to carry out suicide bomb attacks. Since the 1980’s, the LTTE has conducted some 200 such suicide bombings.[11] Female soldiers, girls among them, were used for numerous such attacks, in part because they were less likely to undergo rigorous searches at government checkpoints.
    LTTE Commitments and the Action Plan for Children Affected by War

    Since 1998, the LTTE has made repeated public promises to senior U.N. officials to end its recruitment and use of children. In 2003, the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government formally agreed on an Action Plan for Children Affected by War (Action Plan) that included a pledge by the LTTE to end all recruitment of children and to release children from its forces, both directly to the children’s families as well as to new transit centers that were constructed specifically for this purpose.

    As of mid-2004, the Action Plan was the only signed human rights agreement to result from the post-cease-fire peace talks. The Action Plan provided for the establishment of three transit centers to receive children released by the LTTE, and to provide children affected by the conflict in the North and East with vocational training, education, health and nutritional services, psychosocial care, and other programs. The LTTE and the government agreed on the plan in April 2003 and formally signed it in June 2003.UNICEF played a primary role in negotiating the Action Plan, and is the main implementing partner.

    Since the Action Plan was signed, UNICEF figures show that more than twice as many children have been recruited as have been released. One transit center opened in October 2003, but received a total of only 172 children in its first year of operation. Although the center has the capacity for one hundred children, it has never held more than forty-nine, and for a six-week period in mid-2004, was completely empty. The two other transit centers were constructed but never opened because of the low number of children released.[12]
    Legal Standards

    By any measure, the LTTE has failed to meet its commitments to end its recruitment and use of children. The LTTE’s continued recruitment of children violates international human rights and humanitarian law (the laws of war) that explicitly prohibits the recruitment of children as soldiers and the participation of children in active hostilities. The nearly-universally ratified Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Sri Lanka is party, and the Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibit any recruitment or use in armed conflict of children under the age of fifteen. This standard is now considered customary international law, and such recruitment is identified as a war crime in the statute for the International Criminal Court.

    In the late 1990’s, a new international consensus that a minimum age of fifteen was too low for military service resulted in stronger standards.The Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, adopted by the International Labor Organization in 1999, prohibits the forced recruitment of children under the age of eighteen for use in armed conflict as one of the worst forms of child labor. An Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the U.N. in 2000 and ratified by Sri Lanka in the same year, set eighteen as the minimum age for all participation in hostilities, all forced recruitment or conscription, and all recruitment by non-state armed groups.
    Note on Methodology

    This is Human Rights Watch’s fifteenth report on the recruitment and use of child soldiers. We have previously documented this practice in Angola, Burma, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Uganda.

    Human Rights Watch conducted research for this report in Sri Lanka in August 2004 and subsequently by telephone and electronic mail from New York and the Hague. Our researchers visited Colombo, Batticaloa, Ampara, Trincomalee, and Kilinochchi. During the course of our investigation, we spoke with thirty-five former child soldiers from the LTTE, who had been recruited between the ages of twelve and seventeen. At the time of our interviews, they ranged in age from fourteen to twenty-one.Most had been recruited between 2001 and 2004 and spent between three weeks and eight years with the LTTE. The average length of time in the LTTE for these children was approximately 2.7 years.

    We also conducted over forty other interviews for this report, speaking to parents, human rights activists, representatives of local and international nongovernmental organizations and representatives of UNICEF, the LTTE-dominated Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM). We also spoke with representatives of the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

    The names of all children have been changed in this report in order to protect their privacy, and because of the very real threats of re-recruitment and reprisals that they face. Also for security reasons, we do not identify many of the other individuals and organizations interviewed for this report or name the location of some interviews or events.

    In this report, the word “child” refers to anyone under the age of eighteen.

    To the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE):

    Immediately stop all recruitment of children, including efforts to re-register or re-recruit child ex-combatants from Karuna’s forces;
    Release all children from LTTE forces and give those recruited before age eighteen the option to leave:
    Inform families throughout the North and East of Sri Lanka of the LTTE’s commitment not to recruit children under the age of eighteen through public announcements and use of the local media, including the LTTE’s own media channels, and ensure that all recruitment materials clearly identify eighteen as the minimum age for recruitment;
    Take all appropriate steps to ensure LTTE commanders and other cadres do not recruit children under the age of eighteen into LTTE forces, “voluntarily” or otherwise and provide the international community (through UNICEF) with documentation of disciplinary actions taken against LTTE cadre responsible for such recruitment;
    Fulfill all commitments agreed under the Action Plan for Children Affected by War;
    Approve for immediate dissemination the child rights awareness campaign messages submitted to the LTTE by UNICEF in January of 2004;
    Allow UNICEF access to all military training camps to assess the age of recruits, and identify children for demobilization;
    Create a high-level task force to resolve outstanding cases of under-age recruitment;
    Establish a hotline or rapid response mechanism to act on reports of new recruitment and designate focal points in each district who will be accountable for acting on any complaints;
    Publish the status of inquiries into cases raised by UNICEF on a routine basis.

    To the Tamil Diaspora:
    Express public opposition to the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict by the LTTE and other serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Sri Lanka.
    Ensure that funds provided to organizations in Sri Lanka do not directly or indirectly benefit the LTTE so long as it recruits and uses child soldiers or otherwise commits serious rights violations;


    The February 2002 cease-fire agreement signed by the LTTE and the government explicitly prohibited abduction, harassment, and intimidation against civilians.[13] However, since the cease-fire the LTTE has continued to recruit children, often by force, and to pressure and threaten families that resist. Between the signing of the cease-fire agreement and November 2004, UNICEF documented 3,516 cases of child recruitment by the LTTE, with the largest number taking place in Batticaloa district in the East. The actual number of children recruited by the LTTE may be significantly higher.[14] Sri Lankan government officials and local human rights organizations believe several thousand new recruits, including many children, were added to the LTTE ranks following the start of the cease-fire, though this cannot be confirmed.

    A UNICEF representative in Trincomalee told Human Rights Watch, “An enormous recruitment drive began with the cease-fire. Reporting increased, and we received SOS calls from schools. The LTTE had access to government controlled areas like never before.”She reported that in Trincomalee district, recruitment was so intense in 2002 that less than 50 percent of students were going to school. Many parents kept their children at home out of fear that they would be recruited while walking to and from school.[15]

    Under the cease-fire agreement, the LTTE was allowed to open political offices in government-controlled areas, effectively providing it with access to new recruits.[16] While the LTTE claims that these offices are used to educate people about the LTTE, local human rights activists believe that the offices are used for recruitment purposes, including forced recruitment of children. The senior superintendent of police in Trincomalee told Human Rights Watch that in July 2004 the LTTE had opened four or five such offices in Trincomalee that are used for recruitment.[17]

    Many Tamil families felt that with an end to hostilities between the LTTE and government forces, there was no longer a need to offer their children for service. Instead, since the cease-fire agreement, the LTTE has sought to increase the size of its forces. The LTTE may be trying to strengthen its hand during the peace talks, prepare for its control of the North and East in the event of a final peace agreement, or be militarily prepared in the event the peace talks collapse-or for all these reasons.

    Recruitment through threats, coercion, and abduction have been commonplace. Harendra de Silva, chair of the National Child Protection Authority, told us that since the cease-fire, children are more likely to be forcibly recruited into the LTTE:

    People see no reason to give their children to the LTTE if they don’t perceive themselves at risk by the government. So the LTTE resorts to abduction. In 1994, I found that one in nineteen child recruits was abducted. Now in 2004, the reverse is true and only one in nineteen is a volunteer.[18]

    In Batticaloa district, Human Rights Watch received numerous reports of the LTTE seeking to secure one child from each Tamil household. The LTTE communicates this “quota” through letters, house to house visits, radio announcements, and community meetings. Families that refuse to hand over a child are often subjected to more coercive measures, including threats against the child’s parents, burning of houses, and abduction.

    One girl, recruited in 2002 at age fifteen, told Human Rights Watch:

    After school, I went to extra class in the evening with about fifteen students. We were abducted the same day while walking to extra class. All of us were fifteen years old. Each house had been told to hand over one child. The LTTE had already issued the order, but the parents had ignored it. First, they sent letters, then they started to visit homes. They came to my house and said, “You know about our announcement. Each house has to turn over one child. If you don’t agree, we will take a child anyway.”

    One day they came. The tuition class is held near the LTTE camp, so it was easy to take us. They took me to a girls’ training center. On the first day, we were told, “We already announced that each home has to give one child. Your family didn’t agree. We have already taken girls from your village, except for you fifteen. After training, you can work in your village like us.”[19]

    Another girl, Sakuntala, told us that after receiving a letter from the LTTE requesting one child from the family, the family decided to leave the area. After the family’s departure, the LTTE burned the family’s house, along with the houses of about fifteen other families who had left for similar reasons. The family returned after five months. Within a week of their return in 2002, the LTTE returned, looking for Sakuntala, then fifteen. She said, “This time they insisted. My parents said ‘We can’t give you,’ but I was afraid they would take my sister, so I agreed to go. They took five others from the village. All were girls about my age.”[20]

    Malar described how she traded herself in for her father’s release from LTTE detention after the LTTE demanded that she join them when she was fourteen:

    The LTTE were having a recruitment drive at that time, and they came to my village and announced that I and my sister had to join them.My sister was very scared and so was my mother.My father had been taken away by them a few days before.My father is fifty years old and has arthritis.I thought that to make it safer for them, I would volunteer myself.I told my mother that I would join.

    So my mother and I went to the LTTE political office, and I told them that if they released my father, I would join them.They agreed and let my father go.We were all hugging and kissing and crying after he was released.I stayed at the political office.From there they took us (about seventy new recruits) to a training camp at Pullumanai.Of the group of seventy new recruits, I think about ten or so were young kids.[21]

    Another witness, Rangini, described the physical force used against her and her family when they resisted recruitment in June 2003 when she was sixteen:

    The LTTE had a recruitment process going on in my village where they went around asking for us to join.My parents refused to give me to the LTTE so about fifteen of them came to my house-it was both men and women, in uniforms, with rifles, and guns in holsters. I was fast asleep when they came to get me at 1:00 in the morning.First they knocked on my door, and my mother opened the door thinking it was my aunt…. These people dragged me out of the house.My father shouted at them, saying, “What is going on?”, but some of the LTTE soldiers took my father away towards the woods and beat him. They also pushed my mother onto the ground when she tried to stop them.[22]

    Children are often targeted for recruitment when about fifteen years of age. One former child soldier told us she was assigned to recruit others into the LTTE. She said:

    I was told I had to capture two children or I wouldn’t be given food. I thought, “I was captured, so why should I do that to another child?” Usually we would try to capture people around age fifteen, with a little larger size. They said, “We send you to the temple festival, and each has to get two.” They said to get people about fifteen years old, but with a build of a certain amount of strength. They said, “Don’t bring people who are married.”[23]

    Younger children are also frequently recruited. Human Rights Watch interviewed several children who were taken by the LTTE at age twelve or thirteen. Saraswathy, abducted at age twelve, told us, “The LTTE came to our home at midnight. At the time, my family said no, but they tried to beat my parents, so I agreed.”[24]One witness described how, when she was thirteen, she joined the LTTE because she wanted to be like the older teenage girls who had joined and who would come through the villages talking to younger girls about joining.[25]All the children we interviewed reported that the LTTE recorded their names and dates of birth at the time of recruitment.

    A man from outside Vallechenai in Batticaloa district reported witnessing the attempted recruitment of an eleven-year-old girl in early August 2004.

    It was about 5 p.m. I was walking along a road and saw people from the LTTE come on a tractor. There was a child going to tuition classes. I saw the LTTE speak with the child and understood that the LTTE was forcing the girl to join with them. I got near the group and the LTTE stopped talking. But then I asked the girl what had happened to her and the LTTE took the girl. But I grabbed her. They had a gun and they hit me with the butt of the gun so that I released her. But I grabbed her again and put her in my house. The girl was eleven years old. She wanted to study.[26]

    Many children of twelve or thirteen are taken directly for training, although some younger children are put into a special unit-referred to as the “chicken” unit-and spend significant parts of their days in classes.One sixteen-year-old who had been forcibly recruited at age fourteen, told us that life in her unit was similar to school, with classes every day and female teachers similar in age to those in her regular school.[27]Other young children, particularly those from very poor families, who seek to join the LTTE may be first sent to LTTE-run orphanages.At the orphanages, they attend school, but then spend holidays at LTTE camps until they are older and become full-time cadres.[28]

    The LTTE demand for one child from each Tamil family does not in practice mean that they only take one child. Some children have found that having another sibling serving in the LTTE does not always offer protection against recruitment. Indra, then fifteen, was approached by the LTTE when she went to a local shop. She said, “They told me ‘You have to join with us.'” Indra had an older brother who joined the LTTE at age eighteen and spent nine years with the movement. She said:

    I told them, “My brother is already in the LTTE,” but they didn’t listen to me. They took me by force in a van.I was crying. My parents heard I was taken and ran to the camp. The LTTE said, “We did not take any girls today.” I was already in the camp. They kept me in a closed room. I kept crying continuously, saying “I want to go home; I want to go home.”[29]

    Another girl said that her brother, who is only now seventeen years old, was abducted in 2001; she was forced to join two years later, at age thirteen.[30]

    Hindu temple festivals are frequent sites for LTTE recruitment because they draw large numbers of people, including children, who can be easily approached by the LTTE. On July 31, 2004, just a few days before Human Rights Watch’s visit to Batticaloa, the LTTE recruited an estimated twenty-six people, mostly children, from the festival at the Thandamalay Murugan temple.Local human rights groups had warned UNICEF and other international groups that temple festivals were traditional recruitment sites for the LTTE, but no extra monitoring was in place when the festivals started.[31]The next morning, a group of parents went to the LTTE political office, demanding the release of their children.The parents were told that they should go to the LTTE’s Meenagam camp the next day where they would be allowed to see their children.The parents informed UNICEF and local human rights groups about the abductions as well.

    The next morning, the parents together with local human rights groups went to Meenagam camp.After they waited several hours, Col. Kaushalyan, the LTTE local area commander, arrived on his motorbike.Initially, he refused to speak with the parents, and addressed only the joint local and international human rights groups’ representatives.They described Kaushalyan as aggressive and uncooperative, offering no explanations nor answers to their questions.[32]Kaushalyan also talked briefly to a UNICEF protection officer.[33]After that, the human rights representatives were told to leave, and the parents were invited into the camp by Kaushalyan.The children were released later that same afternoon.

    The release of the children did not put an end to the families’ fears. We learned that the families had been instructed not to repeat either what they had been told by Kaushalyan at the camp nor what the children had been through during the days they were held by the LTTE.The intimidation and fear generated by the LTTE in these families was palpable.

    While the release of this particular group of children was welcome, human rights activists pointed out that this case was anomalous, and perhaps was the result of the presence of UNICEF and the international human rights groups. Following this incident, UNICEF and several international human rights groups agreed to physically monitor the temple festivals on-site and around the clock for the duration of the festival.

    Some children decide on their own to join the LTTE. Many are from very poor families and believe they have few other prospects. It is the responsibility of the LTTE to reject such children. Vanmathi, who joined in 2003 when she was sixteen, explained that:

    I went to school to grade 5. I dropped out because my mother and father died. No one cared for me, I had no parents, so I was willing to join. I lived with my aunt after my parents died. I cooked for her family. I had frustration in my life, so I was willing to join the LTTE. I wanted to live in this world without anyone’s help.When I joined the LTTE, I went to the political office, and told the LTTE I wanted to join. They agreed. I told them I was sixteen, but they didn’t care.[34]

    A mother whose daughter joined the LTTE without her knowledge explained:

    My daughter was fourteen when she joined the LTTE. My husband died. We had no income. No food. Other neighbors encouraged the children to join the LTTE. She went with a neighbor. I was in the paddy field. I came back and searched everywhere and then someone told me that she went with the LTTE.[35]

    Another girl mentioned that she joined the LTTE because her best friend was going to join.She said she herself knew nothing about the LTTE when she joined but her friend, who came from a physically abusive home, had been convinced that the LTTE was the only option for a better life.[36]

    One boy who joined in 2002 at age fourteen explained that he felt “astrology said I should go. I said I was going to school, but instead I went to the LTTE without telling my mother.” He volunteered together with other friends from school, he said.[37]

    Some children are motivated by political beliefs or by government abuses against their families or communities. One boy, from Jaffna in the North, left school at age fifteen to join the LTTE because, he said, “I wanted a separate Eelam.”[38] Another boy from Jaffna said he was motivated to join the LTTE in July of 2004 at age sixteen because, “In 1991, the army burnt my house and raped women in my neighborhood. They tortured us.”[39]One witness, who joined voluntarily when she was sixteen years old explained her decision poignantly:

    When I was eight years old, my father and all four of my uncles were killed by the Sri Lankan Army (SLA).None of them had any links with the LTTE.They were normal simple Tamil men.From that day to now, we don’t know what happened to them. I had a lot of anger at the SLA because of that.Now, I am not so angry but I still want to know what happened to my father.[40]

    So-called “voluntary” recruitment has long been supported by LTTE propaganda campaigns in the school system. LTTE cadres frequently go into schools to speak about the LTTE, sometimes showing films that show LTTE service in a positive light.[41] For instance, according to the Trincomalee Senior Superintendent of Police, the LTTE in July 2004 provided area teachers and principals with exams on the history of the LTTE to give to their students. “They [LTTE] collect them afterwards. This is part of their propaganda work. The teachers and principals can’t refuse because they need to survive. They have to carry out their instructions.”[42]

    An international worker in Trincomalee said, “The LTTE calls these history lessons. We call them propaganda campaigns. The LTTE says it’s not recruitment, and if individuals choose to join afterwards, so be it. Principals don’t have a choice. The LTTE doesn’t ask permission, they just go.”[43]

    In August 2004, LTTE cadres went from village to village in Trincomalee district talking to every family.[44]The purpose of this campaign was unclear but it caused renewed fear in the villagers that their children might be abducted.These house-to-house visits were conducted by persons who identify themselves as members of the Vanni LTTE.Each family was asked detailed questions similar to questions asked in census surveys.Families who dared to say that they have no problems with the Sri Lankan Army were chastised.A local priest said that the LTTE cadres were telling each family that they had to give up one child per family if the war should resume.[45]

    The LTTE combines these family visits with street plays that are used as a propaganda tool, and have a particular appeal to children.One person who saw such a street play described the scene:

    It was a very emotional drama about the struggle, basically asking people to join the movement.There were all ages present in the audience, but it was really a drama for children.The story of the drama was that of a family-a father, mother, and two children.One child gets shot and killed by the SLA.The remaining child-in the drama, he was of school age, still a child-then decides to join the movement.In the drama, the mother resists and begs her remaining child not to join the movement, saying she only has one child left.The mother is hysterical.Then the father speaks.He is calm and rational, although also very sad.He talks to the mother, saying that the correct thing for them to do is to give their remaining child to the LTTE.[46]

    Recruitment drives are cyclical. Some observers believe that they are timed to LTTE training courses, with new recruitment drives taking place before a new training is to begin, to ensure a full complement of trainees

    Basic Training

    Former child soldiers told Human Rights Watch they were held at a local LTTE political office or camp for two or three days before being transported to a training camp. Males and females were separated for basic training, which often took place in groups of 250 to 300 young adults and children. Former child soldiers reported rigorous training, including physical exercise, weapons training, and military strategy. Errors or attempted escapes were met with harsh punishment.

    A girl recruited at age thirteen described her training experience:

    At the camp we did exercise. We got the metal parts for the weapons, and learned how to dismantle and put them back together again. We did target shooting. If we didn’t shoot at the correct target, then we were punished. We were hit. We had to do sit-ups. One punishment was to crawl on our elbows and knees. This happened to me. We also had to dig bunkers in the ground. We had training on war tactics: if there is an army camp, how to approach, kill, plan the attack.[48]

    Trainees said they typically rose at 4 a.m. to begin training. One girl, recruited in 2002 at age fifteen, said:

    The training was very difficult. They don’t care if it’s a rainy or sunny day. If you get too tired and can’t continue, they will beat you. Once when I first joined, I was dizzy. I couldn’t continue and asked for a rest. They said, “This is the LTTE. You have to face problems. You can’t take a rest.” They hit me four or five times with their hands.[49]

    Another former child soldier trained in late 2002 said, “The hardest thing was crawling to enter enemy camps. We learned to use weapons but not real bullets. I was very unhappy, but we couldn’t express our feelings.”[50]

    The youngest cadres being trained were often twelve or thirteen. One girl told us that at age twelve, she was the youngest in her training group, but that there were about ten other girls her age.[51] Another, recruited at age fifteen, reported that in her group, “The youngest was eleven. There were about nine that age. The youngest ones are given the same training [as older trainees]. Even if they can’t do it, they have to do it.”[52]Another witness, recruited at age fifteen, said that in her unit of about thirty-five girls at least twelve were “very young, very underage.”[53]

    One girl trained in 2002 at age thirteen said that, “I was unhappy and ill. Some of the training was easy to follow; some of it was very difficult. The hardest part was having to roll on the floor and jump over fences.”[54]
    Contact with Family

    Most of the former child soldiers Human Rights Watch interviewed said they were allowed no contact with their families during training. Aruna said, “I was homesick. I missed my brothers and sisters. My parents came to the camp to see me, but the LTTE did not allow me to see them. So for one year, I could not see my parents. Lots of times, my parents came to see me, but the LTTE would not allow it.”[55]

    Vimala said, “When we played together, I was happy, but at night, I worried about my family. My parents could not come to see me. They wouldn’t allow anyone to visit.”[56]

    Rangini, who was forcibly abducted in 2003 at age sixteen, described how she felt when her parents visited her for the first time:”I was very happy to see my mother but very unhappy when she left, even sadder than before.”[57]She was able to see her mother one more time, but that was completely by accident.Her mother had to report to the LTTE camp about the death of her uncle and was allowed to visit her daughter while at the camp.[58]

    Selvamani, recruited in 2002 at age fifteen, said, “I was with the LTTE for two and a half years. I only saw my parents twice. I was not allowed to write letters.”[59]
    Advanced Training

    After basic training, which typically lasts four to seven months, LTTE soldiers are assigned to units for further, specialized training, depending on what their superior officers have decided to be their particular strengths. Further training can include combat operations, use of specific weapons systems (including landmines, bombs, or heavy weapons), security (including providing personal security for senior cadres such as Karuna), intelligence, or non-military skills, including first aid or administration.Children with little education are frequently assigned to combat units, while children with more years of schooling may be more likely to be trained in medicine, intelligence, or administration.

    A young woman recruited at age nineteen described her medical training. “I learned first aid, how to prevent fever, to use saline bottles, and dress wounds. I studied for one year. After training, I was assigned to a group as a nurse and treated fever and minor wounds.”[60]One sixteen-year-old girl told us she was trained in front-line medical care.She considered herself lucky because she was able to learn English as part of the training.When the Vanni LTTE attacked Karuna’s forces, her unit was assigned to the front lines at Vaharai, but she managed to escape before the fighting began.[61]

    One former LTTE cadre described being sent for political propaganda work.She was later assigned to an LTTE political office where she worked until the split in the LTTE.[62]

    Vimala, recruited in 2003 at age seventeen, said:

    After four months I was sent to a landmines unit. I learned to handle landmines, to place them. I did this for four months. I couldn’t concentrate. Sometime a landmine would explode and children would be injured. Their fingers, hands, face. One time we were working in a line, and the last girl made a mistake when removing a landmine. It exploded and she lost a finger. She was seventeen. I was scared to handle them.[63]

    Nirmala, recruited at age fourteen, said:

    I was in a combat unit. I had nine children and was responsible for their training. Some were twelve or thirteen.The most difficult part was heavy weapons training, and using the RPG [rocket-propelled grenade launcher]. We also used bombs and landmines. We practiced placing [fake] landmines. If the opposing forces come and the landmines didn’t go off, you were supposed to sleep on the mines for punishment. In another drill, we were sent to find hidden Claymore [remote activated] mines. If we didn’t find them, we were forced to run for one to one and a half hours.[64]

    Another witness, forcibly recruited when she was fifteen years old, said that after receiving a head injury during frontline combat, she was re-trained to do other tasks.She received specialized training on LTTE administration and finance.She was also taught English.After her injury, she was not sent to the frontlines again, and instead did administrative work for the LTTE.[65]
    Punishment and Discipline

    Discipline in the LTTE is strict, and punishment for mistakes can be harsh. Manchula said, “After the first training I had special training on carrying heavy weapons. We carried them around the playground. One day I had cramps and fever and said I couldn’t come. They poured hot water on my body and back as punishment. This left a burn mark.”[66]

    The LTTE practices collective punishment, often punishing an entire group for the mistakes of one member. Ammani, who trained at age thirteen, said, “If you make a mistake or don’t follow orders, you are assigned difficult physical training. This happened to me once. One girl in my group made a mistake, so we were all punished.”[67]

    Vanmathi said that because she was an orphan, the LTTE “treated me very well.” But she was still held responsible for mistakes in her training group. “I had ten other cadres to train. If any of them made a mistake or tried to escape, I had to face punishment. Punishment could be being sent into the forest with two seniors for a beating.”[68]

    Punishment is particularly harsh for those who try to escape. Children who are caught are typically beaten in front of their training unit, in part as a warning to others. Nirmala said:

    Lots of people tried to escape. But if you get caught, they take you back and beat you. Some children die. If you do it twice, they shoot you. In my wing, if someone escaped, the whole group was lined up to watch them get beaten. I saw it happen, and know of cases from other groups. If the person dies, they don’t tell you, but we know it happens.[69]

    Several children said that they considered trying to run away but abandoned their plans when they saw the beatings others received. Selvamani said, “Some others tried to escape, and ran to their homes, so the LTTE was able to recapture them. They were tied and beaten.I thought about trying to escape, but saw others being beaten, so changed my mind.”[70]

    Since the cease-fire agreement was signed in February 2002, except for an occasional cease-fire violation, there has been no significant military combat between the LTTE and government forces. Very few of the former child soldiers interviewed by Human Rights Watch had any combat experience, since the large majority had been recruited in the two years since the cease-fire, or shortly before the cease-fire took effect.

    One young woman, who was twenty-one when we interviewed her, was recruited in the late 1990s at age sixteen and trained as a medic. She said she was exposed to combat many times:

    I participated in many battles. There are incidents I can never forget. I fought my first battle in 1998 in a Sinhala border area. When the soldiers got wounded, they would be left there screaming and I was supposed to treat them. There were times when I was about to get caught by the army, but I escaped. At that time, you always remember your home. I carried one grenade and one cyanide capsule. We were medical personnel; this was for our protection. When the army comes we were supposed to throw the grenade at them or blow ourselves up. There are plenty of times when this happened.[71]

    Another woman, who was forcibly recruited at the age of fifteen, told us she fought her first battle at the age of sixteen armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and no helmet.She was shot in the head during that battle.[72]Another woman experienced her first battle in 1997, at the age of sixteen, four months after she had been recruited.Although she was badly injured, she was sent to another frontline position after she had recovered.She contracted a serious illness after this second battle, and was in an LTTE hospital for an entire year, recovering.She said she was sent to the frontline two more times after this.[73]

    Vanji, who joined voluntarily at the age of sixteen, was severely disabled during combat on the frontlines.She is now very bitter about her experience:

    They took away my younger brother the other day.He was coming home from the market and he was taken away.I went and begged them, saying I gave you years of my life and I gave you my health.Please let me have my brother back-he is the only one I have who takes care of me, helps me to go to the toilet, helps me get into bed.They didn’t release him, and they threatened to shoot me if I reported his abduction to any NGOs.They also told me at the same time that I had to re-join.Is this how they thank me for all the time I gave them?Why are they doing this to me?[74]

    All the children interviewed who had experienced combat described themselves as having been very scared.

    Since the cease-fire, the LTTE has allowed some child soldiers to study after completing basic training. Most, however, appear to receive continuous military training. After basic training, they may receive six months of specialized training, followed by additional courses of military training.

    The LTTE’s Failure to Meet Its Commitments

    The LTTE has failed to meet its commitments to end its recruitment and use of children. Recruitment of children has continued during the cease-fire, and actually increased in government controlled areas. And children participated in the active hostilities between the Vanni LTTE forces and the breakaway Karuna faction. At the same time, the number of releases of children-both to the transit centers and directly to families-has fallen far short of the numbers anticipated under the Action Plan.

    Between January 2002 and November 1, 2004, UNICEF documented a total of 4,600 cases of under-age recruitment.[151] During the same period, the LTTE released only 1,208 children from its forces.[152] Even after the Action Plan went into effect, from June 2003 through September 2004, the number of new cases of recruitment or re-recruitment was more than double the number of children released.[153] As of November 1, 2004, of the cases of child recruitment documented by UNICEF, 1,395 cases were still outstanding.[154] Many of these individuals are presumably still with the LTTE.

    UNICEF has noted that the number of cases it registered represents only a portion of the total number of children recruited. Of the children who were released or returned from the LTTE, only about 25 percent were previously listed in the UNICEF database.

    The LTTE’s unwillingness to abide by the Action Plan was evident almost immediately. On October 3, 2003, the day that the first transit center was opened to receive released children, the LTTE handed over forty-nine children whom they said had joined voluntarily but were being returned because of their age. Hours later, according to well-confirmed reports, the LTTE abducted twenty-three children in one town in the East.[155]The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said they received more than eighty complaints of child recruitment by the LTTE during the month the transit center opened, and that the vast majority of the complaints were from the East.[156] The SLMM told the National Human Rights Commission that according to their investigations, only about 10 percent of all abductions were reported to them.[157]

    After the LTTE’s initial release of forty-nine children in October 2003, the number of children released to the transit center dropped significantly. In its first year of operation, the center received a total of only 172 children. Transit center staff told Human Rights Watch that although the center has the capacity for one hundred children, it had never held more than forty-nine, and for the six weeks between June 14 and July 29, 2004, the center was completely empty.[158]

    The profile of children the LTTE has released to the transit centers also suggests that they are not fully integrated members of the LTTE, or may even be recruited solely for the purpose of being released to the transit center. According to UNICEF, nearly 70 percent of the children released to the transit center has been with the LTTE for less than four months. Some were recruited only weeks or even days before their release. Of the five children Human Rights Watch was able to interview at the transit center during its visit in August 2004, only one had been with the LTTE for longer than two months. Both UNICEF and Save the Children believe that at least some of the children released were those that the LTTE no longer wanted, perhaps because of difficulties during training, or medical or disciplinary problems. We also observed that of the fifteen girls present at the center during our visit, all but one or two had long hair. Typically, female LTTE cadres are given very short haircuts almost immediately after arriving at the camp. Unless they were veteran cadres, the girls’ long hair may indicate that they were never recruited for the purpose of military service.

    The secretary-general of the LTTE’s peace secretariat, S. Puleedevan, told Human Rights Watch that the LTTE is “working very hard on this issue,” and denied that the LTTE practices forced recruitment. “We don’t ask people to join; they voluntarily come and join. There is no threat of forced recruitment. The LTTE is voluntarily giving their service to the people.” He conceded, “There may be some lapses. Some forces may force one or two children, but that doesn’t mean that the leadership is giving a green light to do those kind of forcible recruitment cases…. Abduction is marginal.”[159] Puleedevan did not address the issue that even “voluntary” recruitment of children violates the LTTE’s international law obligations.

    In a meeting with Human Rights Watch, the secretary-general of the LTTE’s political wing, S.P. Tamilselvan, referred to child soldiers and claimed that “We do not have such a phenomenon.”[160] He said that the LTTE did not practice forced recruitment of children: “We reject the term of forced recruitment. Nobody forces them…. No, definitely not, we do not do that.”[161] He acknowledged some that children sought to join the LTTE because of poverty, lack of educational and vocational opportunities, or because they had lost their parents and had no one to care for them, but claimed that when the LTTE discovers that a child is underage, the child is released to the transit center.

    Despite overwhelming evidence that the LTTE has been recruiting children for many years, Tamilselvan blamed Col. Karuna, claiming that Karuna’s recruitment of children was a primary reason that Prabkaharan took “disciplinary” action against him.He described Karuna’s recruitment of children as “cruel and merciless.” Tamilselvan also claimed that the children released from Karuna’s forces were “handed back to their parents” by the Vanni LTTE, even though accounts gathered by Human Rights Watch indicated that the vast majority either returned home on their own, or were encouraged to return by Karuna’s commanders.

    Tamilselvan, like Puleedevan, acknowledged to Human Rights Watch that there were some “lapses” of child recruitment and that the “leadership was not always very diligent in applying standards.”He said that in mid-September, the LTTE took disciplinary action against some individuals responsible for child recruitment, but did not provide details.

    Both Tamilselvam and Puleedevan complained that both UNICEF and the international community place too much importance on the child soldier issue.Puleedevan told Human Rights Watch:

    The child has a lot of rights; child soldiers are tenth or eleventh place. People tend to forget important rights and focus only on the child soldiers issue. Children can’t find anything tangible in their homes-no school, areas are under occupation. People don’t focus on this, only on child soldiers. We need to focus on why children are joining.[162]

    The head of a newly-established Northeast Commission on Human Rights (NECOHR)linked with the LTTE expressed concern regarding reports of under-age recruitment, saying, “The LTTE has to rectify these things…. We will work on this, no doubt about it.”[163] However, he also complained that the LTTE’s recruitment of children gets too much attention: “I agree with the international community that children should be protected from war, but in these reports, I only see accusations. The LTTE has done lots of good things, but always people talk about under-age recruitment.”

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To Nalliah Thayabharan: Thank you for the information. I copied it and saved it in my documents. I STRONGLY SUGGEST OTHERS SAVE THIS COMMENT FOR IT IS VERY USEFUL AGAINST THE TAMIL DIASPORA AND THE UN WHO REFUSES TO SEE THE STORIES MENTIONED BY Nalliah Thayabharan.

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    What stands out about the article is that the western and Indian media refuse to point to the crimes committed by the LITE nor even the point of how many Tamils that made up that human shield were killed by the LITE or in cross fire. The blame is only heaped on the Sri Lankan military.


  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:


  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Our bloody govt. is more UNGRATEFUL than Tamils.

    In 2011 China battled ON OUR BEHALF to save us. What did the GOSL do? Went to bed with disgusting ENDIA and sidelined China!

    Now we are BEGGING China again.

    At least this time, get China in and push Endia OUT.

    “External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris will visit China from February10 to 13 as a special envoy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to garner the much needed Chinese support.

    During the three-day visit on the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yee, the minister will meet Chinese Deputy President Li Yuanchao, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Li Baodong the Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of UN and HR Affairs.

    External Affairs Ministry sources said the US sponsored resolution that is likely to be presented at the March UNHRC sessions will be a main feature at the discussions and Sri Lanka would expect Chinese support to face the resolution.

    This year China became a member of the UNHRC. At the previous sessions when the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka was submitted, China had actively campaigned among member states with Chinese influence to defeat the motion.

    Last month during an email interview with Daily Mirror Chinese Ambassador Wu Jianghao said China will ‘unswervingly’ speak for Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions.

    The Ambassador said China recognised the progress achieved by the Sri Lankan Government and its people in economic and social development after the ‘internal conflict’ ended.

    Reiterating that China and Sri Lanka are true friends, he said a friend in need is a friend indeed. “We believe that Sri Lanka should be given more time and space to solve its problems by itself. In the days to come, we will continue to unswervingly speak for Sri Lanka at the UNHRC to uphold justice,” he said.”

    – dailymirror.lk

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    GLP is visiting China at a VERY CRUCIAL time.

    China held its FIRST EVER military drills in the Endian Ocean 2 days ago.

    Endia-Indonesia and Australia held a separate drill just a day ago.

    Things are hotting up between the 2 countries.

    SL has to GET RID of Endia now. We cannot play this DOUBLE GAME forever. I hope China DEMANDS SL to get rid of TOO MANY Endian interference in the country for it to support SL at UNHRC. Otherwise our fools will never do it.

  7. Nanda Says:

    Our fools have their money in ENdia. No ENdia End of money flow.
    SOmeone said “follow the money trail” , you will find answers to all “unbilievable” blunders.
    Our fools as samrter than us. We are the real fools.

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