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REPORT DESCRIBES HOW LTTE CONSCRIPTS PEOPLE JUST REACHED 17 AND 30 PER CENT OF RECRUITS ARE NOW DEAD

By Walter Jayawardhana

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since 2007 has been conscripting boys and girls who had just reached 17 for war and by now 30 percent of those recruited with the adults have been killed declares the a human rights body of the Tamils.

The University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) which has been constantly on the watch about child soldiers of the Tamil terrorist group says ,

“Assuming there are around 200 000 people or 40 000 families living under LTTE control, it places the number dead in this round of war roughly at the order of 5000. This would be fairly commensurate with other estimates from the Vanni, that about 30% of those conscripted in this round of war are, by now, dead.”

The report says those who have been put to fight by the LTTE are “virtual prisoners” of the LTTE and analysts say they could be extremely unwilling soldiers of a very low morale .
The bulletin describes how those recruits are taken by force to the LTTE army: “LTTE press gangs frequently invade homes before dawn carrying details about the residents, looking for those who have come of conscription age. A boy or girl reaching the age of 17 and failing to report to the LTTE could expect press gangs to turn up within two or three days. Others seen to be suitable are caught on the roads.”

The report further digs into details about the LTTE’s recruitment methods: “A year ago, Killinochchi AGA Nithyananthan was travelling on his motorcycle with his young daughter on the pillion. He was stopped by the LTTE and the girl was taken. Nothing more has since been heard of her.
“A Village Headman Pasupathy was asked for his daughters. He negotiated with the LTTE to take him and spare his two girls. The LTTE agreed and he went. Six months later the LTTE went to his home and took one of the girls. Not caring a thing for the father’s bitter feelings, the LTTE recruiters went around saying, “See now, this educated government officer Pasupathy has joined, why can’t you join?”

The report went on to say that the majority of the LTTE fighting forces newly recruited are taken by force and rarely there is a person who has voluntarily joined it: “The new conscripts, who hoped against hope that they could escape, are put through brainwashing. Given the political reality of a detested government, most are turned around. Since the LTTE sees the new conscripts as the most likely to attempt escape, they are plainly told, “You are here to die for the Nation. If you don’t die today, you may die some weeks later. So why not die now?” They are encouraged to volunteer for risky operations. Many of those dying on the front lines are the new conscripts – those who join voluntarily now are exceptional.”

The UTHR(J) also charged that LTTE soldiers injured and admitted at the Kilinochchi Hospital (financed and maintained by the Government of Sri Lanka) for treatment are quickly removed before they are fully recovered: “The injured from the frontlines are taken to Killinochchi Hospital in buses with windows blackened. After leaving them for a day, LTTE men come and pick up the ones who are fit to hobble about and take them back for military duties. This means that many placed on the frontlines are not fully fit to fight. Their camps being about 10 miles distant from the front, their food supply is also irregular.

“Recently, the LTTE was telling the people that the 1990-born were going to be the final batch obliged to join them and the war would then be over. But from 2007, the LTTE was in fact conscripting those who had reached 17. Presently they are appealing to those who are 16 to join voluntarily, but have not begun conscripting them.

“Families are also being pressurized to join the service of the LTTE as family units or to pay an exemption tax. We have not received details on how this will be enforced.”

The report said the LTTE in their conscription not only recruit children but does not spare even old people who are in their mid sixties and seventies: “For some time after the outbreak of the current round of war in 2006, old men in their late sixties and mid seventies were forced to do home defence training. Men who could barely walk were forced to train, tottering in an attempt to run, carrying poles (made at their expense) as substitutes for guns. Standing continuously on guard duty was unbearable torture. One septuagenarian got permission from an officer to place his bicycle against a tree and rest his back on the seat while on duty. Another officer came along and gave him a verbal lashing for resting on the bicycle seat. The practice of forcing elders was later stopped.”
While commenting on the training of school children in military activities the report also comments about the incident of the alleged bombing of school children by Colombo which was highlighted by the New York based Human Rights Watch as the bombing of an orphanage aided by pro-LTTE elements in the United Nations: “There was a long controversy about the 54 young schoolgirls killed in the aerial bomb attack on a camp in Vallipunam on 14th August 2006 where it was maintained that the girls were receiving first aid training. Residents now confirm that the girls were forcibly taken by the LTTE and the training was of a military nature.”

In this incident the pro-LTTE Tamil Net published bodies of the dead children, heaped up in the recognized military training center. The photos themselves showed evidence of a crude attempt to cover the military uniforms with sheets the girls were wearing when the photos were taken of the dead bodies.

The report says the Vanni people cannot be gainfully employed if they do not undergo military training. “An aspect of the militarisation and regimentation of life in the Vanni is that persons are allowed to work only if they have a card certifying that they had taken home-defence training. As most work is controlled by the LTTE, full salaries are paid only to those from martyrs’ families – i.e. ones where a member died fighting for the LTTE – the others get half salaries. All able males are forced to do border security duties five days a month or pay Rs. 5000 a month for exemption.
Life is thus made almost unbearable for those who do not fall in line with the LTTE. For those who do not fully conform, it is very difficult to leave the Vanni even for urgent medical treatment. Consequently the extreme bitterness against the LTTE also expresses itself in willingness to act as saboteurs and to set off landmines provided by the Sri Lankan Army.”

The people living under the LTTE cannot virtually have no private life since the Gestapo like intelligence units are constantly watching them the report says: “An aspect of the militarisation and regimentation of life in the Vanni is that persons are allowed to work only if they have a card certifying that they had taken home-defence training. As most work is controlled by the LTTE, full salaries are paid only to those from martyrs’ families – i.e. ones where a member died fighting for the LTTE – the others get half salaries. All able males are forced to do border security duties five days a month or pay Rs. 5000 a month for exemption.

“Life is thus made almost unbearable for those who do not fall in line with the LTTE. For those who do not fully conform, it is very difficult to leave the Vanni even for urgent medical treatment. Consequently the extreme bitterness against the LTTE also expresses itself in willingness to act as saboteurs and to set off landmines provided by the Sri Lankan Army.”

Regarding the spying on the society the report says: “Vanni is a place where there are intelligence units everywhere. There are intelligence units for education, for distribution of rations and supply, for agriculture, and for photography – all persons are photographed – besides the regular Pottu Amman’s intelligence. The Police do their own intelligence work.

If people are heard complaining or saying something that hints at criticism of the regime, often a policemen would walk up to them, warn them not to walk abreast and that if they want to talk they could come to the police station and talk.

“There are hardly any services but mainly extortion. The LTTE has virtually taken over all enterprises except those of dhobis (washermen) and barbers. Everyone selling something or doing a service must issue a receipt so that tax could be collected. The combined intelligence services prevent evasion. Receipts must be issued whether it is fixing a punctured bicycle tyre or selling a dried palm leaf pyramidal basket for steaming pittu. When the LTTE took over houses, and if the owners were lucky enough for the LTTE to agree to return them, they were given huge bills for fictitious improvements.

Another function of intelligence is to prevent people from listening to the Ithayaveenai Tamil programme broadcast by government radio, just as people outside browse TamilNet because they don’t believe the Defence Ministry’s propaganda. The LTTE punishes offenders by sending them to dig bunkers.”

The report also reveals how a whole society is being regimented by supervisor-informer officials called porupparlars : “Vanni is a place where there are intelligence units everywhere. There are intelligence units for education, for distribution of rations and supply, for agriculture, and for photography – all persons are photographed – besides the regular Pottu Amman’s intelligence. The Police do their own intelligence work.

If people are heard complaining or saying something that hints at criticism of the regime, often a policemen would walk up to them, warn them not to walk abreast and that if they want to talk they could come to the police station and talk.

“There are hardly any services but mainly extortion. The LTTE has virtually taken over all enterprises except those of dhobis (washermen) and barbers. Everyone selling something or doing a service must issue a receipt so that tax could be collected. The combined intelligence services prevent evasion. Receipts must be issued whether it is fixing a punctured bicycle tyre or selling a dried palm leaf pyramidal basket for steaming pittu. When the LTTE took over houses, and if the owners were lucky enough for the LTTE to agree to return them, they were given huge bills for fictitious improvements.

Another function of intelligence is to prevent people from listening to the Ithayaveenai Tamil programme broadcast by government radio, just as people outside browse TamilNet because they don’t believe the Defence Ministry’s propaganda. The LTTE punishes offenders by sending them to dig bunkers.”

 

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