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The news items concerning our Bulletin No 28 and related issues:

In reply to our Bulletin No 28 on the forced recruitment of child soldiers in Sri Lanka by the LTTE, a couple of organizations (Tamil University Students and Graduates Coordinating Committee of TNA (TUSGCC-Canada) and Association of Tamils of Eelam & Sri Lanka in the US ( Ilankai Tamil Sangam, USA )),  which are either front organizations or organizations sympathetic to the LTTE, have accused UTHR(J) of “malicious propaganda.”

Herewith we attach a number of news articles and statements by other independent organizations and news reports that further substantiate reports of these ongoing atrocities. We continue to emphasize our grave concern for the safety of the children of the marginalised and the poor in the North and East.

Furthermore, the articles continue to propagate the false claim that Prof. Jeevan Hoole is a member of UTHR(J). We are concerned that such claims place Prof. Jevan Hoole’s life in jeopardy. Questions regarding the history of UTHR(J) are addressed in “Link”. 

K.Sritharan & M.R.R. Hoole

I.  News items:

25). UN agency saves 60 Sri Lankan child soldiers from Tamil Tigers

24). Child soldiers a grave concern to the ICRC

23). Visiting Karikalan in his lair in East

22) Amnesty slams LTTE over child soldiers

21).Tiger rebels 'dragoon Tamil teenagers'

20).Sri Lanka rebels 'enlisting children'

19).Villagers are fleeing to Batticaloa Town

18).Sri Lankan Tamil Rebels Continue Forcible Conscription of Youths

17). Tigers launch recruitment amid Sri Lanka truce

16).Villagers flee as Tigers step up conscription

15).Tamil Tigers force families to provide child fighters, AFP

14). UNICEF slams Tigers

Child recruitment continuing under cover of ceasefire

13).Children Kidnapped to fight for Tamil army -The Times(UK)

12). Appeal LTTE to Stop Forced Conscription- TNA

11). Rights group asks Oslo to protect Tamil  civilians from LTTE

10). LTTE deny forced conscription charges

9).Peace process and the international community

8). President concerned about LTTE child recruitment

7). Chandrika damaging peace process: LTTE

6). SLMC seeks Norwegian intervention to stop LTTE extortions

5). University dons name child recruits

4). Child conscription reports taken up with LTTE: Govt

3). View point: Hawk and dove story

2). NPC calls for Concrete Actions towards a political solution

1).Appeal by Amnesty International

II. Orchestrated campaign against UTHR(J) by the pro LTTE publications:

(1). Canadian Tamil Students Urge Tamil Eelam Tamils to Protest against UTHR's Malicious Propaganda  [EelamNation, February 08/2002]

2). University Teachers for Human Rights - Jaffna Branch (UTHR-JB) Bulletins MALICIOUS PROPAGANDA?

I.  News items:

25. UN agency saves 60 Sri Lankan child soldiers from Tamil Tigers

COLOMBO (AFP) Thursday June 20- A UN agency said that more than 60 children recruited as soldiers by Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have been demobilised following its intervention.
The UN agency for children, UNICEF, said the youngsters were released over a period of one year after it took up the issue with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
"The organisation's efforts have resulted in successful disengagement of over 60 children," UNICEF said in a statement on Thursday. "However, much more needs to be done."
The LTTE has been accused of deploying a baby brigade despite 1998 assurances to UNICEF's Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict Olara Otunnu that no one under 18-years old would be used as a combatant.
A UNICEF spokesman said Otunnu was expected to visit Sri Lanka in August to review the situation with children in the island.
UNICEF officials met with the LTTE members in the rebel-held northern Wanni region recently "to explore further opportunities to protect the rights of children affected by the armed conflict," the agency said.
Last July, UNICEF's executive director Carol Bellamy accused the Tigers of breaking a pledge and continuing to recruit children, some as young as 10-years old.
She said the UN had failed in its efforts to intervene to stop the LTTE's recruitment and said Sri Lanka's decades-long separatist conflict had caused "immense suffering and violations of children's rights."
Both the international human rights watchdog Amnesty International and the local University Teachers' for Human Rights have repeatedly accused the Tamil Tigers of stepping up forced conscription of child soldiers despite a Norwegian-brokered truce in effect since February 23.
An Amnesty team is visiting Sri Lanka and is expected to take up the question of child soldiers with the LTTE.
Local and foreign rights groups have said the LTTE was abducting children and coercing families to send at least one child to join the rebels.

24. Child soldiers a grave concern to the ICRC

Ranmali Wijesuriya in Colombo, SLT 2.30 p.m Tuesday 2 April.

The International Committee of Red Cross says that the issue of child soldiers is of grave concern to them through out the country and particular in the Wanni and East. In their recent newsletter ICRC says that International Humanitarian law is quite definite on this, that parties to a conflict shall refrain from recruiting children under 15 years of age, for integration into their troops and that it implies clearly that children shall not be incorporated either forcibly or voluntarily and those between 16 and 18 who would have been already recruited, shall not be sent in priority to the battlefield. ICRC says that if they are approached by a family member regarding the case of a boy or a girl under the age of 15 years who has been recruited, they will with the consent of a family member concerned and on his or her behalf will intercede with the appropriate party. i.e.LTTE, in order to lead them to take necessary action to enable the child to return home. ICRC maintains that that the responsibility of allowing the recruited children back home lies entirely under the relevant authorities. ICRC follows the international human law and the Geneva Convention in defining the age of a child. However the optional protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflict which was introduced in May 2000 and became a legally binding instrument on 12 February 2002 states that a person must be 18 years old before he or she can take part in hostilities.

23). Visiting Karikalan in his lair in East

Paul Harris, Colombo correspondent of London Daily Telegraph, calls on the LTTE political leader, April 1, 2002:

These LTTE people are oh, so charming. With their cheery smiles, mild manners warm open features and welcoming handshakes they are straight from the Saatchi & Saatchi public relations manual for Transformation of Terrorist Leaders into Genial Uncle Figures. They make the government Information Department chaps look like grumpy ogres. Who could possibly think that friendly, limping man Mr Thamil Chelvam was such a rotter ? Then there's that nice man Mr Karikalan who holds court over the eastern province from his remote fastness in Kokkadicholai.

He greets you with a firm handshake, beaming genially from behind a pair of designer spectacles. He reminds you of Mole, rather than Ratty, from Wind in the Willows. Such a nice man . . .Somewhere in the background is that rather tasty looking girl, Banuka. I first noticed her at the Batticaloa Pongu Thamil. She gave a dynamic, powerful performance haranguing the crowd. It was infinitely more effective than that of all the politicos put together. And it was oh, so sexy. A sort of beautiful version of Margaret Thatcher. I have definitely developed a crush on her (Banuka not Margaret Thatcher). She's an absolute cracker. In more ways than one. Apparently, she sends the female cadres out into the eastern province to deal severely with male 'eve teasers'. They beckon rude boys into back streets for hoped for hanky panky, then beat them to pulp with karate chops. On second thoughts, I think I'll leave her alone. But I'll still have fantasies about her . . .

Welcome to Kokkadi-cholai. It's a nothing place. But it is the nerve centre of LTTE civil operations in the east as the HQ of political chief of the east Karikalan. That bad egg the military chief Karuna works at another location in the area known as 'Beirut'. Mr Karikalan's previous guests - a couple or dozen of them - were a group of cap-in-hand contractors from Batticaloa seeking permissions and signatures on their contracts for work in the government, cleared areas. He'a a powerful chap Mr Karikalan. Some say he's even number two to old Prabhakaran. That probably explains the slightly disturbing presence of a cadre with a loaded American M-16 assault rifle and four spare clips contained in webbing strapped to his body. I was also a bit unnerved by the fact we were being comprehensively photographed and videoed from all angles. I guess there's now my own personal LTTE file. I just hope Tamil Eelam doesn't actually encroach on Colombo. If so, I'm on the first chopper off the roof of the US Embassy.

Karikalan, in his early forties, was born in the eastern town of Kalamanchudi and joined the LTTE in 1984 when he was working as an engineer in Batticaloa. Like all top LTTE cadres he is a man of enormous intelligence, political skill and cunning. He is not a man, however, I would willingly get on the wrong side of. There is a perceptible iciness behind the charm; a steely resolution which shines through the affability; a man not to be trifled with.

In conversation, he was however, remarkably frank. Surprisingly so, indeed. If he is to be believed, the outlook would appear to be distinctly bleak for the 300,000 Muslims of the east; an independent state of Tamil Eelam still remains the "ideal" but there just might be an interim compromise; forced conscription of schoolchildren was denied and the US criticisms of the LTTE were vigorously rejected and construed as a threat; India should be involved in the peace process and Rajiv Gandhi simply got his just desserts . . .
It's the Muslims who should be worried. "Muslims have used sharp trading practices and make excessive profits from the Tamils, especially during their festivals . . . Muslims are preparing for war. The Jihad organisation was importing arms when Mr Ashraff was Minister of Ports. Now there are stockpiles of arms in every village."

Despite this perceived threat, "We will create a condition under which they can maintain religious and cultural rights." Apparently, 100,000 Muslims were simply "asked" to leave Jaffna following the Therrakovil massacre near Ampara. Accordingly, they conveniently left in 1990 "for their own protection".

In terms of the east, "The Muslims' geographical position means they have no alternative but to live with the Tamils . . . settlement patterns mean it is impossible to have separate structures. Such a demand will only antagonise the two communities. Muslims must have faith in Prabhakaran. If he tells the cadres not to act against them then they will not dare." Fine, so far as it goes. What if . . .

And most ominously, "Tamil youths want to retrieve lands grabbed by the Muslims."
The official LTTE view is that, "For a nationality to have a land of its own it must have its own language, separate culture and continuous territory."

Ranil will be relieved to hear that the State of Tamil Eelam is regarded as "a distant ideal" ['ladchiyam' in Tamil]. "For the moment we will be prepared to settle for something else." He was not specific on that "something else" but it could be a form of "self-rule, autonomy where Tamils can realise their aspirations." "If you ask us, we will say we want Tamil Eelam. It is for the government to present an alternative which we will consider.. . Let's get to know each other and move forward slowly, step by step." In other words, it is for the government to put its cards on the table and the LTTE will say whether or not they will continue to play.

"The LTTE will expect extra powers within the north-east council but this [sic.] should not be defined in black and white because this will trigger tension. People are allergic to certain concepts." He rejected a separate SE council for Muslims on the grounds it would "accentuate differences that already exist."

Karikalan strenuously denied that the LTTE was involved in recruitment of child soldiers. "We look after orphans, homeless people, those who run away from home. We have schools for children below 17. They are never used in combat. We are responsible for the people here. We also need people for our fighting forces but do not recruit those under 17. It is not for Amnesty International to criticise us. We are here and we are fighting this war."

He was equally emphatic on foreign pressure on LTTE: "We know that other countries are behind Norway but if they think that we can be frightened into submission then they are mistaken. Every cadre remembers the 17,000 martyrs. Nobody can threaten us into submission. The American statement is a threat to the LTTE. The American charges are baseless."

On India he was equally decided. "India must participate in the peace process. It is a moral responsibility for a regional power which fostered the Tamil movement. India must also play a role because of its proximity. India is the only refuge for Tamil people."

In the past, the LTTE has declined to discuss the assassination of Gandhi. Questioned as to whether the time was ripe to apologise for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, he effectively observed that Gandhi had got his just desserts, "The Indian army caused a lot of damage and loss of life. The loss of Rajiv Gandhi might be considered less."
I'd hate to play poker with that nice Mr Karikalan. I suppose that's what that nice Mr Wickremesinghe is doing. Good luck, mate


22). Amnesty slams LTTE over child soldiers

AFP [ TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2002 1:02:50 PM ]
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels Tuesday came under renewed criticism from human rights watchdog Amnesty International for allegedly recruiting child soldiers, some as young as 12 years.

London-based Amnesty released the names of 18 children who have been recruited by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since mid-February, when the group last lodged a similar protest.

Amnesty said the LTTE had begun investigating its complaints and some children had been allowed to return to their families, but the problem of recruiting children was continuing.

The statement came a day after the US government warned the LTTE that their actions were jeopardising a current ceasefire with the government which has been brokered by Norway.

The US embassy here said on Monday that there were credible reports that Tigers were rearming themselves, had stepped up the recruitment of child soldiers and were extorting money from civilians under the cover of the truce.

"In the current international context ... in which terrorism is being condemned in more and more countries, the LTTE should be especially vigilant about observing the terms of the ceasefire accord," the US embassy said.

Amnesty said the LTTE continued to recruit children amid the truce that went into effect on February 23 with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two sides.

Amnesty noted that according to the MoU, both sides have to fall in line with international law and abstain from hostile acts against the civilian population, including torture, intimidation and abduction.

"It is not known at this stage whether the recruitment of children will be considered by the (ceasefire) monitoring committee to be a breach of the agreement," Amnesty said.

A Scandinavian team is due to begin the work of monitoring the ceasefire.

Amnesty asked people worldwide to send petitions to LTTE offices in Canada, France and Norway as well as Tamil communities around the world asking that children should not be recruited as soldiers.
A local human rights group, the University Teachers' for Human Rights (UTHR) said last month that the Tigers had intensified conscription following a unilateral truce they began observing at Christmas.

"Where the children were extremely young, the LTTE often demanded a written declaration from the parents that they would give (to the LTTE) the first child that comes of age -- reportedly 12 years," the UTHR said.

Last year Unicef Director General Carol Bellamy urged the LTTE to live up to a commitment made in 1998 to the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict that they would stop recruiting child soldiers

21).Tiger rebels 'dragoon Tamil teenagers'

Friday, 1 February, 2002, 11:22 GMT : (Source:World: South Asia )

By the BBC's Frances Harrison in Colombo
Reports from eastern Sri Lanka say Tamil Tiger rebels there are taking advantage of the current ceasefire with the government to step up forced recruitment of teenagers for their war effort.
Local people also say there has been a marked increase in extortion and abduction for ransom by the rebels.
The moves have raised tension and caused some families to consider moving out of the area to protect their children.

Most people in the east are too scared to say anything publicly. But it is clear the local rebel commanders have started coming into government-controlled areas for recruitment. They are taking advantage of the current ceasefire to move around in Batticaloa district, visiting families and demanding that they give at least one child to the movement. Community leaders say the Tamil Tigers are forcibly conscripting young boys and girls who look fit enough to fight from families who had previously fled rebel territory, precisely to avoid such an eventuality. Tamil fears There are also reports throughout the east of Sri Lanka of increased extortion by the rebels, sometimes of sums up to the equivalent of $1,000.
Local people say the rebels are now demanding that teachers and government officials pay 12% of their salary as an unofficial tax, as opposed to five percent previously.
In one town in Trincomalee district, shops and offices closed in protest at what they said was increased extortion by the Tamil Tigers.
What is not clear is whether the rebel leadership in the north of Sri Lanka is fully aware of what their cadres in the east are doing.
The Catholic bishop of Mannar, in north-western Sri Lanka, says he informed the leader of the Tamil Tigers political wing, Mr SP Tamilselvan, last week about the increased conscription and extortion.
It is his understanding that Mr Tamilselvan, who is currently involved in peace negotiations with the government, was surprised to hear what was going on.
The issue is a very serious one, as it threatens to undermine what the government says is the last chance for peace in Sri Lanka.
And it is causing alarm among Tamil civilians who say they increasingly fear the rebels who claim to be their sole representatives. [Top]

20). Sri Lanka rebels 'enlisting children'

President Kumaratunga: Rebels exploiting ceasefire

By the BBC's Frances Harrison in Colombo

The Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, has issued a statement saying she is deeply concerned that Tamil Tiger rebels are taking advantage of a ceasefire to step up recruitment of children for their war effort.

The President was referring to reports from eastern Sri Lanka that rebel cadre have been visiting houses in government controlled areas to demand every Tamil family gives at least one child to fight.

The President said she was concerned about large-scale forcible recruitment of children by the Tamil Tigers.

She said it was of paramount importance that the rights of all civilians in the north and east - especially children - were protected.

There has been much alarm about reports that Tamil Tiger rebels have been taking advantage of the lull in the fighting to come into villages in the eastern district of Batticaloa to try to take away teenagers - many of whose families had fled rebel territory to avoid conscription.

'Too scared'

Most people are too frightened to voice any complaint and the rebel leader in the east has now denied the reports. But privately local people in Batticaloa say since the news was made public at the end of last week there has been a decrease in incidents of forcible recruitment though it may be too early to say if the problem has stopped altogether.

Meanwhile there are some reports from northern Sri Lanka of rebel cadre in Mannar district demanding both money and children for the war effort from civilians in government areas.

In one instance local people say one man was beaten for refusing to co-operate and another had his tractor stolen.

And in some areas the rebels have reportedly told villagers they will be killed if they inform the Sri Lankan army about what is going on.

In the north it is not clear whether these reports represent a marked increase in rebel activity.

But in the east of Sri Lanka local people say the degree of harassment had shot up since the ceasefire came into effect. [Top] 

19).Villagers are fleeing to Batticaloa Town
by a special correspondent (The Island)

Villagers are fleeing to Batticaloa Town consequent to the rounding up of youth for forcible conscription by the LTTE. These refugees had to walk long distances through elephants infested jungle to escape their children being taken by force to join them, according to residents of Batticaloa.
On Jan. 19 two armed LTTE men were seen in Batticaloa Town at the motor cycle garage of Ivor at Thaandavanveli. Police personnel contacted them and received orders from higher ups to take out the ammunition from the loaded weapons and to charge them for being in possession of arms. Sources said that further orders from higherups came to take them up to the Chengaladi bridge and send them off.
In the heart of the town the LTTE are entering houses and frightening some inmates and extorting money, sources said.
A retired Jail officer, Mr. Sivapragasam, was visited by the LTTE some days ago and ordered to come to the LTTE point at a certain time and date. Later LTTE men came to his residence and abducted him and took him away. Another person treated similarly has been one Mr. Balasubramaniam.
LTTE cadres boldly walk into schools and address the A. L. students and demand that they join them. When asked by some students, about the ceasefire and peace they laugh sarcastically and tell them, that talks of peace are mere yarns and eventually they have to win their rights by fighting.The two LTTE men who had been at Ivors Motor Cycle Garage have been identified as Subramaniam Premachandran and Suresh Kumar. It is reported that on January 17 these two men visited the Kallar School on a recruitment drive and parents who had been tipped about this ran to the school and took away their children. Hearing that the STF had also been informed and were coming, the two men fled by Pattirippu bridge. Parents have now stopped their children from attending school.
The LTTE cadres have told the people in Batticaloa that they will be opening offices in town and will be in charge of all administration.
The situation is worse than it was after the IPKF went and the people here were left to the mercies of the LTTE.
Those who co-operated with the Government loyally are being pinpointed to be their victims.
When the parents who fled with their children asked the principals of schools for the school leaving certificates the principals of the School had said that the LTTE had instructed them not to release the certificates and asked parents to bring letters of permission from the LTTE.
Some of the houses of parents who fled from their villages have been taken over and sealed by the LTTE and where some of the refugees had requested some relatives to cultivate their fields they have been chased out and prevented from doing so.
People affected are in fright and fear to complain to anyone for such in the fear of the LTTE.
The Army and the Police here are aware of the harassment by the LTTE of the innocent rural Tamil people. In fact when complaints were made to them they frankly told the people who made complaints - "We can only advice you, sell all your property and run away from the East."
The Forces are powerless, for from top it has been dinned into them "Avoid all confrontation." [Top]

18).Sri Lankan Tamil Rebels Continue Forcible Conscription of Youths

XINHUANET 2002-01-31 11:22:46
COLOMBO, January 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Despite growing hopes for the Norwegian-brokered peace process in Sri Lanka, separatist Tamil Tiger rebels are continuing to forcibly conscript youths in the north and east of the country, The Island newspaper reported on Thursday.
The villagers in the area are fleeing through animal infested jungles to Batticaloa town, about 300 kilometers east of capital
Colombo, in order to avoid their children taken by force. Houses of these villagers have been taken over and sealed by the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.
In Batticaloa town armed LTTE rebels are reportedly roaming freely and some of them have been extorting money from residents and businessmen. Those who refuse to pay are abducted and ransom demanded from their families.
They also boldly walk into schools and demand that the senior students join them. The rebels have also spread word that they
will be opening offices in Batticaloa town and will soon be in charge of the administration in the area.
Armed forces and police personnel have been instructed to avoid all confrontations with the rebels and they are unable to act on complaints of harassment against the rebels by the people. The defense ministry said on Wednesday that LTTE rebels tried
to collect funds from shopkeepers in Pawakkulam area in the north and forced fishermen in the area of Kudremalai Point north of Colombo to pay ransom on Monday. End item. [Top]

17).Tigers launch recruitment amid Sri Lanka truce

By Christine Jayasinghe, Indo-Asian News Service Colombo, Jan 28 (IANS)

Tamil Tiger rebels Monday launched a recruitment drive in a government-held area and warned civilians against maintaining close contacts with troops despite a truce by both sides.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters crossed into the Pavathkulam irrigation settlement in the Vavuniya district Monday and asked civilians to enlist their children among rebel ranks.
The guerrillas also demanded money from the civilians to boost their campaign against government forces, local officials said.
They said the move came as posters appeared in the northern Vavuniya district near refugee camps warning civilians not to have contacts with troops, members of intelligence agencies and rival Tamil groups.
"We regret to inform you that those who violate our order will be treated as traitors and punished accordingly," said the posters put up overnight Monday, but dated 21 November 2001.
Military officials noted that the date was more than a month before the Tigers began observing their unilateral truce on Christmas Eve.
The government reciprocated the rebel truce and both sides have extended it till February 24 and have pledged to turn it into a formal cessation of hostilities agreement.
Despite the truce, the defence ministry has reported several "hostile" activities by the Tiger guerrillas, including the entering of government-held towns in the island's northeast while publicly displaying their weapons.
Constitutional Affairs minister G.L. Peiris warned last week that there could be violations of the truce.
However, he said Norwegian peace brokers were trying to arrange a monitoring system to ensure that violations did not escalate into major incidents and scuttle the entire peace process.
Peiris said they planned to have a formal truce in place before the current cessation of hostilities expires February 24.
"No where in the world can you have a perfect ceasefire where there won't be violations. What we are trying to do is identify the potential flashpoints and have arrangements to address those issues without allowing a situation to aggravate," he had said.
The decades-long separatist war in the island has killed 60,000 people and rendered thousands homeless. [Top]

Gulf News:

16).Villagers flee as Tigers step up conscription

Colombo | 01/02/2002
Tamil rebels have stepped up a conscription drive, collection of taxes and their propaganda despite the cessation of hostilities with the Sri Lankan government and pending the possible commencement of talks between the two sides, reports from the area said.

As rebels stepped up their conscription parents have begun to flee certain areas in order to prevent their children being taken away by the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) while some others have complained to the Catholic church and community leaders in the area.

Rebels in addition to the conscription have entered civilian populated areas controlled by the military and have carried out their propaganda activities. A Catholic priest in the area confirmed that conscription was taking place and some of the villagers were fleeing to avoid conscription of their children by the LTTE in the eastern Batticaloa area.

Over 100 youth were taken from one area while in other areas too conscription was taking place in smaller numbers, but at steady progress, he said. The Tigers claim that the youth are joining them voluntarily, but parents and residents say that it was forcible conscription that was taking place.

The Sri Lankan government has not officially reacted about the reports about the conscription, but the Information Department in its daily military news statement said that the rebels were involved in forcible recruitment in the eastern Batticaloa district.

They said in the northern Wanni region rebels were extorting money from the civilians. The statement said that the military had received information about a rebel meeting in a military controlled area and when the army arrived there the crowds had dispersed. However, civilians present there had said that the rebels were preparing to collect taxes with effect from today in the Batticaloa area.

In the Wanni area troops had observed a group of four rebel members addressing a group of shopkeepers. A senior military officer who did not want to be quoted said that there were also reports about the rebels putting up bunkers in the areas controlled by them, but no action was being taken to in view of the cessation of hostilities.

The conscription, collection of taxes and carrying on rebel propaganda can strain the efforts by Norway to bring both, the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government to the negotiating table.

The government sources said that until a formal agreement is finalised between the two sides, no action could be taken regarding some of the issues as the unilateral cessation of hostilities do not cover these issues.[Top]

15).Tamil Tigers force families to provide child fighters

By Amal Jayasinghe in Colombo

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerillas have stepped up their forced conscription of child soldiers - some of them as young as 12 - despite a truce with government forces, a human rights group has revealed.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is forcing families to send at least one child to join the rebel movement and has set fire to the homes of those who failed to do so, the University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) said.

In its latest report, the UTHR said the Tigers had intensified conscription following the unilateral truce they have been observing since Christmas.

The ceasefire has been reciprocated by the Government. Military officials have also reported stepped-up recruitment drives by the rebels who have openly entered government-held areas under cover of the truce.

The problem was acute in the multi-ethnic eastern province, the UTHR said. "In areas ... where the LTTE's movements were hitherto inhibited, the LTTE came in and started demanding children and money to set up offices. '

"Where the children were extremely young, the LTTE often demanded a written declaration from the parents that they would give the first child that comes of age - reportedly 12 years," the UTHR said.

Childless couples were asked to pay money to the Tigers.

The human rights group Amnesty International has also demanded that the guerillas return all child soldiers to their families or communities.

"Whether the recruitment is forced or not, children have no role to play in war," Amnesty said in a statement last year.

The Government, which came to power in December, has been observing the truce as a gesture to clear the way for face-to-face peace talks with the Tigers, who are fighting for an independent homeland in the north and east of the island.

Norway is trying to broker peace talks and has been working on formalising the truce to end decades of ethnic bloodshed that has killed more than 60,000 people.

Sri Lankan military officers began a UN-sponsored training program last week on how to deal with captured child soldiers fighting in the ranks of Tamil Tigers.

Jean-Luc Bories, an official with UNICEF, said the week-long training session was part of a program intended to improve the conditions of children caught up in the conflict.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka marked its 54th anniversary of independence from Britain yesterday with a low-key military parade.

AFP [Top] 

14). UNICEF slams Tigers

Child recruitment continuing under cover of ceasefire

The United Nations Children's Fund has expressed deep concern over reports that the LTTE is continuing the recruitment of child soldiers despite a cessation of hostilities and plans for peace talks.

"We have had reports that children are still forcibly being taken and even during the ceasefire period, a lot of pressure is being put on children to join the LTTE," UNICEF's Colombo chief Colin Glennie said.

"Reports indicate there is intense psychological pressure to join the LTTE while a few cases of physical abductions were also reported. Older people are also being taken forcibly," he said.

Mr. Glennie said UNICEF was making representations to the LTTE directly to adhere to the commitment it made to the UN's special representative Olara Otunu in May 1998 to refrain from recruiting child combatants. But, he said, the LTTE appeared to be violating its pledge.

Mr. Glennie said that after the 1998 pledge the LTTE had put up banners and posters, proclaiming there would be no child recruitment. But these appear to be largely slogans and the abuse of children was continuing.

Meanwhile, the Government Information Department also said on Wednesday there were reports that the LTTE was on a recruitment drive in Kiran, asking every family to send at least one child.

Military spokesman Sanath Karunaratne, however, declined to comment on the reports.

( Sunday Times)[Top] 

13).Children Kidnapped to fight for Tamil army

(The source:The LondonTimes(UK))

THE knock at the door came just before midnight. Kanthan stirred when he heard the gentle sound, but, seeing his mother and his siblings asleep, he turned over and closed his eyes again. Then the Tigers burst through the door and into the bedroom where the family lay sleeping.

“One of them was holding a rifle and he pointed it at me as the others shook my mother awake,” Kanthan recalled. “They said they had come to take my little brother away and then the Tiger girls went to grab him from the bed. My mother tried to hold on to him, but they kept wrenching her away.”

Kanthan’s mother knew why the Tigers had come for her 15-year-old son, Aruna. In rebel-controlled areas of Sri Lanka, every Tamil family is required to give up a child, girl or boy, to join the fight for a Tamil homeland. She had not done so. Now the Tigers were coming to take the new recruit by force.

“The Tigers pulled her hands away from my brother so roughly that they broke all her fingers. She was screaming in pain,” Kanthan said. “My sister was still holding on to Aruna then the Tiger girls descended on her and started strangling her and tearing her dress until she let go.”

The fight went on for an hour before the Tigers disappeared into the night, taking Aruna with them. The next morning, on January 12, the villagers gathered and pieced together what had happened. In all, four teenagers, two girls and two boys, had been carried off to a jungle training camp run by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Father Harry Miller, an American priest who ministers to the town’s Tamil Christian community, said: “Since the ceasefire, it’s reached a new intensity. The ceasefire is the time when everyone expects the Tigers to build up strength.”

The use of child soldiers by the Tamil Tigers is nothing new, but the brutal methods of abduction and forced conscription are. In rebel-controlled eastern Sri Lanka, the Tigers are taking advantage of the ceasefire, declared in late December, to step up the forcible recruitment of teenagers. The Tigers are also recruiting in governmentcontrolled territory. Because travel restrictions have been eased, they can prey on families who fled rebel areas.

More than 40 families with teenagers fled the government-held Kirin district after the Tigers swept into town and carried off six children at gunpoint. Their homes were burnt as a warning to other families of their duty to contribute a child to the cause. One couple, grief-stricken at the loss of their only child, committed suicide with the same cyanide capsules used by captured Tiger fighters.

In Batticaloa, a frontline town, everyone knows a story of a child being taken — but ask questions and most clam up. “I’m afraid they might come and get me here,” said one mother, who fled to Batticaloa after she and her family fought off a gang of Tiger volunteers who had come to take her 16-year-old daughter.

Child fighters form an integral part of the Tigers’ guerrilla army, one of the most feared in the world. Across the lagoon in rebel-controlled Kokkodicholai, a statue of a fallen Tiger commander graces the entrance to the town, with smaller iron figurines of young boys cradling machineguns at his feet. There are no teenagers anywhere to be seen.

An hour later, I found some, marching past the cemetery known as “the place where the heroes sleep”. Three boys were on patrol, dressed in dark-grey uniforms, one cradling an antique-looking machinegun. “New recruits,” my guide murmured. The boys were sullen, unwilling to communicate without the permission of their leader. They were 16, they said, so no problem there: the Tigers have never denied using fighters as young as 15.

Some go willingly, seduced by the notion of liberating their people, and some are given by families under varying degrees of pressure. There was no way of telling how these three silent recruits had come to join up.

The boys’ leader, Sivagnanam Karikalan, deputy chief of the Tigers’ political wing, was meeting education officials when I saw him. Tamils value education and the Tigers are no exception, although they apparently see nothing incongruous in removing children from school to fight.

Kanthan smiled wryly at the Tigers’ claim that all recruits go willingly. “The other boy taken with my brother bit the Tiger’s hand so hard he had to have stitches,” he said. “I don’t think he was going willingly.”

President Kumaratunga was said in a statement to be “deeply concerned regarding the reports that the LTTE is continuing the large-scale forcible recruitment of children, despite the cessation of hostilities and plans for peace negotiations”. There is also evidence that the Tigers have stepped up recruitment from schools and used youths as suicide-bombers.

According to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, the Tigers have a long record of using child soldiers, some as young as nine. Despite recent signs of a shift in policy, child recruitment child recruitment has continued to be reported. [Top] 

12). Appeal LTTE to Stop Forced Conscription- TNA

Saroj Pathirana in London. Saturday 02/02/02 1800 GMT

Political parties should publicly appeal to the LTTE to stop abduction and forcible recruitment of Tamil youths as it may disrupt the Norwegian brokered peace process, a leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said. N.Raviraj, Jaffna district MP and the former mayor of Jaffna, said that although the party has not received complains from the voters, it is not in the interest of the peace process and the confidence building measures if the Tamil Tigers are forcibly conscripting the children and youth form North-East.

"We do not have direct contacts with the LTTE. But if our electorate complain, we would appeal, LTTE to stop those practises," Mr. Raviraj told BBC’s Sandeshaya.

The government and Human Rights organisations including University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) said that the Tigers have stepped up forced conscription of child soldiers. The UTHR, in its latest report, mentioned names of more than ten children abducted from their homes in Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts.

When contacted by Sandeshaya, Batticaloa district MP Joseph Pararajasingham, denied receiving any complain of abduction, extortion of forced recruitment of child soldiers by the LTTE. He, however, promised to look into the matter and comment within two days. [Top] 

11). Rights group asks Oslo to protect Tamil  civilians from LTTE

By Nirupama Subramanian (Hindu)

COLOMBO, FEB. 1. A Tamil human rights group has asked Norway, which is facilitating a peace process in Sri Lanka, to protect civilians in the north- east of the island by ensuring that the LTTE stopped political killings, extortion and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Detailing in a report instances of recruitment of children and abduction of adults for ransom by the LTTE and murders of those opposed to it over the last month, the University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) has accused the Government, Tamil political parties, and civil society of turning a blind eye to these incidents so as not to upset the peace process.

``In these circumstances, it falls to other actors concerned in the peace process to safeguard children's rights and create normal conditions on the political front as well. A huge responsibility falls on Norway that has been called upon to play a facilitating role,'' the UTHR said in the report, which was released today. It added that the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict had a crucial role to play.

Formed in 1988 as a watchdog of Tamil human rights, the UTHR is a group of former Jaffna University teachers which has been vociferously critical of the LTTE. One of its members was killed by the LTTE, and the remaining left the peninsula when the LTTE took control of it in 1990.

But through its network of informants in the north, the group puts out periodic reports about civilian life under the LTTE in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

``We need to put mechanisms in place to monitor not only violations of the truce between the state and the LTTE, but also the use of terror and violations against civilians by both sides,'' the UTHR points out in its latest report.

According to the report, three civilians, one of them a former LTTE member, have been killed since December 24, when both the LTTE and the Government began observing a truce.

The report gives names of 10 children, all between the ages of 12 and 15, and a 28-year-old woman, who were ``forcibly removed'' from their homes in Kiran in Batticaloa and from near Mutur in Trincomalee.

Those who fled Kiran with their children later found out that their homes had been burnt down by the LTTE.

Terrified Tamil parents are getting their children married early in order to avoid their conscription by the LTTE, the report alleges, pointing at a sudden increase in the number of teenage mothers in parts of eastern Sri Lanka.

Extortion by the LTTE's so-called finance wing is on the rise. The report says that the number of persons being called and threatened or detained for extortion is ``simply enormous''.

A Government official in Vakkarai, north of Batticaloa, who was kidnapped last month for ransom, has still not been released. Another Government official was called and warned for not making collections from his staff.

``Today, the Tamils in the north-east are being subject to the abduction of their children, political violence and both the Tamils and Muslims to systematic extortion and kidnapping for ransom. While the Sri Lankan forces are removing checkpoints and allowing the LTTE to move into areas under their control, the LTTE is imposing new barriers to monitor its own people,'' the report said. On Thursday, Kinniya, a predominantly Muslim town in Trincomalee, observed a general strike in protest against forcible ``taxation'' by the LTTE. Shops and offices were shut, and there was no public transport.

As Muslims have been particularly targeted for extortion, the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Rauff Hakeem, wrote an open letter to the LTTE leader, V. Prabhakaran, last month, asking him to restrain his cadres, but it seems to have been in vain. [Top] 

10). LTTE deny forced conscription charges

AP [ MONDAY, FEBRUARY 04, 2002  12:03:15 PM ]

BATTICALOA: Tamil Tigers rebels have denied accusations that they are using a cease-fire to forcibly recruit members, but said they must enter into peace negotiations from a position of strength.

Parents have complained that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were forcing them to give some of their children to help fight the separatist war, the University Teachers for Human Rights, a mostly Tamil group that monitors human rights in the Tamil-majority north and east, said last week.

The independent Island newspaper said last week that the guerrillas were visiting schools and asking the minority Tamil students to join them.

But a top rebel leader said the LTTE is not involved in forced conscription in interviews with journalists taken late Sunday to the rebel-held town of Kokkaddicholai, 14 kilometers (nine miles) southwest of the east coast city of Batticaloa.

"The charges are baseless and are being levelled by elements opposed to the interest of Tamil people," said Sivagnanam Karikalan, the deputy leader of the rebels' political wing. "It is our wish to ensure that we are not maligned further by reports and rumors that our organization is forcing youth to join."

He added that the group must retain its military powers to take part in proposed peace talks from a position of strength.

"In this context the LTTE would like to underscore the fact that it was our military resistance that ultimately impelled the Sri Lankan state to begin peace talks with us," he said.

"No one would have been talking about peace for the Tamil people today if we did not have the military power to withstand the massive Sri Lankan Army's operation against the LTTE," he said.

The rebels have fought since 1983 to create a homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.2 million minority Tamils and have successfully resisted several army offensives and air attacks. More than 64,500 people have been killed in the insurrection.

Karikalan claimed that the 100,000-man Sri Lankan army is also recruiting to increase its strength, and said it is continuing to purchase military hardware during the cease-fire, which began Dec. 24 and is due to end Feb. 24.

Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Sanath Karunaratne said no new orders for military hardware have been placed since the cease-fire took effect and said there was no special recruitment drive.

"Whatever is coming was in the pipeline," Karunaratne said. "The orders were placed much before the cease-fire. Since the beginning of the truce, we have not placed any new order."

Norwegian government mediators are trying to arrange for an extended cease-fire and peace talks. [Top] 

9).Peace process and the international community

( Daily news editorial 5th feb)

The renewal of the peace process with Norwegian facilitation is the most welcome development since the advent of the new government. It was, of course, a direct consequence of the massive vote peace.

Several factors distinguish the present peace making effort from the previous ones. Firstly, it is conducted in the context of the global war against terrorism following September 11 attacks on the WTC in New York.

Secondly, the prospects of a bi-partisan approach in pursuing peace are brighter, for the first time, with the President and the Prime Minister compelled to engage in cohabitational politics.

Thirdly, The LTTE is under pressure from the international community to seek a negotiated settlement as its sources of funding abroad are contracting.

Fourthly, gaining by previous experience, the new government has adopted a more cautious and professional approach in its initiatives. Significant headway has been already made in the peace process. A series of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) has been undertaken by both sides.

The Government is in the process of implementing a series of humanitarian measures. They include the lifting of the ban on certain goods to the uncleared areas in the Vanni and the North. Most of the roadblocks and barriers too have been removed and movement of persons between the uncleared areas and the rest of the country has been made easier.

The LTTE, on the other hand, has released several prisoners that were held in captivity them.

Both sides have effected unilateral cessation of hostilities. They are now working towards a formal joint ceasefire through the facilitation of Norway.

Much more needs to be done in the sphere of CBMs.

Pursuing peace in the context of a twenty-year-old war is not easy. It is an arduous and up-hill journey.

Hence, utmost care should be taken to preserve and consolidate the gains so far achieved. Nothing should be done to endanger the results so far achieved.

In this respect, certain news reports coming from the North and East are apprehensive. The UTHR (J) in a news bulletin dated February 1 has accused the LTTE of recruiting children for military training and of political killings in a bid to eliminate dissent.

The international community, particularly India, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Community should use their influence on the LTTE to make it desist from such practices.

The international community could persuade both sides to pursue the peace process to its culmination. It should also underwrite any agreement reached.

The immediate task for them is to guarantee the observance of a mutually agreed formal joint ceasefire. Their participation in a ceasefire monitoring body would enhance the chances of minimizing any breaches of the ceasefire.  [Top] 

8). President concerned about LTTE child recruitment

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is deeply concerned regarding reports that the LTTE is continuing the large scale forcible recruitment of children, despite the cessation of hostilities and plans for peace negotiations between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, said a press release issued by Presidential spokesman Harim Peiris.

The Presidency notes that statement published on February 3 issued by the UNICEF in this regard and would urge the LTTE to adhere to the commitment it made to UN Special Representative, Olara Ottunu in May, 1998 to desist from recruiting child combatants, the release said.

It further said: "At this initial stage of the peace process, that of implementing confidence building measures and resolving humanitarian issues, the rights of civilians in the North and East in general and the rights of children in particular are of paramount importance. It is critical that during the process of negotiations and the formulation of solutions to the national ethnic problem, the right of all people to live in safety and dignity is promoted and protected.

"The President of Sri Lanka is convinced that it is only a process and a solution which ensures and enshrines basic human values and human rights that would endure and secure a durable and lasting peace for us all.

"The Sri Lankan Presidency continues to remain strongly committed to working constructively in cohabitation with her new Government to ensure the success of the ongoing peace process to resolve the national ethnic problem." [Top] 

7). Chandrika damaging peace process: LTTE

Colombo, Feb. 6. (PTI): The LTTE has accused Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga of undermining peace process by raising concerns over the alleged conscription of children by the Tamil rebels and claimed that it was only recruiting adult volunteers for both military and civil duties.

President Kumaratunga was ``distorting facts to slander the LTTE with the ultimate objective of scuttling the peace process,'' LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingham told website from London.

The President's office yesterday issued a statement expressing concern over reports that the rebels were recruiting children in the east, despite an on-going truce with government forces.

While affirming her continued support to the United National Party-led Government's peace efforts, she said that in the initial stage of the peace process, the rights of civilians in the north and east, especially children, were of paramount importance.

However, the LTTE, already unhappy with Kumarantunga for her alleged militarist approach to the ethnic problem, questioned her `motives' in issuing the statement. [Top] 

6). SLMC seeks Norwegian intervention to stop LTTE extortions

[ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka]

Feb 05, Colombo: The Norwegian Ambassador in Colombo Jon Westborg has assured SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem that he would intervene to stop the LTTE from extorting money from the people in the north & east.

The minister had complained to the Ambassador that it was a matter of regret that the LTTE should carry on with their extortion activities in Kinniya, Valaichchenai, Batticaloa and Vavuniya in spite of the current ceasefire.

Hakeem had complained that the LTTE conduct could have a direct bearing on the proposed peace talks. [Top] 

Gulf News

5). University dons name child recruits

Colombo |By Sinha Ratnatunga | 07-02-2002

A group of Tamil university dons and academics from northern Jaffna, who have long chronicled human rights abuses by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), have given a string of names of children forcibly recruited by the rebels, some of them as young as 12 years old, raising fears of the Tigers' intentions to push through with the peace process.

They also gave the names of people to whose houses the LTTE has broken into and damaged property because they have refused to send their children to join the LTTE.

"Schools in rural areas (under the control of the rebels) were grinding to a halt,"  the group, calling themselves the University Teachers for Human Rights, said adding that parents were fleeing to main towns in eastern Batticaloa as well as to Colombo.

The news of child recruitment has dealt another blow to the credibility of the LTTE as a genuine freedom movement while it has raised fears in Colombo's military establishment that the rebel group was only buying time and was preparing to renege on its offer to negotiate for the fifth time in 20 years of fighting for a separate state.

Military top brass are now gearing up to the possibility of a lightning strike by the LTTE on its garrisons in the northern Jaffna peninsula even before the peace talks commence so that the rebels can bargain from a position of strength.

In April-May 2000, the LTTE was on the verge of recapturing the Jaffna peninsula when they broke in to the Elephant Pass military base, which is the gateway from the island's mainland to the northern peninsula.

Some 40,000 government troops are stationed in Jaffna, but are currently under orders not to engage the LTTE as a shaky ceasefire since last Christmas holds. But, military top brass said the LTTE is quite capable of striking while the soldiers take a break from the fighting and are at ease.

Further worry emanates from news that the LTTE is reluctant to sign a memorandum of understanding on a mutual long-term ceasefire with the Colombo government through Norwegian facilitation ahead of peace talks, because it is insisting that the truce extends to the sea.

Under normal international covenants, a sovereign state is permitted to safeguard its sea borders and airspace, and the LTTE demand to extend the ceasefire to the sea is viewed as attempts to stop naval raids on suspected arms shipments.

Again, recent state intelligence reports have confirmed that the LTTE has had some successful unloadings of arms and ammunition in the eastern shores, pointing to a major arms buildup by the rebels. [Top] 

4). Child conscription reports taken up with LTTE: Govt

Colombo,Thursday, February 07, 2002:    The Sri Lankan government has taken up the issue of alleged conscription of children by the LTTE with the rebels through Norwegian peace facilitators, a Cabinet spokesman said today.  

        "Yes, it has, of course, been raised with the LTTE, we have been taking up such matters through the Norwegians, whenever they are brought to our notice," Prof G L Peiris told mediapersons here.
        Peiris was replying to a question on the government's apparent lack of response to reports of forced enlistment of youngsters by the LTTE when even President Chandrika Kumaratunga had voiced her concern.
        "There is a very deep concern about humanitarian issues and civil rights," he added. The LTTE has denied the charge, and claimed that only enlistment of adult volunteers for military and administrative duties was going on.
        Peiris denied suggestions that the government was going all out to please the Tigers and that the proposed truce agreement would prove to be a one-sided document granting too many concessions to the rebels.
        Peiris, Industrial Development and Constitutional Affairs Minister and one of the ministers designated to handle the peace process, stressed that humanitarian and security considerations would form crucial components in the proposed ceasefire agreement.
        "Please suspend your judgement until the agreement is ready. You will see that the final document is reciprocal and not one-sided," he said, adding both sides showed sound understanding of each other's problems.[Top]

3). View point: Hawk and dove story

[ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka]

Feb 07, Colombo: The polarization between those who want the peace negotiations to continue and those who say it is all going to be a big disaster for the government is visibly increasing. But those who see that peace should be given a chance seem to be quite aggrieved by the dire warnings given by certain analysts about how the peace process is going to collapse.

One writer, writing in The Island, paints an imaginary scenario of “Batticaloa under siege” and “Jaffna captured”, about what he sees as the probable scenario unfolding in the coming year.

All this seems to have dampened the spirits of those who see some hope in the process of dialogue now initiated with the facilitation of the Norwegian government. Those who see hopes for peace see the increasing vehemence of those who warn against peace as being “chauvinistic” and extreme.

It is difficult to argue with the genuine sentiments, wherever they exist, of people who want peace through negotiations. The problem is that there is always somebody telling them that their visions of peace are but illusions. The Sri Lankan President has warned of the LTTE engaging in recruitment of children. The LTTE was prompt in its denial of this and says that the report of child recruitment is part of the “irresponsible and destructive attitude of the Sri Lankan President towards the peace process.”

But, as the Gulf News reports today, the UTHR (University Teachers for Human Rights) report confirms that the LTTE is engaging in recruitment of child soldiers. Under these circumstances, even the worse skeptics who scoff at those who dislike the peace process are taken aback and are in doubt about where this peace process is headed. Those who believe in the peace process, on the other hand, are legitimate in harboring the view that despite the hurdles and the obstacles, the process is bound to work.

But they cannot necessarily decry or find fault with anyone who is entertaining doubts about the peace process (or questions its viability) under the current circumstances, in which there seem to be reports on a fairly regular basis about bona fide issues such as child recruitment. The best solution for those who have faith in the peace process is to enter into a dialogue with those who are in doubt. Perhaps their fears can be allayed. Perhaps there can be rational explanations given. But if the anti-peace lobby is told to shut up, one thing that can be sure is that they just would shout all the more louder.[Top]

2). NPC calls for Concrete Actions towards a political solution

Saroj Pathirana in London. Saturday 09/02/02 1815 GMT

Sri Lankan based peace movement National Peace Council (NPC) urged the authorities to start a genuine peace process stepping beyond a mere cease-fire agreement. In a statement, the NPC appealed both parties of the conflict to take concrete actions towards a long-term political settlement to Sri Lanka’s national question.

"While maintaining that the cease-fire is a laudable objective, the NPC is concerned that such a narrow focus might undermine the peace process in the longer term. There is a need to deal with the substantive political issues that underlie the ethnic conflict as a whole, and go beyond simply stopping the fighting."

The NPC said that the both parties, at present, appear to be satisfied not to push too soon to discuss the political issues. The government and the LTTE do not seem to be prepared to acknowledge the contentious political issues and make a commitment towards a political solution, the statement alleged.

"Recently there have been reports of forced recruitment and extortion by the LTTE, while hundreds of detainees continue to be held in government prisons without trial as LTTE suspects. There is a need for the government and LTTE to agree to strong human rights mechanisms that will eliminate such violations". [Top]

Published: Sat Feb 9 13:16:51 EST 2002

1).Appeal by Amnesty International


PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 37/005/2002

UA 48/02 Fear for Safety/Child soldiers 14 February 2002

SRI LANKA Duncy Mary (f), aged 15
Sudharshini Tharmalingam (f), aged 12
Gunasekaram Kananayagam (m), aged 16
Kathiresan Ruban (m), aged 16
Ravindran Sanjiv (m), aged 13
Anantharasa Gunaseelan (m), aged 14
Baba Thambirasa (m), aged 12
Mahendran Kapilan (m), aged 16
Mathuraiveeran Selvarasa (m), aged 15
Thiyagarajah Suthaharan (m), aged 12
Selvaraji Suthahar (m), aged 13
Vellaisamy John (m), aged 13
Selvarasa Vishaharan (m), aged 15

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of the children named above, who are thought to have been recruited as combatants by the armed political group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Duncy Mary was last seen as she returned from a tuition class near a bus stand in Tannamunai, north of Batticaloa town, eastern Sri Lanka on 11 February. She is a Grade 9 student at St. Joseph school in Tannamunai, where she has reportedly excelled in sports. She is originally from Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka, but together with her family was displaced
from there in 1995.

Kathiresan Ruban, Ravindran Sanjiv and Anantharasa Gunaseelan were reportedly among a group of seven boys who were recruited by the LTTE on 2 January at Chettikulam, Vavuniya district.

Thiyagarajah Suthaharan, Selvaraji Suthahar and Vellaisamy John told their parents on 10 December 2001 that they were going to play at the playground in Sivapuram, Vavuniya district, but they did not return home afterwards.

Amnesty International's concern about the recruitment of the all the children named above, (apart from Duncy Mary who was recruited very recently) was conveyed in a communication to the LTTE leadership on 7 February. In its communication, Amnesty International gave details, including the date of birth, address and date of alleged recruitment of each of the children. It also expressed concern at reports of the continuing recruitment of children over the last few months, since the declaration of unilateral cease-fires by both the LTTE and the government on 24 December 2001. Both the LTTE and the government are currently negotiating the terms of a permanent cease-fire agreement and preparing for negotiations on a political settlement to the longstanding armed conflict, with the assistance of the government of Norway.

The LTTE's political advisor and chief negotiator on 6 February, was quoted on the Tamilnet website as stating that the LTTE is recruiting young men and women above seventeen years of age, "to expand the movement's political and administrative wings" as part of preparations for the political and administrative demands that will arise as the peace progress progresses.
He also reportedly stated that the LTTE's military section was also recruiting volunteers "to ensure the prevailing balance of forces is not altered disadvantageously."

In another statement on 3 February, in response to reports of recruitment of children by the LTTE, Karikalan, the deputy leader of the political section of the LTTE was reported on Tamilnet as stating that "Although no one has complained recently to the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] or Sri Lanka's human rights commission, that we have forcefully conscripted anybody, it is still our wish to see that we are not maligned further by reports and rumours that our organisation is forcing youth to join".

Amnesty International takes no position on the recruitment of adults into the armed forces of governments or armed political groups. It does however, oppose the recruitment of children as combatants by governments and armed opposition groups alike, regardless of whether they have been conscripted by force or joined on a voluntary basis. It also opposes any
form of recruitment, training or deployment of children under the age of 18, including for support roles such as messengers or porters.

The LTTE itself in May 1998 at the time of the visit to Sri Lanka of Olara Otunnu, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict, had made a commitment not to recruit children under 17 years of age and not to deploy them in combat under 18 years.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
- expressing concern about the recruitment of children as young as 12 by the LTTE (include details of some specific cases);
- urging that these children are returned to their families or communities at the earliest opportunity; - urging the LTTE leadership to clarify in a public statement its current recruitment policy, so that children, parents and civil society in the north and east of Sri Lanka are fully informed; - appealing that such a statement clarifies where and how complaints regarding recruitment can be lodged; - calling for the monitoring of the human rights situation, including the recruitment of children, to be incorporated into the proposed permanent cease-fire agreement currently being negotiated between the government and the LTTE.

Dr Anton Balasingam
c/o Tamil Coordinating Committee - France
341 Rue de Pyrenees
75020 Paris, France
Fax: + 33 1 43 58 11 91
Salutation: Dear Dr Balasingam

World Tamil Movement
64 Eaton Avenue
M4J 2Z5,
Salutation: Dear Sir or Madam

Tamil Co-ordinating Committee Norway
Det tamilske Samordningsutvalget
Pb. 1699 Vika
0110 Oslo, Norway
Fax: + 47 22 38 10 40
Salutation: Dear Sir or Madam

COPIES TO: Tamil community groups in your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if
sending appeals after 28 March 2002.

II. Orchestrated campaign against UTHR(J) by the pro LTTE publications:

(1). Canadian Tamil Students Urge Tamil Eelam Tamils to Protest against UTHR's Malicious Propaganda

[EelamNation, February 08/2002]

Tamil University Students and Graduates Coordinating Committee of TNA (TUSGCC-Canada) has issued a press release urging Tamils of Tamil Eelam to unmask the Tamil Quislings behind the so-called University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), Sri Lanka, UTHR (J).

The statement identified the three man-gang as consisting of two siblings Rajan Hoole and Jeevan Hoole and one Sri Tharan (all de-nationalized Tamils). This gang of three represent nobody but themselves playing the role of apologists and propagandists for the Sinhalese Government by producing phony and doctored reports.

The real intention of this gang is very clear from the latest Information Bulletin (28) "In the Name of Peace: Terror Stalks the Northeast", issued by it.  The fact that President Chandrika quoted this gang's report to defend her human rights record (interview to the CNN) speaks volumes regarding its credibility. This gang operating from its safe hideout in Colombo and living in luxury is selling the Tamil people for a few pieces of silver.

This gang has thought it fit to vilify and denigrate the Tamil liberation struggle that is being fought at tremendous odds against a fascist cum military state. This gang is trying to sabotage the ongoing Norwegian peace efforts by raising the bogey of child soldiers, terrorism, extortion etc.

The TUSGCC has appealed to the Jaffna University staff and students and all other patriotic Tamils, including media personnel, to register their protest and expose this gang's nefarious and despicable propaganda on behalf its paymasters. There is no difference between the UTHR (J) and the extremist Sinhalese outfits like the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Sihala Urumaya (SU), both out to sabotage the peace efforts under the guise of fighting terrorism.

The statement stated further that Tamils of Tamil Eelam by overwhelmingly electing members of Tamil National Alliance as their representatives and defeating fifth columnists among them have nailed the canard that the LTTE does not enjoy popular support.[Top]

2). University Teachers for Human Rights - Jaffna Branch (UTHR-JB) Bulletins MALICIOUS PROPAGANDA?

By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell - and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed. Adolf Hitler [in Mein Kampf] 

{The above quote itself brings out the true nature of the movement we are dealing with- uthr(J)}

                Mark Twain is credited to have said, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." This is true at least in the case of the latest propaganda bulletin of the University Teachers for Human Rights - Jaffna Branch (UTHR-JB), a small group consisting primarily of two brothers.  Bulletin No. 28, released by the UTHR-JB just 10 days ago, has already been quoted numerous times, not only in the Sinhala owned Sri Lankan media, but also by the Brahmin owned The Hindu, and even the BBC. This report claims widespread 'LTTE harassment of civilians', 'conscription of child-soldiers', 'profiteering', etc. It will not be long before the other western media start repeating these allegations. The denials by the LTTE, and also by the duly elected Tamil members of the Sri Lankan Parliament, have not found currency, again proving Mark Twain's point on truth "putting on its shoes". University for Human Rights (Jaffna Branch) The UTHR-JB has been reporting on the war in Sri Lanka since 1988. Their first endeavor was 'The Broken Palmyra', a book which became widely known because of its accurate documentation of the mayhem during the occupation of the northeast parts of Sri Lanka by the Indian army (1987-1991). Members of the UTHR-JB were resident in the area (the city of Jaffna) at that time, and their credibility was enhanced by their interventions on behalf of the Tamil youth wrongfully arrested by the Indian army. One of the authors of this book, the late Dr. Rajani Thiranagama, was the most active in this regard, much to the displeasure of the Indian authorities. She was killed by an unknown assassin, widely believed to belong to a Tamil militant group (EPRLF) aligned with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and the Indian Intelligence Agency (RAW). Subsequently the IPKF helped the leader of EPRLF become the Chief Minister of the Tamil province, a short-lived regime that collapsed no sooner the Indian army left. The original UTHR (JB) group also left Jaffna at that time, practically disbanded, and eventually boiled down to the activities of two brothers, Rajan and Ratnajeevan Hoole. Rajan Hoole, the primary author of The Broken Palmyra, continued to publish with the assistance of his brother Ratnajeevan Hoole. The book was in fact published in Claremont, California, where the Ratnajeevan lived and worked as a professor at a small college. Ratnajeevan subsequently moved to Sri Lanka, claiming antipathy to the American values as inimical to the welfare of his children. The two brothers have since spent considerable energy producing voluminous reports on the war in Sri Lanka. These reports have received some respectability, firstly because the authors are 'Tamils' and that they 'hail from Jaffna', and secondly because of their claim to a connection to the Jaffna University. The Dons at the Jaffna University, however, have publicly disclaimed any connection with this group on at least three separate occasions. In 1993, Jaffna University Senate passed a resolution to this effect, and in 1996 and 2000, groups of influential teachers at the university issued joint statements condemning them. The public rejection by the Jaffna University notwithstanding, the duo have deceitfully continued to use the name - 'University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna Branch)' - a name coined when one of them was attached to the Jaffna University. According to the current teachers at the Jaffna University they have not been to Jaffna since they left more than 10 years ago. Anti - LTTE BiasA persistent theme in the UTHR (JB) reports has been an anti-LTTE bias. The bias, evident right from the start, has grown in intensity to a point of being an obsession. The Broken Palmyra, which described the atrocities of the IPKF well, blamed the LTTE for it. If only the LTTE didn't provoke the IPKF they wouldn't have behaved so badly towards the civilians, went the argument! With passage of time the authors found the bias to be advantageous and even profitable. The Sri Lanka government also found the reports helpful because of this bias. This is in spite of the fact that these bulletins also reported on the violations by the government forces. The government forces have been found responsible for over 90 percent of the civilian killings, and the percentage-blame for other forms of human rights violations is even higher. The number of 'reported' rapes committed by the government forces run in the hundreds, whereas the LTTE has never been accused of this crime. The UTHR (JB) bulletins, however, paint a contrary picture. The good deeds of the two sides are also reported lopsidedly. Numerous independent reports credit the LTTE for acts of assistance to civilians, such as emergency housing, food programs, employment, agricultural aid, etc., despite poor resources, but these have never found a place in the UTHR (JB) bulletins. Contrarily, the UTHR (JB) reports are full of praise for what little the army provides. Even well known war criminals like Janaka Perera have been praised. It is no wonder that the Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka government finds these reports useful. It uses these reports to counter criticism from other quarters, such as the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission, etc. President Chandrika has quoted these reports on numerous occasions, including her interview with Tim Sebastian in the program last December. The Sinhala owned media in Sri Lanka quotes these reports ad nauseam. The Sri Lankan army has even taken on the task of distributing some of these reports to foreign NGOs working in Sri Lanka. The government backing has helped UTHR (JB) with respectability, funding and also international recognition. Foreign governments, NGOs and the media, starved for news of events in Thamileelam due to the government censorship and the ban on visits to the 'war zones', have increasingly relied on these reports as their only source. The real teachers of the Jaffna University say, "the authors of the report have not even visited the North ever since they ceased to be members of the University staff [in 1991]" and that "the information contained in these reports are based on hearsay and authenticity of the sources from which they are supposed to have been obtained is open to question". The Tamil people have not been uncritical either. Apart from the Jaffna University itself decrying these reports for the last ten years, there have been numerous other instances where the Tamils have been bitterly critical. In 1998, the South Asia Media Services reported on the Tamil Diaspora reaction to these bulletins. UTHR (JB) Bulletin No. 28 Isolated from the Tamil community and feeling invincible in the Colombo environs, the Hoole brothers have gone overboard in their latest report. Now they are not only unreservedly critical of the LTTE but are also reproachful of anyone perceived to be supporters of the LTTE. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which won the December [2001] elections on a platform supporting the LTTE, is the primary target in the latest report. Elected TNA members are maligned with purported 'incidents', aptly termed by the Jaffna University dons in 1996 as 'based on hearsay'. Even the parliamentary elections, in which the TNA won hands-down, despite tremendous obstacles including murder by the government-aligned opponents, are questioned. A specter of 'large scale recruitment of child-soldiers', and parents running away to 'save their children from the LTTE', is raised and described, in their words, as akin to the 'African Slave Trade'. This report is venomous and reveals extreme frustration. We understand the disappointment of this duo. They have spent over ten years creating this apparition, describing the pre-eminent Tamil leadership as fascists, hated by most Tamils. Morally, they thought they were on high grounds. With the recent election results, and alsothe international support for negotiations with LTTE, the bubble has burst and they don't like it. [Top] 

Stop Killing the Children

By Desmond Tutu

Child Soldiers in Sri Lanka

Amnesty International

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