Saturday, May 12, 2007

LTTE large scale recruitment drive in north, Madhu area recruitment done over Church protest-NPC

Amnesty International and other sources have confirmed that the LTTE is engaging in forcible recruitment of both children and adult civilians on a large scale basis in North. In Madhu area, recruitment has been taking place over the protest of the Catholic Church, warned the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka (NPC) today. NPC is a peace think tank based in Colombo.

NPC said that the recruitment drive is "in preparation for an anticipated onslaught by government forces."

Madhu area is a predominantly Catholic enclave located 320 kilometres north of Colombo (in the District of Mannar).

NPC said "There is apprehension that the government may soon send in its ground troops in large numbers into the north to confront the LTTE there, as they have in the east."

The NPC statement in full:

"The absence of serious efforts to de-escalate the ongoing military confrontation between the government and LTTE is having a terrible impact on the civilian population. The situation in parts of the north, in particular, has sharply deteriorated with the LTTE stepping up its recruitment drive in preparation for an anticipated onslaught by government forces. There is apprehension that the government may soon send in its ground troops in large numbers into the north to confront the LTTE there, as they have in the east.

"One of the first targets appears to the Madhu area of the north which is currently under LTTE control in the vicinity of the sacred Catholic shrine of Madhu. As a result the situation there, it has become very tense and fearful and those internally displaced persons who were staying here in large numbers are reported to have moved to safer locations in and outside of areas under LTTE control.

"Amnesty International and other reputable sources have confirmed that the LTTE is engaging in forcible recruitment of both children and adult civilians on a large scale basis. This recruitment has been taking place over the protest of civil and moral authorities, including the Catholic Church, and is in gross violation of international humanitarian and human rights norms. In this context we welcome the recent LTTE notice in its media that parents can obtain the release of their underage child recruits.

"The National Peace Council reiterates its condemnation of forcible recruitment of civilians of any age to fight in war. We particularly reject the conscription of children which is a traumatic experience for both them and their families and one that is likely to scar them for life. Such recruitment also continues to take place in the east of the country, by both the LTTE and the Karuna group which operates as a political party within government-controlled territory.

"The human costs of continued confrontation between the government and LTTE are very high. There is an urgent need for an alternative path to conflict resolution. The National Peace Council regrets that at the present time neither the government nor the LTTE appear to have either the political vision or commitment to carve out that path. So long as they continue to be locked in a cycle of violence the people can have no escape.


UN to take action against LTTE and Karuna faction for child recruitment

Sri Lanka’s terrorists outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam led by its reclusive leader Velupillai Prabakaran and the Karuna Group led by V.Muralitharan alias Colonel Karuna Amman are to be warned for the continued recruitment of underage children.

The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict considering the Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation of Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka, has decided that its Chairman will issue a strong public warning to the LTTE stating that further measures will be taken by the Security Council for its continued failure to cease the recruitment of children and to release child combatants.

According to UNICEF, since 2001 alone, the LTTE has forcibly recruited over 5700 child combatants. The Working Group report has called attention to the “continuous, ongoing and even increasing pattern of abduction, recruitment and use of children by the LTTE, in spite of previous commitments contained in the Action Plan for Children affected by war in March 2003,” and has “strongly condemned the continuous recruitment and use of child soldiers and all other violations and abuses committed against children by the LTTE.”

The Working Group, chaired by the Permanent Representative of France to the UN was attended by the members of the UN Security Council. Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, addressing the Working Group on this occasion stated that Sri Lanka endorses the strong message that has been delivered to the LTTE.

Further prevarication on their part, he said, must entail further serious consequences. The Ambassador emphasized that Sri Lanka, as a long-standing member of the UN, and as a party to all seven core UN Human Rights Conventions, works with all UN mechanisms in promoting human rights, democracy, pluralism and the rule of law, as well as advancing international peace and security in defeating terrorism and violence in all forms and manifestations.

He pointed out that in the meantime, the actions by the non-state actor, the LTTE, abnegates well-established international norms, and subverts the will of a section of the people it claims to represent. He remarked that, for the sake of peace and security Sri Lanka cannot allow such a terrorist agenda to flourish in any part of the country, and that the Government is of the firm view that a group which uses children as tools of terror, holds children to ransom, and denies children their future, deserves only a strong and decisive response.

The Working Group report also refers to the use of child combatants by the Karuna faction, which according to the UNICEF has as of March 2007, 194 outstanding cases out of 285 children known to have been recruited by them.

The Working Group report “strongly condemning the recent recruitment and use of child soldiers and all other violations and abuses committed against children by the Karuna faction,” has said it will also issue a strong public warning to the Karuna faction. The Working Group report has urged them to engage with UNICEF to release all children among their ranks and prevent further unlawful recruitment of children.


Karuna and Pillaiyan to patch up ?

Pillaiyan and Karuna

Moves are afoot to patch up the difffernces between V.Muralitharan, alias Karuna Amman, leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal and his commander Pilliyan. The go-betweens are urging them to come to some working arrangement where they can work together.

The current move is to keep Karuna Amman as the overall leader of the TMVP in charge of the political activities of his outfit. Pilliyan is to be formally anounced as the deputy leader of TMVP and he will be in charge of the military wing of the TMVP. Under this arrangement Pilliyan will be in complete charge of all military activities. He will be given complete authority to take whatever decisions that are needed to run the military wing of the TMVP. But sources suggest that it would be necessary for Pilliyan to consult with TMVP leader while taking any important decisions.

It has also been suggested that those commanders involved in the killings of the TMVP cadres should be disarmed and allowed to work in the political division of the outfit.

Asian Tribune learns that secret negotiations are going on and both the feuding leaders have agreed to abide by the decisions reached by the negotiators.

In the meantime Asian Tribune learns that Sri Lanka Army is closely watching both factions to avoid any spillover of any serious fighting between the two parties in the government control area.

According to the latest information Pilliyan and his men are still waiting, hoping that common sense would prevail and a satisfactory solution would be reached soon to avoid another fratricidal war similar to that 2004 Good Friday incident in which more than 175 Karuna’s cadres were mowed down by the rampaging LTTE cadres and brought the east under the control.


Pillayan vows to fight both Karuna and Prabha

New breakaway group claims to have more cadres; Karuna likely to flee

Former Karuna associate Pillayan yesterday vowed to continue his fight against the LTTE while ruling out reconciliation with Karuna Amman from whose faction he broke away recently following a bitter feud.

“We will continue to fight against the Prabhakaran-led Wanni cadres but we will definitely not patch up with Karuna Amman,” a spokesman for the Pillayan group told the Daily Mirror.

He said the Karuna-breakaway group led by Pillayan and including senior military and political leaders and some 350 cadres was based in Trincomalee.

“Most of the former Karuna faction’s senior military and political wing leaders are with us. Karuna is only left with a handful of seniors,” the spokesman said.

He said military and political leaders like Jeyam, Markan, Thooyavan – the former spokesman for the Karuna faction - Eelamaran, Pradeep Master - former eastern political leader and Suranga, have joined forces with the new splinter group.

The Pillayan spokesman said leaders like Sinnathambi, Bharathee, Thileepan and Jeevendran were among those still loyal to Karuna.

“We have the full control of the military wing of the Karuna faction. We do not want to link with the Wanni’s fascist terrorists and will continue our struggle to rescue innocent Tamil-speaking people from Prabhakaran’s grip,” the spokesman claimed.

He revealed that though the initial arrangement was for Karuna to be the overall leader of the TMVP (Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal) – the political wing of the Karuna faction with Pillayan the party’s deputy leader in charge of its military wing.

“But it did not work out as Karuna did not like that arrangement,” the spokesman said. Meanwhile, it is learnt that Karuna was to leave the country with some of his close associates because of split in the faction.

A few weeks, ago, Karuna’s deputy leader Pillayan parted ways with Karuna over the alleged misuse of TMVP funds by Karuna Amman. Later two close associates of Pillayan were killed by Karuna.


Polls after LTTE flushed out: Eastern Army Commander

Tiger terrorists now confined only to Thoppigala area

Eastern Army Commander Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya was optimistic that people in the east would get a chance to elect their public representatives shortly after flushing out the LTTE within the next few days.

The Major General told journalists on Thursday they would clear the east of Tiger terrorists now confined only to the Thoppigala area.

He made these comments amidst widespread speculation about some political parties laying ground work for a provincial council election in the east soon.

The government had completed the resettlement of internally displaced persons in the recently captured Vakarai area situated north of Batticaloa.

The resettlement of around 15,000 persons was done covering 11 Grama Seva divisions, and civil administration was carried out as usual.

233 Brigade Commander Lt. Col. W.A.V. Anura Sudasinghe said the Divisional Secretariat, the bus depot and the Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society had commenced work now.

He said the hospital was also functioning with a residential doctor. In addition, academic activities are carried out at 11 out of 12 schools in the area. Three main post offices were also functioning at present.

Commenting on the difficulties faced in the resettlement process, the top ranking military officer said the de-mining of landmines and the bad weather prevalent in the area were among their biggest challenges.

He said they were able to de-mine over 5000 anti-personal bombs in the process.

“There were heavy mine fields. We have almost cleared the area of landmines,” he said.

The military cited the damage caused to various properties by fleeing LTTE cadres as a hurdle in the resettlement of persons. As for transport facilities, 11 buses operate to and from Vakarai.

The media tour had been organized by the Government’s Information Department to observe the progress of the resettlement process.


The fact of the mat

Amid contradictory and confusing reports on what is happening in Vakarai, this is what passes for a school for the war-affected children. With no desks or blackboards and only one chair for the teacher, the children sit on mats. They may not be able to learn much but it gives a powerful lesson on the inequitable distribution of educational resources. Pic. by Pradeep Dilrukshana