Monday, April 07, 2014

Human Rights in Sri Lanka: Role of LTTE and Sri Lankan forces.

In the last post on Lexengine, I mentioned that the birth of LTTE is credited to the policies of the Sri Lankan Government. This led to a huge tussle between the armed forces of Sri Lanka and LTTE, in which the IPKF of India was also a party. However, this tussle spanning over two decades (1983 to 2009) was at the cost of huge human losses that even engulfed the head of the states of both India and Sri Lanka (assassination of our ex-PM Mr. Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and the President of Sri Lanka Premdasa in 1993).

Suicide Bombers.

If the Sri Lankan government is held responsible for the violations of rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka, the responsibility of LTTE can't be discarded. It was the LTTE that introduced suicide bombing to the world and prided itself on targeting innocent civilians in order to get the Sri Lankan government’s attention. The USA and other countries banned the LTTE and cited the major reason being its abhorrent human rights violations. According to the US State Department’s report on the LTTE’s Human Rights practices it states that,
“The LTTE continue to commit serious human rights abuses. The LTTE was responsible for politically motivated killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, harassment, abduction, disappearances, extortion, and detention. The LTTE continued to use and recruit child soldiers. Through a campaign of intimidation, the LTTE continued to undermine the work of elected local government bodies in Jaffna and the east. On occasion, the LTTE prevented political and governmental activities from occurring in the north and east. There were instances of intimidation of Muslims by the LTTE during the reporting period. The LTTE continued to control large sections of the north and east. The LTTE permitted journalists some access to the areas of the country it controlled. Some LTTE-imposed restrictions remained on freedom of movement of citizens. The LTTE denied those under its control the right to change their government, killed candidates standing for office, did not provide for fair trials, infringed on privacy rights, and discriminated against ethnic and religious minorities.”

Recruitment of child soldiers.

There are many examples of the human rights violations that have occurred within the LTTE but a very significant example would be the recruitment of child soldiers. Already at a disadvantage as a result of living through the war, Tamil children are susceptible to LTTE recruitment beginning at the age of eleven or twelve. As Human Rights Watch states,
“The LTTE routinely visits Tamil homes to inform parents that they must provide a child for the "movement." Families that resist are harassed and threatened. Parents are told that their child may be taken by force if they do not comply, that other children in the household or the parents will be taken in their stead, or that the family will be forced to leave their home. The LTTE makes good on these threats: children are frequently abducted from their homes at night, or picked up by LTTE cadres while walking to school or attending a temple festival. Parents who resist the abduction of their children face violent LTTE retribution.
Once recruited, most children are allowed no contact with their families. The LTTE subjects them to rigorous and sometimes brutal training. They learn to handle weapons, including landmines and bombs, and are taught military tactics. Children who make mistakes are frequently beaten. The LTTE harshly punishes soldiers who attempt to escape. Children who try to run away are typically beaten in front of their entire unit, a public punishment that serves to dissuade other children who might be tempted to run away.
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