Posted: 10:45a.m. IST, December 12, 2011
Colombo, Dec 12 (ANI): Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels recruited children as young as 14 years to take part in final defences against government forces, a former senior official has revealed.
The official, who held a non-military position with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), claimed that in 2009, the rebels found themselves in an ever-worsening situation that led them to step up their forced recruitment of civilians between the ages of 14 and 55.
Some of the youngsters were sent to fight with just one day's basic training, and a number of civilians who tried to escape to the government side were shot, revealed the former official, who said his own child had been forcibly recruited, but was able to escape towards government troops.
There was no age discrimination. One day's training and then [they would] get sent to the war front, the Independent quoted the former official, as saying.
The official also provided an insight into how the LTTE's leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, seized on the ambitions of Tamil nationalists, including those who were opposed to violence.
He was a good leader. In all things he was adamant, he was focused. There is no chance for another uprising now. There is no leadership. The Tamil diaspora can provide some political pressure, but anything else is not possible, the paper quoted him, as saying.
Asked about the LTTE's tactic to target civilians and even schoolchildren, the official said not everyone within the movement supported the move and were aware of the international backlash it would bring.
He said that the tactic was adopted because the rebels 'wanted to create a panic among the Sinhala people.'
The official, who is due before a court next year to face charges relating to his role with the LTTE, claimed that since the end of the war, the government had done little in terms of promoting reconciliation.
The main thing is to find a political solution. The war is over, the LTTE is defeated. So far there has been no signal about a political solution. They say they are having negotiations, but people are not satisfied, the official said. (ANI)