What is the difference in Sri Lanka?

By Dr A. Karunanayake, Rotorua, New Zealand

The hostage crisis in Russia has ended in a very tragic manner killing and wounding innocent children giving the world a fearful indication to what the terrorists are capable of. President Bush said the hostage siege was "another grim reminder" of the lengths to which terrorists will go. World governments joined Washington in condemning the militants. "It is hard to express my revulsion at the inhumanity of terrorists prepared to put children and their families through such suffering," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said. This was reported in the media about the incident.

What we are experiencing in Sri Lanka with the LTTE recruiting children in to their cadres is similar. Those children are being sent to the front as cannon fodder and also trained as suicide carders. Their lives are similar to those who were kept hostage by the Russian terrorists. The hostages are kept at the brink of death by threat and these innocent kids in the northern Sri Lanka are kept in the verge of death by force and deliberate lying. Those mothers of the children in Jaffna who are being taken by the LTTE weep the same way as the mothers of the hostage kids in Russia. The fathers of the kids in Jaffna who were taken by the LTTE moan the same way as the fathers who cried in Russia. These parents are not allowed to make a public cry or make a protest by the gruesome terror mechanism that is prevalent in those areas and anyone who dare may have to pay with their lives or that of their other kids. Isn’t this the same thing what the Chechnya terrorist did in Russia yesterday, but in a different perspective? Washington London and other world governments should realise this simple truth and should be able to see through the irrelevant statements and points made by the terrorists to misguide them.

The world and the Sri Lankan authorities will have to come down very hard on the terrorism that is evidently prevailing in the country which has been masked by the bizarre cease fire agreement. The international community has to offer the Sri Lankan government their fullest support in curbing this terrorist menace which appears to be a volcano that is bubbling to erupt. If we wait till it erupts, a lot of precious lives and land will be lost to Sri Lankans and the whole world. One pediatrician involved in negotiations with the militants in Russia before they were stormed, called them (Chechnya terrorists) "very cruel people ... a ruthless enemy." The same thing has to be said about the terrorists elsewhere especially if they involve children in their murderous campaigns.

"I held a child by the legs and bashed its head against wall and enjoyed hearing the mother's screaming." This confession from a child soldier of the LTTE, is published in one of Amnesty International's "Children in South Asia--securing their rights."

The confession was attributed to this 15 year old LTTE child soldier in late 1994 after he was admitted toone of Sri Lanka’s Teaching hospital in January of the same year after complaints of insomnia, aggressive outbursts and abnormal behaviour. He had joined the LTTE at the age of 11, the report said. The report went on to quote the child as saying "They deserved to die". I underwent extensive training. He told doctors that after the attack, where he lost many friends he was shown videos of dead women and children and was told that his enemies had done this. Soon afterwards he was involved in attacks on several Muslim villages near Batticaloa. The recount was of one such attack on a village.

Among the other atrocities by the LTTE which were highlighted in the publication was the attack on the Temple of the Tooth on January 25, where 13 pilgrims, among them two children aged two and seven were killed.

Further attributions in the publication include an account of an unaccompanied teenager, who was seeking asylum in the UK, who claimed to have been marked for recruitment by the LTTE. They first came in 1993, the publication quoted. He was 14 and living with his family at a camp for internally displaced people at Urumpirai, Jaffna. The LTTE member who entered the family's hut was in civilian clothes, but others waiting outside were in uniform and were armed. When he and his sister refused, they allegedly said:"Think about it. If you don't join, we will come and take you." It was stated that AI knows of children as young as 12 who had been recruited against their will by the LTTE, and others as young as nine who have been seen carrying arms.

Should we still keep silent?



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