A Recipe for Expatriates

By Shyamon Jayasinghe, Melbourne

You know the best way to attack the LTTE? Expatriate Sri Lankan patriots should make of note of it. The best way is to campaign against LTTE’s practice of recruiting and training of child soldiers. Pressurise your host-country governments in every way you can, so that they in turn will be hard on the LTTE. Write to your media and keep writing and petitioning. Advertise everywhere!

Why would this strategy be effective? In the first place, child soldiers are vital for the LTTE because the adult drop- out rates for its army has become serious. This happens with many years of fruitless war. In order to sustain a sizeable force, the army recruits kids. Secondly, brainwashed kids provide the most motivated force one can think of. When minds are programmed from such a young age the motivation for effort is difficult to dissipate. The LTTE accordingly brainwashes kids to hate the Sinhalese and to go for them wherever they find them as if hunting for animals.

Thirdly, on the side of Western countries, the latter view the practice of training kids for armed conflict as something distinctly hideous and abhorrent. Their human rights industry can be made to wake up by siren calls from us.

Fourthly, in view of the publication of the report of the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), Mr. Olara Otunnu, an anti-child soldier campaign is most timely. The CAAC initiative is a landmark. Thus far, the United Nations Secretary General, the UN special organs like UNICEF etc have been complacent with merely issuing condemnations and doing nothing after that. The latter have been satisfied by “setting international norms” surprisingly not realising that terrorist groups don’t respect norms. As expected, the LTTE has not taken such overtures with even the level of seriousness of treating a Vanni mosquito. Sometimes, they have cheated the UN by first releasing a few child soldiers and subsequently re-recruiting them.

The CAAC, on the other hand, goes further toward a level of implementation by proposing a regular monitoring and reporting procedure and by recommending to the UN Security Council proposals to ensure LTTE adherence to a time-bound program to end this heinous practice. The proposals include the imposition of travel restrictions on leaders of the LTTE, their exclusion from any governance structures, and restrictions on the flow of financial resources. The CAAC recommendations also add that “where governments, weakened by years of conflict, are unable to do so, the U.N. Security Council, the General Assembly, the International Criminal Court, the Commission on Human Rights and regional organisations should supplement the efforts of national mechanisms.” In other words, direct UN intervention is mooted

Mr. Olara Otunnu must be congratulated for his initiative. He has obviously lost patience with the Tigers after the latter had reneged on their promises both to him in 1998 and to the United Nations Children’s Fund in 2003.



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