TMVP led by Karuna says
it is high time that Human RightsWatch come up with new procedures
to do way with fraudulent affidavits, wrong feedbacks responsible
for misleading your organization.
Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP)
11/3A, Scohofield Place,
Given below the full text of the letter written by S. Padmini, Secretary,
TMVP Political Headquarters, Colombo.
Ms. Joe Becker
Childrens Rights Division
Human Rights Watch,
United States of America
14 February, 2007
Dear Madam Joe Becker,
Greetings and best wishes.
This letter bears reference to my last letter dated 02 February 2007.
In that letter I have very categorically denied the content of unequivocal
and superfluous report prepared and released by your organization:
Sri Lanka: Karuna Group Abducts Children for Combat Government
Complicit in Forced Recruitment of Young Tamils. One more time
I take this opportunity inform you that the said report was incorrect,
false, mischievous, misleading, prepared with intent and motive to
deflect and there is no truth in them.
I have brought to your kind notice that your researchers who went
to Sri Lanka have come up with unauthenticated reports, affidavits
and feedbacks manipulated by the vested interest groups, which are
simply a calculated attempt to malign and discredit the name and the
growing popularity of the Tamil Makal Viduthalai Pulikal- a political
party which believes in human rights, freedom of expression, pluralism,
rule of law and above all democracy and in Sri Lankas, amity,
unity, peaceful coexistence and sovereignty.
However your organization come up with innuendoes, fabricated and
supplanted tales and statements, the fact remains that TMVP military
wing is not at all involved in the abduction and forceful recruitment
of underage children as alleged by you and by Ambassador Allan Rock
In my capacity as the Secretary of Tamil Makkal Viduthalaui Pulikal,
I hereby make it public that Tamil Makkal Viduthalaui Pulikal military
wing do not have with them not even one single underage child.
This has been time and again told and reiterated to you Madam Joe
Becker when our Leader V.Muralitharan talked to you over the telephone
on 29 November 2006, subsequently on 04 December 2006 when he spoke
to Radhika Coomarasawmy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
for Children and later he reiterated it when he again spoke to you
on 09 February over the telephone.
Also, I told that Tamil Makkal Viduthalaui Pulikal military wing
do not have with them not even one single underage child to Ambassador
Alan Rock when he visited my office on November 2006.
I am at a loss to understand, why you all fail to discern and comprehend
the basic fact that if we have any single underage child with our
armed forces, we are fully aware that we would be exposed one day
or other and our credibility would be tarnished. Taking it into fully
cognizance, we make today public our declaration that we have not
one single underage cadre with us.
We are at a loss to understand the purpose behind the calculated
move to malign us and attempts taken to perpetuate an untruth by Human
Rights Watch as TMVP is involved in the abduction and recruitment
of under age children in Sri Lanka.
I am sorry to comment that your procedures adopted by your organization
to obtain the so called unsubstantiated statements, manipulated affidavits
and unauthenticated documents to allege us and discredit us with unfounded
and baseless allegations, are today outdated and it is time to reevaluate
them urgently without inflicting more harm in the name of defenders
of human rights. Kindly take a close look at your outdated procedures
and try to rectify them as early as possible.
Kindly understand that Human Right Watch is also an organization
manned by human beings, who area fallible and not by someone dropped
from the sky or moon. Therefore it is high time to put your house
in order before trying to preach others on values, virtues, rights
I think that it is high time that you come up with new procedures
to do way with the outdated ones and also put your researchers under
microscope who were responsible for the fraudulent affidavits, feedback
and responsible for misleading your organization.
Please take note, that the last letter you addressed to me was addressed
wrongly. You have addressed our party as Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai
Pulikal. In fact our party is called Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal
i.e. Tamil Peoples Liberation Tigers and not as you has written
Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal. We have dropped that word Eelam
because we dont believe in a separate state of Eelam. We are
striving to have a united, sovereign country of Sri Lanka, or Ilankai
as the country is called in the Tamil Language, where Tamils, Muslims
and Sinhalese can peacefully coexist with, equality, freedom and sustained
peace for ever.
In the telephone conversation you had with our Party Leader Mr. V.
Muralitharan on 09 February 2007, he clearly told you that he left
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in March 2004, because
he was not happy with the LTTE. He explained to you that he left the
LTTE to enter democratic process and work for our people in particular
and for the welfare of our country in general.
I was told that he has clearly explained to you that as a military
commander of the LTTE, he has seen the scourge of war. He has told
you (Open Quote)I have seen enough of deaths and destructions
and realized military campaign will not be the right solution to the
issues confronting the Tamils and Muslims and Sinhalese people of
the country. Furthermore I never had a craze for war and to hold on
to lethal weapons.(Quote closed)
According to our Leaders telephone conversation with you, he
explained that when he left the LTTE and started a new political outfit,
he appealed to the then President Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga to provide
us with security, but she failed to do so.
We were not aware why the then President did not come forward to
provide security to us, but in the meantime LTTE sent its gunmen and
started killing our armed cadres. On the Good Friday attack at Verugal
on 10 May 2004 alone, the LTTE killed more than 170 of our cadres
in one day. After those fratricidal killings LTTE had killed to date,
another 300 of our unarmed cadres.
Mr. Muralitharan explained to you why he started an armed wing. (Open
quote) As the killing continued unabatedly, we were left with
two options to flee or resist further attack on us. We decided
to stay put and continue with our struggle. This decision of ours
forced us to organize a military unit of the TMVP to protect our cadres
from being attacked by the LTTE. Since then we have a military unit
camped in four five locations deep into the jungles in the Eastern
provinces in no-mans lands.
When I left the LTTE in 2004, I disbanded a military unit of
more than 4000 militant carders. We released hundreds of underage
children who were earlier recruited on the orders of LTTE leader Velupillai
In the course of a telephone conversation, you (Madam Joe Becker)
corroborated that during that period in 2004 you were present in Sri
Lanka and had heard when you visited Trincomalee and Batticalao about
my releasing of hundreds of child soldiers. (Close quote)
I was told that he told you that right from the beginning, he was
opposed to our young children being abducted and recruited into the
militant outfit as child soldiers baby brigade.
What Mr. Muralitharan told you is one of his cherished dreams: (Open
Quote) I wanted my Tamil children to have a descent education
and nothing else. Even my commander Pilliyan was recruited by the
LTTE when he was 14 years and he is today 29 years old. We know well
the mental and physical agony our children undergo when they were
abducted, deprived from their familiar domestic environment and compulsorily
given arms training to become the cannon fodder.
When I was with the LTTE, I took special care to provide education
to my cadres. I also opened up an international school in Batticalao
for my Tamil and Tamil speaking Muslim children to have the benefit
of the modern education and acquire knowledge in the English language.
Opening up of the international school with the best of intentions
was opposed by the leader of the LTTE Velupillai Prabakaran and that
was one of the many reasons for me to leave the LTTE in March 2004.
When this was my position, your organization continues to blame
that TMVP, a political party under my leadership of having abducted
and recruit under age children.
Kindly understand that there is nothing called Karuna Faction
as alleged by you. There is only Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal and
I am the leader of the political organization. (End Quote)
Furthermore, when the TMVP dropped the word Eelam from
our party name it was a very clear indication that we are not going
to wage war with anyone to set up a separate state, in whatever fanciful
name, by splitting Sri Lanka.
Kindly also understand that we have no intention of waging a war
with LTTE which is already in shambles. That is not our intention.
The fighting and eliminating the terrorist organization LTTE is the
work of the Government of Sri Lanka, which is duty bound to safeguard
its territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. That is
the duty of Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air force.
Madam Joe Becker, when someone read your letter addressed to me it
is very clear that you have taken the laborious trouble to come up
with petty details with fabricated and unfounded allegation, to cover
up your deliberate intentions to blame the TMVP, a political party
that has just made its entry into the political mainstream of Sri
I am not interested in going into all those details because they
were already amply covered by our leader when he spoke to you over
the telephone and you are simply repeating them over and over again.
I wanted to point a serious lapse in your letter. I have at no time
mentioned in my earlier letter addressed to you the name of Tamil
Information Centre, a pro-LTTE organization based in London.
I am at a loss to know why you dropped the name of that pro-LTTE organization
alleging that I blamed the Human Rights Watch for contacting them
and misled by them.
Mr. Muralitharan again reiterated to you that he invited you as well
as your team to visit Sri Lanka when he spoke to you on 29 November
2006 and also he extended the invitation again to your team members
and to you to visit Sri Lanka and meet him for a face to face discussion
and with our office bearers and cadres, when he spoke to you again
on 09 February 2007.
We have nearly 13 political offices. Their details attached with
this letter in a Table format.
Sri Lanka Police is providing protection to our party offices and
this not sort of a concession to us. Sri Lanka police is also providing
protection to all the other political party offices all over the island,
except those located in Vanni under the LTTEs control. Earlier
when the LTTE had its political offices in the Government controlled
areas, they too were given protection by the Sri Lanka Police. Also
the LTTEs proxy party members of parliament Tamil National Alliance
(Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchchi they contested parliamentary
general elections in this registered political party) too are given
In some sensitive areas, we are being advised to locate our party
branch offices in close proximity of the Sri Lanka Police stations
or else to the Sri Lanka Army camps, because it would be easy for
them to give protection to our party branch offices as well as to
our political cadres.
Despite all the security arrangements we have made, the LTTE rogue
cadres managed to penetrate the security cordons and attacked our
party branch offices and also killed as well as injured many of our
unarmed political party activists.
(Details are given in the attached Table)
As our offices are located in areas under the control of the Sri
Lanka Government we are not allowed to carry weapons.
I wish to point out that we are interested in working very closely
with the UNICEF for the simple reason our leader wanted our political
and military cadres fully aware of the international commitments to
humanity. He wanted all of us to be trained on the human rights laws,
children rights for our cadres to be fully trained on the need to
be aware of their obligations towards the fellow humanity.
We voluntarily contacted UNICEF in Sri Lanka to conduct workshop
for our cadres regarding human issues.
Regarding unannounced visit to our army camps by the UNICEF representatives,
I think our leader has explained it very clearly to you. I am afraid
that any unannounced visit by the UNICEF delegate might put them in
harms way and we should not be held responsible if anything happen
to them if they try to venture out to our army camps without our guidance.
I am sorry we cannot do anything further on this subject. Just to
accommodate your request we are not willing to put are cadres lives
In conclusion I wish to inform you that we have decided to conduct
an awareness campaign in the nook and corners of Sri Lanka bringing
to the knowledge of everyone that Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal
is not at all involved in the abduction of underage children and to
warn the parents as well as school children to take maximum precaution
against such abduction.
If in case such abduction takes place, we will advise the parents
and school teachers and authorities to immediately lodge a complaint
with the Sri Lanka Police, followed by handing over a copy of the
written complaint to the regional UNICEF office and if interested
they can also provide a copy of such complaints to TMVP offices located
in the area.
If in case we receive such complaints of abduction of underage children
we will try our best to help the parents to locate their children
and also participate in their struggle to get their children back
from the criminals who abducted their children.
In conclusion in case either human Rights watch or UNICEF receives
any complaints in the future that TMVP cadres have abducted any underage
children kindly refer them to us so that we may be able to investigate
such allegations and post you the results of our investigations.
With thanks and regards.
Secretary, TMVP Political Headquarters,
Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Given below the full text of the letter written by Joe Becker, Advocacy
Childrens Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
February 9, 2007
Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP)
11/3A, Scohofield Place,
Dear Ms. Padhmini,
Thank you for your letter of February 2, responding to Human Rights
Watchs recent report regarding abductions of children and young
men by the Karuna group. We also appreciated the opportunity to speak
with Mr. Muralitharan again by telephone today to continue our dialogue
with the TMVP on these issues of mutual concern.
To start, I would like to emphasize that your letter is not accurate
regarding our past communications, the content of our report, or the
conduct of our investigation. We also remain concerned that in our
telephone conversation today, Mr. Muralitharan continues to deny any
recruitment or use of children by the Karuna group.
1) You state that the publication of our report before the receipt
of your January 23, 2007 letter demonstrates a rush to judgment
by Human Rights Watch. However, Human Rights Watch first contacted
you with a faxed letter on November 24, 2006, requesting specific
information regarding the Karuna groups recruitment policies
practices. In that letter, we clearly requested a response by December
4 in order for the reply to be reflected in our report. In addition,
in our telephone conversation with Mr. Muralitharan on November 29,
we requested a copy of the Karuna groups code of
conduct. This request was reiterated in writing in a letter to you
on November 30. However, we received no reply until January 23, 2007.
Nonetheless, we obtained a copy of the TMVP military regulations
at the last moment before publication and made an extra effort to
include them in the report as Annex V.
2) You claim that Human Rights Watch did not accept an invitation
from Mr. Muralitharan to visit Karuna camps in order to verify our
allegations of child abduction. In fact, Mr. Muralitharan did not
offer access to Karuna military camps during our November 29
conversation. During our conversation we discussed only the issue
of UNICEF access to the camps, and Mr. Muralitharan stated that anyone
can visit our political offices, but that some military
camps are in areas where there are threats to the security of people
who visit them. He stressed the danger of landmines. When Human
Rights Watch asked Mr. Muralitharan if he would give UNICEF access
to the camps to verify that all cadres were over age, he stated that,
despite the security risks, he would definitely consider it.
We did not discuss access by Human Rights Watch to the camps. While
we appreciate the invitation in your letter for Human Rights Watch
to visit these camps, and we are open to discussing ways in which
this could be done, we consider it is much more important for UNICEF
to have this access because the agency is in a better position to
monitor conditions and investigate allegations of child recruitment
and abductions on an ongoing basis.
In todays telephone conversation with Mr. Muralitharan, he
reiterated that TMVP political offices are accessible at all times,
but stated that visits to the camps could only be done with prior
arrangement. While we understand that there are serious security concerns
related to unannounced visits, we hope that a system for such visits
can be worked out, to ensure that UNICEF can conduct proper visits.
3) In your letter, you restate several of the claims that Mr. Muralitharan
made in his telephone conversation with us on November 29 and again
today by telephone, including his denial that the Karuna group has
abducted children, and that the LTTEs recruitment of children
was the primary reason why he left the LTTE. We reflected these comments
in our report (see pages 45-46). However, they are contradicted by
the evidence we collected from eyewitnesses during our October investigation,
reports from local nongovernmental organizations, and by the ongoing
documentation by UNICEF. Despite Mr Muralitharans claims, this
evidence leaves no doubt that the Karuna group is responsible for
the abduction of hundreds of children and young men. In fact, the
most recent UNICEF statistics show that reported abductions by the
Karuna group are on the rise.
4) Your letter states that our report is an attempt to deflect
attention from the LTTEs recruitment of children. To the
contrary, the report makes it very clear that the LTTE has recruited
children throughout the more than two-decade long conflict. In our
report, we cite the same UNICEF statistic5,956 documented cases
of child recruitment by the LTTE since 2002that you mention
in your letter. We also devote a special section of the report (pages
73-79) to continuing child recruitment by the LTTE. In fact, the report
recommends to the UN Security Council that it impose targeted sanctions
on the LTTE in light of its violations over many years. Our previous
report on child soldiers in the LTTE, Living in Fear: Child
Soldiers and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, makes clear that
we hold the LTTE firmly to account.
5) In your letter, you claim that our investigators were guided by
the Tamil Information Center and LTTE representatives in the Batticaloa
district. This is false. Our researchers had no contact with the LTTE
during our investigation.
We are encouraged to know that the TMVP has been in discussions with
UNICEF to developan action plan to end child recruitment, and to negotiate
access to Karuna camps. However, in light of this dialogue and the
commitments Mr. Muralitharan made to the Special Representative to
the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, we are particularly
disappointed to see that the number of cases of child recruitment
reported to UNICEF and attributed to the Karuna group more than doubled
from December 2006 to January 2007. In fact, we note that for the
month of January, UNICEF has for the first time documented a larger
number of child recruitment cases attributed to the Karuna group than
to the LTTE.
We appreciate Mr. Muralitharans invitation, which he repeated
today, for Human Rights Watch to meet with him. We will certainly
request such a meeting the next time Human Rights Watch representatives
visit Sri Lanka.
In the meantime, Human Rights Watch stands firmly by our report,
and we reiterate our call on the TMVP and its military wing to immediately
stop all recruitment of children, and to immediately release all children
from the Karuna group ranks. We will publicly welcome and laud such
a positive step.
We welcome continued discussion with you regarding this issue.
Childrens Rights Division