We have clear and compelling evidence that government forces are helping Karuna forces abduct boys and young men

   28 November 2006, early morning

The LTTE are particularly infamous for their recruitment of child soldiers. It is the most common criticism hurled against them. For quite sometime now the LTTE has contended they don’t have child conscripts in their army — whether you believe them or not is a choice you need to make. Recently, a representative of the United Nations accused the government of being complicit in the recruitment of children into the Karuna Group today, Human Rights Watch has also made this accusation.

We have clear and compelling evidence that government forces are helping Karuna forces abduct boys and young men.
— Jo Becker, children’s rights advocate at HRW.

That’s one hell of an accusation. Whether it gets any play whatsoever in the press remains to be seen. The government of Sri Lanka has gotten off fairly easy despite the fact it has an equally poor record when it comes to protecting children. Unrelated to the war you have a very bad child pornography problem. With respect to the war, you have the way the army handles itself in the pursuit of Tigers. The government has no qualms when it comes to shelling civilian areas in the hopes of hitting some LTTE cadres. For example, they blew up on orphanage not too long ago. It’s easy for people to argue away criticism like this; you can call it the cost of war or something equally stupid. (A little known fact: It’s even easier to argue this sort of thing away if it isn’t your children being blown up.) It’s hard to defend recruiting child soldiers: it’s premeditated and malicious; you’re preying on the truly helpless. I’m curious to see how the government will respond to the charge. [Update: Parthi lets me know the government has called the charge village gossip.] I’m curious to see how the world will respond to the charge.

HRW is also in effect agreeing with the LTTE’s accusation that the Karuna group is another arm of the government’s military apparatus. The LTTE have accused the government of waging a hidden war against them through the group for some time now, and it would appear these charges have a lot of merit. When the LTTE claim they have no choice but to wage war with the government, it’s hard to argue against them. The government involvement with a paramilitary group like this is beyond reproach. How can you be involved in a cease-fire agreement, while supporting a group whose goal is to goad the LTTE into violating that very agreement.

So I am left wondering why here in Canada, the US, and Europe the LTTE marked as terrorists and not the government of Sri Lanka? Both groups are vicious and undeserving of support.

An aside: Sepia Mutiny felt mocking Prabhakaran’s wardrobe was a better use of their time and resources than covering this topic. That’s their prerogative; they have no real obligation to anyone. I just find it hard to take them seriously when they get all fired up about racism in the US or whatever their issue of the moment is. (In their defense, he does look pretty ridiculous. All of the photographs of various Tamil rebel leaders I’ve seen make them look like they could be my uncles.)



  1. “All of the photographs of various Tamil rebel leaders I’ve seen make them look like they could be my uncles.”

    Who knows, they very well could be!

    The SM post rubbed me the wrong way too. Yes he’s a dink but, considering what’s going on there right now, to focus on this seems to almost trivialize the situation. Maybe we’re just being overly sensitive? Anyway, SM fell off after Manish left; it’s gotten too narrow, the same type of voice is pervasive now.

  2. I thought your aside was kind of weird. Are you really criticizing some blog for spending their “time and resources” making fun of someone? Really, I thought you’d be all for that.

  3. I’m all for people mocking each other on the Internet — I do it all the time. My issue with Sepia Mutiny is that the only two things they write about when it comes to Sri Lanka are on the LTTE or M.I.A. Their ignoring of this story is just more of the same from them. That’s what I was trying to point out. (I think i’ve mentioned this in the past when linking to them.)

  4. I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone complained about how the Sepia Mutiny thread trivializes the war in Sri Lanka.

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