October 20th, 2010
11:55 AM ET

Sri Lanka claims about 4,700 Tamil militants 'rehabilitated'

Sri Lankans celebrate last year after the government declared an end to a 26-year civil war.

Sixteen months after a quarter-century-long conflict ended, Sri Lanka's embassy says it has rehabilitated thousands of Tamil Tiger militants.

The plan is to reintegrate them into society, said Brig. Sudantha Ranasinghe, the island nation’s commissioner general of rehabilitation.

“We have handed over 4,685 ex-combatants to their parents after rehabilitation. Six thousand more are to be rehabilitated,” Ranasinghe said in a press release from the Embassy in Washington.

The majority of the militants surrendered or were captured last year in the final days of a 26-year civil war. The Sri Lankan government declared the conflict over in May 2009 after claiming it had killed the Tigers’ leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said at the time that amnesty and rehabilitation would be central elements to a reconciliation campaign. The government also is offering counseling to child soldiers from the conflict, and hundreds of children have returned to their families and to school.

Last week, the government released 498 militants, half of them women, in the town of Vavuniya after they completed vocational and English training.

“The private sector firms have shown interest to recruit them, mostly in the apparel export sector,” the embassy news release said.

Before laying down their arms in May 2009, the Tamil Tigers, also known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, were a fierce militant group known for inventing the suicide bomb belt and employing women in suicide attacks, the Council on Foreign Relations reported.

They were also named in the assassinations of more than a dozen high-level government officials, including President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993 and Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in 2005.

The CFR backgrounder notes the Sri Lankan government is alleged to have committed its share of atrocities as well, including abductions, extortion, conscription and the use of child soldiers.

This week, Amnesty International called for an investigation into recent reports of war crimes that occurred during the conflict, including deprivation of food, water and medical care.

“Given the magnitude of the crimes that have been committed by both sides of the conflict, only a full independent international investigation into the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka will satisfy the global community,” Kate Allen, director of Amnesty UK, said in a news release.

Amnesty also called the government’s reconciliation effort “suspect at best” and expressed concern for tens of thousands of displaced Sri Lankans living in makeshift camps and for the 7,000 Tamil Tigers held incommunicado in “rehabilitation camps.”

Tamils are an ethnic group in southern India and Sri Lanka. They compose about 20 percent of Sri Lankans and are separated by their language (Tamil) and religion (Hinduism). The majority of Sri Lankans are Sinhalese, speak Sinhala and practice Buddhism.

The Tigers have sought an independent homeland for Tamils since the 1980s and feel persecuted by the Sinhalese, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Filed under: Ethnic studies • Militia • Sri Lanka • Terrorism • War
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. termlimits

    Like that will work? Ask them down at Gitmo how thats workin for 'em!

    October 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Markus30

      Dr. Bad, you are a weird psycho. but you're stupid, so you're vulnerable.

      October 20, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. k

    riddles riddles, what to do

    October 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JayKay

    Re-education is coming to America too, if the Tea Baggers have their way.

    October 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • termlimits

      Another mass exodus to Canada, like before the U.S. revolution. Better hire you some more doctors(physicians asst) your gonna need em! LOL!

      October 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richp, Easton, Pa

      Nah, as with progressive liberals being safe from zombies because they lack brains to eat this also makes them uneducatable too. :-))))))

      October 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ray gibbs

    Wow! What an undertaking. Poor Sir Lanka.

    October 20, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Selva

    It is incorrect to say Sri Lanka's military used child soldiers. They have a similar recruiting process just as most western countries and there was no need of minors as there were enough grown-ups without jobs there.

    But, for the Tigers, they did it as adults were in short supply and also they wanted to brain-wash the little Tamil souls with their seperatist ideas.

    Tigers are now gone and we Tamils are happy under the current government!!!

    October 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Krishnan

      Most of these so called journalists and reporters at CNN and foreign news agencies just do Cut-Paste journalism. They don't investigate anything, they only spread hearsay and rumours. I stopped reading the article when I read about the false allegation of govt recruiting child soldiers. Shows how much they know about srilanka, and how much potential they will ever have to even get a grasp of what Srilanka is....

      October 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portug Tuppai for Baila

      'Sri Lankan President is well-educated and well-mannered person' Iranian President commended at the UN, New York.

      October 20, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AndyTheGameIventor

    I think this is a great move on the part of Sri Lanka. Too many countries would have jailed these child soldiers for life "just in case" since they fought against the government.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Uncle Bully

    And the private sector is more than willing to enslave them in thier export apparel sweatshops.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tooltard

    that was fast! im not buying it

    October 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • scholar

      Not really. Most of the Tiger cadres were forced conscripts. They forced teens to join by coercian and threats to them or their family members. On the last days of the war 10,000 of these cadres surrendered. They are not a threat to Sri Lanka. Most of them are only underlings that never cared for terrorism. Hence it is not worth the trouble nor the expence to hold them any longer.

      If you look at it in a practical manner, Sri Lanka is doing a smart thing.

      Also, that is how Sri Lankans are. We don't keep grudges, we don't talk about feelings with strangers, and we take care of our own problems. Who the hell is this AI women to say that the Global community will not be satisfied? Is she Mrs.Global Community? I am a member of the global community and I don't remember appointing her as my spokesperson.

      The Sri Lankan people are satisfied. When 1000s of people were dying in a miserable war in SL, where was the concerned Global Community? We didn't ask for your help. We don't need your concern, you impractical fool.


      October 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Did YOu Learn My Name when I was on Mayor WEllingtons Webbs Saftey Committee?

    October 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    <b.<i. Who was it Tol YOu My Name Bill Clinton?
    was it the F.B.I. ? The State Depratement? The C.i.a ?
    I want to knwo what answer bill clinton.
    and im now going to feed you to the fuking wolves.

    October 20, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    October 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    you peopel have any more stupid question YOU go ask My ex wives barb and anna , (americans). THEY have ALL The answers YOU keep bothering ME for.

    October 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I want the Name of the person who told Glen Beck to put out an A.P.B. on Me?
    (which still stands)

    October 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    October 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Rupert Murdoch is australian? Does he have dual citizenship?

    October 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    are you aware australia is one of my countries? and i also have an ex wife and 3 children there?

    October 20, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    October 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wheres my M.I.A Army Nurse Deborah Christine D' Angelo from Jersey?

    October 20, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Butte falls oregon get a Fire Truck Yet?

    October 20, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    October 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Mehdi General Dr Bad
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    and spekaing of crazy di Mr. Mariah Carey – Dick Cannon ,go enlist yet?
    they stil living in my house?
    im not happy.

    October 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    October 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dhanuw

    Sri Lanka does not have to satisfy the interests of global community like Kate Allen says. We as Sri Lankans are very satisfied with what our government has achieved. If Amnesty International found out that LTTE terrorists committed war crimes, what will it do??? Put dead terrorists on trial??? So… why waste time and money??? The global community needs to realize that the terrorists are dead and gone in Sri Lanka and it is a good thing to happen in any country.
    People like Kate Allen trying to keep their jobs by creating conflicts on resolved issues. Kate… please do more productive things with your high paid job at the Amnesty International.

    October 20, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raj Kiran

      There are remnants of LTTE in the SL Government, to name a few, Col. Karuna (who executed 100s police officer in the east), Baticola Minister and most of all KP. All these men can be brought to just if found quilt.

      October 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ray gibbs

    Who's smoking what?

    October 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
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