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Al Jazeera bares Thoppigala child soldiers’ horror story

DOHA: An underaged girl told a reporter of Al Jazeera Television that she was kidnapped while going with her mother to visit her grandmother after cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked her mother.

“I was walking with my mother going to see my grandmother,” one of the girls told Al Jazeera. “Then the LTTE attacked my mother and took me away,” said one of six girls who said they were forced to fight for the terrorist group at Thoppigala, or Barrons Cap Rock area where the group has just lost four terrorist camps.

Tony Birtley of Al Jazeera Television reported from Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province that, “In a police station in eastern Sri Lanka, six seemingly ordinary teenage girls wait to be processed.

Their short hairstyles mark them out as female fighters in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Al Jazeera further reported: “Pushpu, another of the girls, says she was taken three months ago as she tended her parents’ vegetable garden. Most of the girls are about 16-years-old. Pushpu is only 14.

“The girls were trained to use machine guns and dig bunkers in an area called Thoppigala, bombarded daily by the Army. They say they ran away because they could not bear the hardships of life with the Tigers.

“They say they are innocent victims and that they just want to go back to school, but first they will either be sent to jail or for rehabilitation. The girls’ stories are part of a growing problem in Sri Lanka.

“In the east of the country the activities of a Tamil group led by ‘Colonel’ Karuna, a former LTTE leader, have come under scrutiny. He has started a political party and now his political opponents have disappeared, but there is no direct evidence against him.

“Very few families are prepared to talk about the growing number of abductions. One woman, though, did speak to Al Jazeera. Her 29 year old son, a rickshaw taxi driver, was taken away by two men nearly a year ago. Nothing has been heard since. Al Jazeera interviewed relatives of a Vice Chancellor got disappeared last December.

This is what they reported: “Professor Sivasubramaniam Ravindranth, the vice Chancellor of the Eastern University in Batticaloa, disappeared after attending a conference in Colombo last December. We haven’t got even a single call or nothing. We didn’t know anything where he is or whether he alive or not,” Dushyanthi Malaravan, his daughter, told Al Jazeera.

“But we hope because they can’t do anything to him because he is a very kind man, polite, he talks a little but ... no words to say,” she said, falling silent.

Asian Tribune

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