UN growls - but does the Tiger care?
The UN Security Council might consider what are called 'targeting'
sanctions, such as travel and visa restrictions against countries
and armed militias using child soldiers in war. The appendix to
Secretary General Kofi Annan's report, which is the basis for the
Security Council's statement, lists the LTTE among others, as one
armed organization that recruits children for war.
is 'targeting'? Fine words buttered no parsnips! As far as the LTTE
is concerned, it has used UN organizations, the Sri Lankan government
and the world in general for a different kind of targeting.
the issue of child soldiers the LTTE has a consistently successful
history of targeting the world at large -- for its scorn. The LTTE
has not only been thumbing its nose at world opinion, but has also
run circles round Ted Chaiban, the UNICEF chief in Colombo who entered
into a deal with the LTTE to have some of the child soldiers freed.
But, the LTTE freed some, then abducted many later.
in this backdrop of nonchalant impunity that the new finely worded,
diplomatically calibrated warning to the LTTE arrives. Apparently,
we are also told that Olara Otunnu who made the recommendations
to Kofi Annan for the new sanctions, was contacted by the LTTE just
last week, soon after the UN statement was made. The LTTE has apparently
agreed to work with the UN, to "discuss the matter.''
an organization which has insisted by screaming from every bunker-top
available that it does not recruit child soldiers, it comes as a
bit of a weird posture. What's there to discuss, if the LTTE does
not have any children in its rank and file anyway? To the seasoned
arbiter, both the Security Council statement and the LTTE's reaction
to it sound as routine as the pittu served in Prabhakaran's Vanni
Annan's report says that the LTTE recruited 4,700 children since
2001. "We totally reject the accusations levelled against us
about recruiting children for war," says S.P Thamilselvan in
a response to that in the nitharsanam.com website.
are prepared to join and work with any organization that is acting
in a practical manner for the welfare of our children," he
then adds. Maybe he should have said that to the 40 children the
LTTE recruited from refugee camps after the December 26th tsunami.
UNICEF spokesman in Colombo, Geoffrey Keel, has said that the LTTE
has not responded to their charge about these 40 post tsunami recruits.
of the above, taken together with the fact that the LTTE continues
to recruit children for armed combat should invite no more comment
on the state of world affairs. We can rest our case. By the time
the UN "considers'' its sanctions, the LTTE would be recruiting
its new batch of baby-brigadiers.
delegations would be greeting LTTE leaders with body language that's
a study in deference and stilted courtesy. European Union leaders
will bend double, as if they were Japanese geishas. Japanese themselves,
such as Akashi will bend even better than geishas. Then, the show
will go on.
The trauma of children who are dragged away by the police
after their parents have deposited them in school is not just heartrending
-- it is obscene, and should disturb the sensibility of the most
inert. It's as bad as the trauma of the tsunami orphaned.
nobody seems to be bothered about these children. Getting into a
school these days - a halfway decent one - is harder than the proverbial
journey of a camel through the eye of a needle.
forging light-bills and title-deeds to qualify for admission is
a lifestyle change resultant from the wisdom that a child qualifies
for admission only if he or she resides within a stipulated radius
from the school in question. It's like the hundred meter tsunami-buffer
zone -- except perhaps that the allowable distance is a little longer,
while the possibility for fraud remains infinite.
of what earthly use is the area rule? It beats all elementary reason
in today's world that children should reside within a few miles
distance from a school to be qualified for admission, when most
children commute anyway, even as they get desiccated in biscuit-tin
vans that have replaced the red-topped school buses of a more spacious
the area rule stays, an ode to bureaucratic unreason, and testament
to the lack of imagination in a leadership that almost seems to
enjoy the possibilities for fraud and wheeler-dealing offered by
the annual school admissions circus.
as with the tsunami reconstruction effort that's gridlocked in bureaucratic
lethargy, the ruling elite is living in a fool's paradise. In short,
if people have no houses, and children have no schools - the system
will extract a prize. The possibility of public retribution on unthinking
and insensitive leadership is also infinite.