Plus - Letter to the editor

Innocent youths in camps are waiting to rejoin society

By a desperate father, (among thousands of deeply concerned Tamil parents)

I refer to your news item, “10,000 Tiger suspects in custody” (Sunday Times, September 27, 2009).
When the war in the North and East was in its final stages, the Tiger leaders and their henchmen rounded up Tamil students, government teachers and government employees of both sexes and forced them to join their ranks and fight on behalf of the LTTE. A large number of these youths were virtually kidnapped, and forced to leave their parents’ homes.

Many of these unwilling LTTE recruits escaped into government controlled areas while the war was still raging. Some rejoined their families and lived in safety to see the end of the war.

Others remained with the LTTE, fearing the LTTE would harm their families if they escaped from the Tigers’ clutches. When the war ended, these Tamil youths came over to the government-controlled areas. Many, fearing retaliation from the Tigers, sought refuge with the security forces.

These young people are now looking forward to a new future, with the war over, but they continue to be held in what are described as “rehabilitation” camps.

The authorities should note that a large majority of these Tamil youths had no desire to join the Tigers in the first place. They were forced to join the LTTE.

They had no choice. Now these young men, who were once part of the Tiger ranks, are living in relief camps under the protection of the Sri Lankan army and the security forces.

Why isn’t the government releasing these innocent youths – most of them teachers and civil servants – so they can be reunited with their families? These unfortunate young people are waiting to start a new life for themselves, and do their bit to help rebuild this nation.

Let us not indefinitely delay their release and re-integration with society.

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