Colombo, Jan. 28 (Reuters): Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels blamed ceasefire violations, including abduction of child soldiers, on a lack of discipline in their ranks, Nordic truce monitors said after meeting rebel leaders today.
The head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) Trond Furuhovde said Tiger political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan had asked the monitors for reports on trouble-making cadres and pledged action against them, during a three-hour meeting.
“Thamilselvan asked SLMM for detailed reports on issues of abductions, harassment and child recruitment. They took the complaints very seriously,” monitors’ spokesman Teitur Torkelsson told Reuters after speaking with Furuhovde by phone from the rebels’ northern Sri Lanka base.
The government and Tamil Tigers have been observing a truce since last February and have held several rounds of talks to end their 19-year separatist war, but the rebels have recently come under fire over allegations they continue to draft children.
In a report on ceasefire violations in December, the monitors’ figures showed more than five times as many complaints made against the rebels as the government.
The Tigers have admitted to having underage recruits in their ranks in the past, but say the practice has stopped.
“We have to hope there is sincerity there. In past in cases where we have pointed out individual trouble-makers, they have been removed,” Torkelsson said.
Sri Lanka’s President has also joined the chorus over the issue of child recruitment, calling on the police and army to take stronger action to prevent abductions.
“The violations of the (truce) agreement continue to happen, particularly with regard to the abduction of children,” President Chandrika Kumaratunga wrote in the letter addressed to army commander Lionel Balagalle. “I would like you (the army) to act immediately to prevent these unlawful acts and apprehend the culprits whoever they may be, and bring them before the law,” she said.