Frances Harrison / BBC – 2004-05-10 09:31:09
COLOMBO (May 6, 2004) — Parents are registering complaints with international truce monitors that their children are being recruited. Past experience shows only a fraction of parents whose children are taken actually complain because of the fear of reprisals.
Independent observers say recruitment has been quite aggressive, with rebels standing outside schools. The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, says they only have four confirmed cases of child recruitment this month in the town of Vavuniya and 11 last month.
Child Soldiers Released
A spokesman said they hoped these were isolated incidents by rebels who were not acting under direct orders from the leadership. But that is unlikely given the ceasefire monitors say recruitment is also under way in rebel-controlled territory itself where the Tigers have a tight grip on power.
After the recent revolt within rebel ranks in the east of the island the Tigers released or sent home more than 1,300 child soldiers.
It looks as if they may now be trying to replace them with recruits from the north of the island whom they hope will be more loyal to the predominantly northern leadership. But a new wave of child recruitment is not a good sign just as a new government in Sri Lanka is trying to re-start the peace process with the Tigers.