Socialisation of suicide cadres

Painstaking mission of rehabilitation of former combatants.

They were trained to kill torture commit suicide and die for nothing. Through suicide missions, the LTTE assassinated many local and foreign personalities including a head of state and a former prime minister. The death and carnage they caused is immeasurable.

But four years on after the dawn of peace, devoid of revenge, we are a one family in a united peaceful country today.

Rehabilitation of former LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) cadres, releasing and rejoining of them into the Sri Lankan community was one of the most demanding and dedicated operations shouldered by the Sri Lankan government with the conclusion of the ruthless three decade long terrorist war. The utmost commitment of Security Forces with the association of government, private and nongovernmental organizations made this huge task possible. The support extended by the Sri Lankan Diaspora abroad in various means for this complex process is also commendable.

Since the conclusion of the battle, combatants including trained suicide bombers have been rehabilitated and released into their communities as part of Government's programmes to restore normalcy, which the lives of the people who would otherwise have been sacrificed as human cannon fodder. Thousands of innocent Tamil youth were brainwashed and indoctrinated into hating all Sinhalese by the cruel Tiger leadership.

At the final stage of the Humanitarian Operation more than 12197 LTTE cadres had surrendered to the government forces and 1407 of them were transferred under court orders subsequent to the judicial proceedings.

Since then inmates were trained at 24 state operated 'Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centres' (PARC) under the purview of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation. Only 3 PARC's are in operation as the process is nearing completion. There are 126 rehabilitees at the Poonthottam centre, 112 at Welikanda, Senapura centre and 107 at Kandakadu East centre.

The entire process of rehabilitation comprises of the following features.

 

a. Emotional intelligence

b. Spiritual development

c. Counselling

d. Aesthetic and drama therapy

e. Vocational training

f. Sports, physiological/ creative therapy

g. Social cultural and family component

h. Community awareness programmes

The Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation has successfully rehabilitated and released 2174 disabled personnel to-date and another 184 remaining in the centre will be released in due course. In this process a total number of 11624 personnel have been reintegrated into the society and 2032 of them were females. Officials took utmost care and attention in the case of child soldiers and a total of 594 have rejoined their families.

Along with the dynamic sustainable development process taking place in the education sector in the war affected regions, rehabilitees enjoy the access and the facility to higher education. According to the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, 300 students have appeared for the GCE O/L examination in the past three years and out of them 114 have obtained the eligibility to follow Advanced Level education. Over 174 rehabilitees have been selected for Universities since 2010.

During the process of rehabilitation it is imperative to equip them with a sound vocational training which would enhance their skills enabling them to engage in employment or start small and medium scale businesses.

Workshops for minors are as follows

 

a. Formal education programmes

b. Vocational training programmes

c. Aesthetic/ Drama therapy programmes

d. Spiritual development programmes

e. Counselling and positive attitude cultivation programmes

f. Sports activities including sports-meets

g. New year festival programmes

h. Guiding and scouting

i. Educational visits

j. "Handamama" Child radio programme

Electrical, carpentry, masonry, welding, aluminium fabrication, three wheeler repair, beauty culture, leather work, tailoring, computing, English language learning, aesthetic (music) and accelerate skills acquisition programmes are among the vocational training courses and workshops conducted for minors during the rehabilitation process. Currently Sinhala and English language training and carpentry courses are conducted at Poonthottam rehabilitation centre. Meanwhile, masonry plumbing and electrical house wiring training are conducted at Kandakadu rehabilitation centre.

In this huge task of conducting vocational training, government ministries, institutions organizations including private sector organizations extend their support in providing knowledge in their areas of expertise.

 

Former Child Combatants

The total number of ex-child combatants surrendered for rehabilitation was 594 and they were rehabilitated at the Ambepussa for formal education and vocational training in the initial stage. Subsequently they transferred to Poonathottam for vocational training and finally sent to Hindu College for further education.

All the child combatants were channelled through magistrate courts for rehabilitation. Rehabilitation of an ex-child combatant is a different process and dissimilar to the rehabilitation process of an adult.

The core curriculum and the pattern of child rehabilitation

a. Segregation according to the gender before accommodation.
b. Profiling them.
c. Providing of facilities to undergo formal education and vocational education as per their choice.
d. Children opting to continue formal education were first brought to the renowned Hindu College in Rathmalana, Colombo.
e. Children opting to undergo vocational training were provided with facilities at Poonathottam PARC in Vavunia.
f. Establishment of link between Children and Parents with the support of UNICEF.
g. Channel through specially designed curricular and extracurricular programmes for children with the consultation of professionals in the field.
h. Healing and treatment of children only as victims, but not as suspects or offenders.
i. Creation of secured environment allowing them to enjoy their rights and freedom.
j. Ultimately children were channelled to rejoin their families and are ensured of getting the school of their choice.

Rehabilitation of Killers

The key challenge was rehabilitation of LTTE cadres those who had been purposely trained for brutal killings. The leadership of the LTTE had transformed their normal mentality into a disturbed mindset enabling them to kill themselves together with their intended target. In such situation it is imperative to reset and alter their mentality back to normalcy, slowly but surely. Religious observances, spiritual engagements, counselling and meditation topped the list of methods adopted. It was done smoothly by an exclusively trained unique team of officials taking adequate period of time.

Government's commitment and feedback

Turning a new page in the annals of post war Sri Lankan history, on 13th June 2010, fifty three couples entered wedlock at a ceremony replete with Hindu traditions. They were awarded bank accounts with a deposit of five thousand rupees and all arrangements for the wedding ceremony including the clothes were borne by the government. The newly wedded families were resettled at the Peace Village and provided with support livelihood according to their vocational expertise. Reintegration within the families has been shaped automatically based on diversity of vocations and social necessities making them interdependent.

To pursue line of studies and appraise into the socialised rehabilitees, Rehabilitation Commissioner General has formed a panel of experts to re-examine each person. Government has allocated Rs. 300 million annually for their betterment allowing entrepreneurs to apply for loans (max Rs. 250000 per person) on concessionary interest rates accordingly. In addition, foreign employment opportunities have been created in association with the foreign employment agencies and also three wheelers will be provided for required families on the basis of hire purchase. Garment factories have also been absorbed qualified rehabilitees into their organizations providing them better social recognition. Meanwhile, government, semi-government and private sector career opportunities have also been created for them.

Those who were shedding crocodile tears for the ex-LTTE combatants hadn't supported the rehabilitation project to-date except few foreign governments and INGOs.

 

     

 

Source: Ministry of Defence and Urban Development


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