Note: the names used are not the children’s real names.
My parents refused to give me to the LTTE so about 15 of them came to my house—it was both men and women, in uniforms, with rifles, and guns in holsters…. I was fast asleep when they came to get me at one in the morning.… These people dragged me out of the house. My father shouted at them, saying, “What is going on?”, but some of the LTTE soldiers took my father away towards the woods and beat him…. They also pushed my mother onto the ground when she tried to stop them.
—Rangini, a girl recruited by the LTTE in 2003 at age 16
I went to school to grade 5. I dropped out because my mother and father died. No one cared for me, I had no parents, so I was willing to join. I lived with my aunt after my parents died. I cooked for her family. I had frustration in my life, so I was willing to join the LTTE. I wanted to live in this world without anyone’s help. When I joined the LTTE, I went to the political office, and told the LTTE I wanted to join. They agreed. I told them I was sixteen, but they didn’t care.
—Vanmathi, a girl who joined the LTTE in 2003 at age 16
The training was very difficult. They don’t care if it’s a rainy or sunny day. If you get too tired and can’t continue, they will beat you. Once when I first joined, I was dizzy. I couldn’t continue and asked for a rest. They said, “This is the LTTE. You have to face problems. You can’t take a rest.” They hit me four or five times with their hands.
—Selvamani, a girl recruited in 2002 at age 15
After four months I was sent to a landmines unit. I learned to handle landmines, to place them. I did this for four months. I couldn’t concentrate. Sometime a landmine would explode and children would be injured. Their fingers, hands, face. One time we were working in a line, and the last girl made a mistake when removing a landmine. It exploded and she lost a finger. She was 17. I was scared to handle them.
—Vimala, a girl recruited in 2003 at age 17
Lots of people tried to escape. But if you get caught, they take you back and beat you. Some children die. If you do it twice, they shoot you. In my wing, if someone escaped, the whole group was lined up to watch them get beaten. I saw it happen, and know of cases from other groups. If the person dies, they don’t tell you, but we know it happens.
—Nirmala, a girl recruited in 2001 at age 14