Appendix II. Letter to TMVP
November 22, 2006
Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal
Dear Mr. Muralitharan,
I am writing with deep concern about reports of child abductions in Sri Lankas east. As you know, the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict has long been a practice of the LTTEand Human Rights Watch has repeatedly and forcefully condemned such serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Recently we have also found disturbing evidence of such practices by the forces under your command.
Ambassador Allan Rock, special advisor to the Special Representative to the Secretary General on Children in Armed Conflict, reported last week that members of the Karuna group have consistently abducted children in the east. According to UNICEF, the group has abducted more than 150 children in Batticaloa district alone since June 2006. Other abductions have taken place in the districts of Ampara and Trincomolee. Ambassador Rock further stated that the Sri Lankan security forces have been complicit in these abductions and, at times, have directly taken part.
Human Rights Watchs independent investigation of the issue confirms Ambassador Rocks findings. We conducted research in the eastern districts last month and collected incontrovertible information of the Karuna groups abductions, including complicity and occasional involvement by government forces. In some cases, the Sri Lankan military rounded up boys and young men and recorded their names, prior to Karuna cadre taking them away. Parents have repeatedly seen their abducted children held in Karuna camps around Welikanda. Other parents have seen their abducted children in the offices of the TMVP, which in Batticaloa and Ampara towns are guarded by the police.
Human Rights Watch will issue a report based on information collected during the trip. At the same time, we wish to hear your views, including any responses to the allegations above. In particular, do you have policies regarding the minimum age of recruitment into your forces, the use of force to secure new recruits, and the minimum age for participation in armed conflict? In addition, do you report to the authorities or otherwise punish members of your armed group who engage in abductions? If so, please provide information on disciplinary action taken, including specific cases. Finally, what steps are you taking to return abducted children to their families and to ensure that such abductions cease?
Thank you for your responses to the above, which we will take into consideration in the preparation of our report, if received by December 4. We also stand ready to engage in dialogue with you about these and other important human rights concerns. So long as armed conflict in Sri Lanka continues, we are dedicated to taking steps that will help reduce and minimize civilian harm.
Director Asia Division
Human Rights Watch