Priyantha Hewage, in The Sunday Times, 12 March 2012, reporting from Omanthai
A group of Tamil youths of Sri Lankan origin living in Europe found themselves in a quandary when ex-LTTE cadres being rehabilitated at a Vavuniya centre spoke to them in Tamil. Inmates said the visitors spoke to them in English and they spoke to them in Tamil and the military officials manning the centre had to act as interpreters. They said they were disappointed because the children of the Tamils who left the country during the early days of the war were unable to speak their mother tongue. “Although they have come to help us we are sad that they could not speak the Tamil language, the very identity of the Tamil people,” B. Senduran, an inmate at the centre said.
He said that among the visitors were young doctors who were born in Jaffna. But they found it difficult to say in Tamil that they were from Jaffna. The group led by British Conservative Party parliamentarian James Stephen Wharton visited Kilinochchi and Vavuniya to look into the welfare of the inmates in rehabilitation centres.
The group also included an Irish parliamentarian. They visited the Punthottam Rehabilitation centre where they were welcomed by Vavuniya Rehabilitation Coordinating Officer Lt. Colonel Manjula Gunasinghe. The group attended a workshop where the inmates were trained for jobs in the Middle East. After the workshop, they mingled with the inmates but language became a problem. The military officials who were conversant in Tamil and English had to act as interpreters.
The ex-LTTE members told the visitors about their life under the LTTE and their aspirations. They said they wanted good jobs after the rehabilitation. Lt. Colonel Gunasinghe said the visitors freely spoke to and mingled with the inmates. He said the group was satisfied with the rehabilitation process.
“Rehabilitated Tiger cadres tour Kandy” – in Island 12 March 2012, by Cyril Wimalasurendre
KANDY – A group of 371 rehabilitated LTTE cadres visited Kandy yesterday (12) under the patronage of the Rehabilitation Commissioner’s Department. The 371 former LTTE combatants including 86 disabled and 67 women visited the Sri Dalada Maligawa and the Senkadagala Buddhist Centre where their artistic creations were on display. The Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres handed over a memorandum to Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne stating that they were pleased with the government’s initiative to rehabilitate them. The memorandum also stated that they were willing to become partners in the development programmes launched by the government headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne opened the art exhibition of the rehabilitated LTTE cadres at the Buddhist Centre. The former LTTEers were taken to the Sri Dalada Maligawa in a procession along Dalada Veediya. The group spent the day visiting several places of importance in the Hill Capital before leaving Kandy later in the day. Minister Chandrasiri Gajadheera, Deputy Environment Minister Abdul Cader and Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake were also present.
******* “Army treated us kindly – ex-LTTE cadres,” in Daily News, 14 March 2012
“We should all go forward as a country discarding communal, petty differences.
Certain people living abroad are jealous about our freedom and peace. It was the LTTE terrorists rather than the government Security Forces who severely harassed us.”
The Sri Lankan soldiers treated us well. We never believe the human rights violation allegations made against the Armed Forces by international forces, said a group of rehabilitated LTTE cadres in Kandy on Monday. The former LTTE cadres said that people should set aside communal differences and rally round to safeguard the hard won freedom.
They expressed these sentiments when they visited the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic during a peace tour of Kandy organised on a concept of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister Chandrasiri Gajadheera.
A batch of 384 rehabilitated former LTTE cadres joined the tour. The group’s leader Thangavel Kokilan said: “I served the LTTE for two and a half years after being forcibly recruited during my school days. I joined many LTTE battles against Sri Lankan Forces. The LTTE had brainwashed us and inculcated hate in our minds. After associating with the Sinhala people, we found that what the LTTE told us is not true.”
Kokilan said: “We deserted the LTTE ranks and crossed over to the Army battle lines during the last stages of the war and the Sri Lankan soldiers welcomed and treated us well. We also understand that the President is regularly looking into our progress and welfare. The LTTE and the Sri Lanka Armed Forces are poles apart in the context of humanism and humanitarian values. We have now got an opportunity to discard guns and work for the country’s development and welfare. We should all go forward as a country discarding communal and other petty differences.”
“Dissension will spell doom for the hard won liberty and freedom. It is our duty to protect the freedom gained for us by the President.” rehabilitated woman cadre Mahendra Subashini. She said she is married and her husband died during the war. “I was recruited to the LTTE by force. Today, we are enjoying full freedom. Certain people living abroad are jealous about our freedom and peace. That is why they are engaged in false propaganda against our country,” she said.