The Rehabilitation of some Tigers and economic developmentnt

Camelia Nathaniel reporting from Kilinochchi in The Sunday Leader, 18 February 2013

camelia picsThe Civil Security Department (CSD) has recently recruited 3,500 former LTTE cadres despite requests by the TNA that rehabilitated cadres should be given a chance to lead normal lives as civilians and not be recruited into any military or paramilitary organizations.
While in the LTTE they had caused so much destruction to this country, but today having realized their mistake they have joined hands with the Civil Security Department (CSD) to rebuild the nation, said Ramalingam Kumar an ex-LTTE cadre who had joined the CSD after undergoing the government’s rehabilitation programme.

Having been attached to the intelligence wing of the LTTE, Ramalingam had served the terrorist organization for around 15 years prior to surrendering to the security forces subsequent to the end of the war.

Ramalingam made these comments to The Sunday Leader reporter in Kilinochchi during a ceremony organized by the CSD.
“I was released from detention on 12 June 2012 under a presidential pardon. However after been released and returning to my village, no one was willing to give me a job. I then decided to go to Colombo in search of work, but prior to that I met with MP Namal Rajapaksa at his political office in Kilinochchi and told him of my plight and the plight of many ex-LTTE cadres who face this same dilemma. He assured me that our grievances will be looked into and arrangements would be made to recruit us to the CSD,” said Ramalingam.

It was in keeping with this pledge that the CSD recently recruited around 3,500 rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres and other Tamil persons into their organization. However according to Ramalingam the Tamil National Alliance has been pressurizing them against joining the CSD, claiming that they will be left stranded and without jobs in three months, and that they would be harassed by the army. “However I am proud to say that it’s been over three months now since we joined the CSD and our jobs are very well secured and we have even received a salary increment that was approved by the budget. Hence I want to tell all those who had negative advice for us with regard to joining the CSD, to please stop spreading false fear among the Tamil people and assist in the reconciliation program and help rebuild this country,” he said.

He also said that many Tamil people who had been influenced by the TNA against joining the CSD are today flocking at the gates of the project offices of the CSD seeking employment. “We were earlier promised a salary of around Rs. 18,000, but today our salaries have been increased to almost Rs. 20,000. One of the other greatest privileges granted to us is that the Director General of the CSD is like a father to us and frequently visits our agricultural project sites in order to address our grievances and provide solutions. He advises us against doing anything wrong and guides us on the right path. This makes it harder for those who are trying very hard to destabilise the effort taken by the current government to unite and develop the country,” he said.

According to Colonel W.W. Ratnapriya, the joint commanding officer operations for Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, the agricultural projects in the district for the newly recruited rehabilitated ex-cadres and Tamil civilians commenced about four months ago. “During that period we have successfully cultivated crops on around 700 acres of land in the Kilinochchi area under 11 agricultural projects. Among the crops cultivated are maize, paddy, peanuts and green chillies. In addition we have also introduced projects such as brick making and handicrafts as well as promoted subsidiary crops such as coconuts,” he said.

The employees are able to report for duty from their homes, as work on these agricultural projects commence at 8.30 a.m. and conclude for the day around 5 p.m.
“Many of the farming staff are women and these flexible working hours makes it easier for them to manage their homes and their children as well as contribute to the family’s income as well. Furthermore, we have also received Cabinet approval in order to provide these employees permanent employment. This will be implemented expeditiously in the near future and it will also entitle them to a pension after retirement” he said.

Col. Ratnapriya said that initially he had received personal telephone messages challenging them to recruit at least 100 Tamils into the CSD. “I am glad to tell all those who challenged us then that not just 100, but we have recruited 3,500 Tamils successfully and there will be many more who want to join our organisation, having witnessed the progress of those who have already joined,” he said.

Meanwhile Sathyalochini, a 37-year-old mother of four children said that she had been looking for work in order to supplement her family income. “My husband is a labourer and educating my four children aged 14, 13, 10 and four years as well as providing them food and clothing was a sheer impossibility and we have suffered severe hardships. However having heard that the CSD was recruiting people I too decided to apply for the job and was very glad when I received it, but I was also a bit skeptical at the start. However now that I have been drawing a steady income from the day I joined the CSD it has really helped uplift the living standards of my family,” she said.

She had joined the CSD on 10 October last year and having served in the organisation for the past four months she had also received a salary increment from last month.

The Director General of the CSD Rear Admiral Ananda Peiris who visited the Ambal Nagar agricultural project in Kilinochchi last Wednesday morning told the CSD employees at the farm that they will be able to obtain bank loans in order to purchase motor cycles, which will no doubt be an asset for them. Addressing the gathering he said, “All of you have faced many hardships during the war and also lost many loved ones. However today we are here to assist you all in rebuilding your lives, while rebuilding the country as well. If any of you have any grievance that your officers in charge are unable to resolve, please do not hesitate to bring it to my notice and I will certainly do everything in my power to resolve your issues and provide you with solutions,” he said.

Purusoththaman who was rehabilitated at the Hindu Collage in Ratmalana said that he had been released on 25 May 2010. Being the youngest in a family of four he had been forcibly recruited by the LTTE in March 2009 and had surrendered to the security forces in Vattuvan in Mullaitivu after the end of the war in May. He had also lost one of his older brothers during the war. “I never thought that I will be able to live a normal life in peace with my family. However I am very happy today that there is peace in the country and that I am able to enjoy the benefits of this freedom that I had never known before. For people in this area it is very difficult to find work that will pay this kind of salary and earning around Rs, 20,000 is a very good deal that definitely helps my family a greatly,” he said with contentment.

However according to TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran these rehabilitated cadres should be given a chance to lead normal lives as civilians and not be recruited into any military or paramilitary organization. They should also not be used to do the bidding of the government for its own politics. I am not certain about what the Civil Defence Force does, but it does not seem to be the kind of thing that a rehabilitated person should be channeled to, and it is inappropriate. They should be trained in some vocation during rehabilitation and given assistance to start up some enterprise on their own and carry on their lives as civilians.

When asked as to why his party opposes the recruitment of these rehabilitated cadres into the CSD, he said that although there have not been any direct complaints from the recruited personnel themselves, there have been lots of murmurs that his party had heard. “But that is not really the issue. The main issue here is that they are in an inappropriate vocation. We have heard various complaints but nothing directly though,” he said.

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