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LTTE Female Black Tigers Face Social Hostility
By P K Balachandran
COLOMBO:In a startling revelation, the Sri Lankan Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Maj Gen Jagath Wijetilleke said that six to seven per cent of the 12,346 male and female cadre of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who had surrendered to the Sri Lankan armed forces at the end Eelam War IV in May 2009, were members of the dreaded suicide squad called the “Black Tigers”.
“But thanks to the Sri Lankan army’s comprehensive rehabilitation programme, none of the 12,077 rehabilitated cadre, including the Black Tigers, has indulged in any crime since release,” General Wijetilleke told Express.
Changing the mindset of the hardened “Black Tigers” had not been easy. “They were brainwashed to hate the Sinhalese and made to believe that sacrificing one’s life for the LTTE’s cause is a glorious act. The LTTE chose young boys and girls who had nothing to live for. They were uneducated, and were from deprived and vulnerable families. The LTTE would starve them and keep them in isolation for long periods to toughen them. They were also under strict surveillance by their handlers,” the General said.
But when the suicide cadre got an opportunity to choose between life and death, they chose to live! And today, the ex-combatants’ reject violence in toto.
With government aid, men cadre have found employment or are doing small businesses. But many of the 2,269 women cadre are subjected to social hostility, he points out.
The latest report of Gen Wijetilleke’s department says that female ex-combatants have lost the respect of the Tamil community and are vulnerable. Widows and disabled women, who are 25 per cent of the re-integrated cadre, are vulnerable. Hatred by the community towards them has created a stigma. And government officials add to the women’s problem by their indifference. “The only way out is to absorb them in government schemes,” Wijetilleke says.
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