Saturday, 3 July 2010

Leftovers From The War - Escaping the “child-catchers” of the LTTE

Amnesty International is calling on the UN to set up an independent investigation into possible war crimes committed in Sri Lanka in the final months of the civil war which ended in May 2009. Both sides, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government’s armed forces committed human rights violations. The families who suffered deserve justice and if you want to know why, read young Kamla’s account of how she escaped capture.

Child-catchers of the LTTE
The bullets and bombs were scary but what struck terror in Kamla’s heart were the “child-catchers” of the LTTE. For months, Kamla (nearly 15) and her 2 younger sisters managed to escape them by hiding in barrels buried underground in the backyard. The lid would be closed and soil sprinkled on top, with only a small tube fitted for breathing. However, during the final months of the war, shelling became so bad that the family were displaced 14 times and ended up in a hut without any of their possessions.

Caught in the cross-fire
One morning, when Kamla came out of the hut she found the place surrounded by more than 20 child-catchers. She ran in terror, ducking and hiding behind huts and somehow managed to escape. That night, her family decided they couldn’t continue like this anymore. Along with 150 other Tamils, they began moving towards the Sri Lankan army controlled areas, risking one final confrontation with the LTTE. “Tigers fired wildly. Parents fought against Tigers and some were dragged away,” recalls Kamla. But after a night of battle, the Sri Lankan army saved them and sent them to the Vavuniya camp.

A year after this escape, Kamla drew the picture above (she is in yellow, surrounded by “child-catchers” in black) to show what disturbed her the most. Help Kamla and her family discover the truth by calling for an independent investigation. Your signatures will be presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at a high level meeting in September during the UN General Assembly.
Please click on the link below to help Kamla.


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