When do we see soldiers in action? During war of
course. Even a child knows that. But in Sri Lanka there
are grown-up people seeing child soldiers everywhere
although there has been no war for more than three years.
Is it an optical illusion or some kind of mental
disorder? How does one differentiate a child from a child
soldier ? How does one differentiate a child from an
adult? It all depends either on the fair-mindedness or
the inbuilt prejudices of the onlooker.
UNICEF, an organisation that has been long playing
anti-LTTE politics in Sri Lanka had according to a report
counted 3516 cases of child soldiers since the war
stopped in February 2002. One does not know how they did
the counting. Obviously by using a telescope and a
calculator. A drunken man soaked in liquor can sometimes
see a pink elephant. But other mortals, however hard they
try can never see a pink elephant. To the UNICEF man in
Colombo, to Kadirgamar, to the columnists of the Island
newspaper, neither of whom had ever set eyes on the
suffering orphan Tamil children in the Vanni taken care
by the LTTE and TRO, every child there must look like a
child soldier. Have they ever shown one ounce of concern
for the little children who lost their father or their
mother or lost both by indiscriminate bombing from the
air or shelling from land?
There was a fat, glossy magazine called " marie claire"
(April 2005) meant for idle affluent women mad about
clothes and fashions that had an article written by a
woman named Jane White. She went to the Vanni and she
says she saw child soldiers. Who were those child
One picture showed young girls taking karate lessons "at
a Tamil Tigers orphanage" Many white children in this
country go for karate lessons. That does not make them
child soldiers. There was another picture of a little
child, around three or four years old wearing the uniform
of a Tamil Tiger. Some proud parent had obviously felt
happy in seeing him in such a dress. In Britain, any
child of three and four can buy in a toy shop the uniform
of a policeman, helmet, walkie-talkie etc. That doesn't
make him a policeman.
Another picture shows small children with the caption
that says "An armed soldier stands guard over children at
a temporary relief camp". Only the soldier's legs and
boots are shown , but no mention of the fact that he is a
Sri Lankan soldier. The writer asks a little child in his
innocence to pose for a picture covering his face with
fresh flowers, and the caption says "fresh flowers are
used to protect the identity of former child soldiers"
Wasn't that a piece of diabolical journalism? So what was
the motive of that stupid woman carrying such pictures to
prove the existence of child soldiers? There was only one
motive: to demonise the Tamil Tigers in the eyes of the
The very headline of the article is loaded for a purpose.
It says "From tsunami orphans to SUICIDE BOMBERS" . Even
photos of innocent-looking, suffering children are given
mischievous captions. It is obvious that the woman called
Jane White (if that is her real name) was sent there by
the UNICEF man in Colombo to look after his own agenda.
It is a pity that when she was herself a small child Jane
White's parents never taught her - Tell No Lies.
There is no point in writing to the magazine protesting
the publication of such mischievous rubbish because the
editor of the magazine will never publish it. Her duty is
to stand by her contributor, not, repeat NOT, TO STAND BY
THE TRUTH. We had a look at the magazine's so-called
Letters Page. There were just five letters from readers,
none of which was of any consequence.
There is no point in the LTTE trying to offer
explanations to such people whose sole agenda is to pull
out this allegation of child soldiers like a magician
pulling out rabbit from inside a top hat. These are
people who cannot bear the sight of the LTTE earning
recognition and prestige in the eyes of the international
Denials won't help
Denials and explanations are not going to change the
mind-set of these detractors. The only way to shut them
up is to get about five hundred children of the ages of
three and four, dress them up in the uniforms of Tamil
Tigers, and parade them in web sites and newspapers with
the bold caption - LTTE's child soldiers. Send copies of
those photographs to the UNICEF office in Colombo and to
the Island newspaper requesting publication. If the
Island does not publish it, the editor will at least get
the message. If he publishes it, he will look foolish in
the eyes of the world.