Tamil children raped

[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 September 1997, 05:18 GMT]
A six year old Tamil girl was reported to have been raped by several Sri Lankan soldiers in Jaffna. The child is said to have been seriously injured during the assault. This is the latest in a number of attacks on children that have been carried out by Sinhalese troops operating in Tamil areas, and fears are growing of a paedophile network within the Sri Lankan military.

Sri Lankan troops manning a checkpoint in Jaffna snatched the youngster on her way to school. Several soldiers are said to have raped her within the checkpoint bunker, inflicting serious injuries. The girl has been admitted to Jaffna general hospital.

Travelers from Jaffna who reached Vavuniya recently say that another child, a 10-year old girl was said to have been raped by Sri Lankan soldiers in Atchuvely a few weeks ago.

Attacks on Tamil children are not a new phenomenon. On 12 November 1996, 10 year old Thenuka Selvarajah was abducted, also whilst on her way to school, by Sri Lankan troops from the Puttur army camp. Several soldiers took turns raping her. The traumatised child was then released into the street.

The principal of her school took the child to the nearest major SLA camp, located ironically at Atchuveley. The pair were ejected from the premises by Sinhalese soldiers who refused to record the principal's complaint and reportedly sneered at his protests.

Several Tamil children have disappeared in areas controlled by the Sri Lankan military. Last year, several bodies of children in sacks floated onto the island's beaches. Many corpses were dressed in Jaffna school uniforms.

Similar attacks on children have been reported from parts of Batticaloa which are under Sri Lankan army control.

Human rights organisations have reported hundreds of rapes of Tamil women and girls by Sinhalese soldiers in the past few years, and the numbers are said to be rising.

Most of the attacks occur in the north and east of the island, areas from which the Sri Lankan government has banned the international press from entering.

However, the singling out of young children for attack has led to local fears of a paedophile network operating within the Sri Lankan military.

Despite protests by several human rights groups, victims and even parliamentarians over the widespread abuse of women and girls, the Sri Lankan government has chosen to ignore the issue altogether.

Some counter insurgency analysts say that the government's silence is tacit approval of the Sri Lankan military's use of terror to force the Tamil populace into accepting Colombo's rule.

"It's a means of hitting the guerrillas' psyche" said one. "Attacks on civilians, particularly on womenfolk and children would send a message to the fighters in the bush that their families will pay a terrible price for continued attacks [on Sri Lankan troops]".

This government-guaranteed impunity has seems to have emboldened the Sri Lankan military which arguably has one of the worst human rights records in the world.

It is in such a climate of unaccountability and acceptance of excess that the assaults on Tamil children seem to be emerging.

As the Sri Lankan military has escalated its campaign to induce war-weariness in the Tamil populace, atrocities have become legitimised as military strategy. However, the rapes of small children is a clear indication that the strategy is now out of control: most observers are doubtful that the terror campaign can be easily turned off.


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