Lucien Stopler & Georg Frerks discuss the plight of the Tamil ex-child soldiers in Sri Lanka, an unresolved heritage of a bloody war. In the wake of the defeat of the LTTE, the Sri Lankan government has not shown much effort in addressing the root causes of the conflict and in building peace. It has also largely ignored the re-integration of ex-child soldiers in society. In the period between 2002 till the end of 2007 there were over 6,200 reported cases of child recruitment in the LTTE and the government-supported Karuna group. Ex-child soldiers experienced 24extreme fear and many were forced to kill or torture the enemy. In the process violence became legitimised and normalised, and child soldiers became an exponent and instrument of a war-torn and militarised society. At present many of them are under heavy stress, absent, depressed or mentally broken. They show a high incidence of PTSD, domestic violence and drug abuse. Many ex-child soldiers consider suicide. By consequence, ex-child soldiers should not be criminalised or locked up as terrorists, as the government seems to be doing now. Instead they should be helped with appropriate therapies and get schooled in order to obtain employment. All this should be part of a wider post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction programme that Sri Lanka needs dearly at present.
|Publication status||Published - 2010|