SEVEN hundred and twelve former LTTE cadres, rehabilitated under the government’s rehabilitation programme, initiated by Ministry of Justice, were set free on Saturday (9) during a special ceremony that took place at Vavuniya.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chief guest on the occasion saw those rehabilitated former LTTE cadres from 14 rehabilitation centers re-unite and make their way home with parents, next of kin and spouses. 566 of them were youngsters (12-18 years) and the rest were above eighteen years of age.
Major General Daya Rathnayake, Commissioner Rehabilitation, during his welcome speech, extended sincere thanks to the President for his guidance and necessary assistance, rendered in the transformation process of these ex-LTTE member which paved the way for seven hundred and twelve ex-LTTE members to re-unite with their families and re-integrate with the society at large.
Representatives from the Hindu community and the business community, namely Mr K. Neelakandan and Mr Rajan Asirivathan respectively, pledged continuous support to the Bureau of Commissioner General Rehabilitation in their future efforts and spoke high of the level of involvement and the actions taken to correct the lives of children and youth who had been misled and misguided by the LTTE leadership through distortion of truth.
During the function held at the Menik Farm in Cheddikulam, Vavuniya, the President symbolically handed over fifteen of those rehabilitated ex-combatants to their guardians.
Suntharalingam Mohanashanthan, an ex-child combatant who joined his family after many years, during an emotional address, unfolded gloomy memories of how they were conscripted and forcibly trained by the LTTE, whilst brainwashing and infusing malicious attitudes against Security Forces and the Sinhala Community labeling them as killers of Tamils. In contrast, he recollected how the members of the Sri Lanka Army received them warmly and quenched their thirst and satisfied their hunger on the day they surrendered to the Security Forces. Mohanashanthan recalled and stressed the need to revitalize his lost expectation of becoming a teacher. He expressed his new hope for life which has now been restored, thanks to HE the President and the actions of the Security Forces.
Senior Presidential Advisor and Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa, Hon Minister of Justice and Law Reforms Milinda Moragoda, Hon Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare Douglas Devananda, Hon Minister of Re-settlement and Disaster Relief Services Rishard Bathiudeen, Governor of Northern Province Major General (ret) GA Chandrasiri and Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Major General Daya Ratnayake attended the occasion.
The government at the initial stage received 11,000 LTTE men who were willing to be rehabilitated after their arrest by Security Forces or surrender during the final stages of the War. Of them 8894 were males who had either served the LTTE organization as hardcore ones or otherwise. Among them 1420 LTTE cadres receiving rehabilitation are disable due to involvement in LTTE terrorist atrocities and missions. Of the total 11,000 LTTE cadres, 9334 were Hindus, 1655 Christians and three belonged to the Islamic faith. 6849 of the total under rehabilitation were bachelors while 4143 were allegedly married when they were conscripted or recruited by the LTTE for clandestine terrorist work.
Including 713 who completed rehabilitation and left today (9) for their homes, those former LTTE cadres continue to receive training in vocational, formal, spiritual and aesthetic education with the support received from the civil sector. Commissioner General for Rehabilitation Major General Daya Rathnayaka has been able to get the services of the civil sector for academic training in the rehabilitation centers.