The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) on Tuesday forwarded a statement coming from the Women’s Action Network, expressing concern on the plight of Tamil women coerced into joining the SL military, The AHRC-forwarded statement for immediate release said that the Women’s Action Network (WAN), as a collective of 11 groups from the North and East, is deeply concerned by the recent efforts to recruit women into the SL military in the districts of Ki’linochchi and Mullaiththeevu. The statement details how the women were deceived and were taken by the SL military and thereafter intimidated not to leave.
SL Military personnel of Mullaiththeevu and Ki’linochchi area were involved in the recruitment process and have targeted economically vulnerable families. In some villages it has been announced through loudspeakers or they have gone in-person and in a few others they have used the GS of the area.
Those recruited have been informed that they would be engaging in clerical work, or with the GS, that work will only be for a few hours, and that they would be able to work in their own areas.
They have also been promised a pay of Rs.30,000 per month. Around 109 women applied and appeared for interviews. The information provided never mentioned that they will be working for the military and will have to join the military to perform these duties.
On the 5th of November 2012, the military took the women who registered their names for these jobs to the military camp in Bharathipuram in Killinochchi District.
The women underwent a medical exam conducted by male military doctor and a male-nurse. All information was gathered in Sinhala, except for their names and addresses.
The military informed the women and girls that they would be in 03-month residential program to learn Sinhala and English.
On November 15th, male military personnel picked up the women from their homes and transported them to the Bharathipuram camp.
The first day was spent collecting detailed personal information of the women. A military function for new recruits was held on the 16th, the second day.
It was only then that the women realized that they were to join the military.
Some panicked and called their families, and informed the military that they did not wish to join. The military informed them that they could only leave after the function.
At the function, a female military officer stood next to each new recruit thus preventing the women from communicating with their families.
Fathers of these women had been garlanded and the mothers were given badges with the title of ‘brave mother’.
As of 2nd December, mobile phones have been barred inside the camp.
The families were informed that the women have been provided with uniforms.
It is obvious that the women or the families were not provided with accurate information, and therefore not allowed to make an informed choice. Moreover these activities have violated the gazette notification procedures, which are required by law.
The WAN noted with concern the militarised environment, including military involvement in economic activities, administration and even reconciliation, and said that this is not conducive for human development further debilitates the already fragile existence of this community.
Even in the occasions of civil service appointments (Montessori teaching and working in government farms run by the military) training have been given to women through the involvement of the Civil Defence Department of the Sri Lankan military rather than the relevant civilian administration bodies, the Wan statement said.
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