Skip to content

Shifting the Narrative on the War on Terrorism due to Little Sri Lanka: Part 4 Child soldiers

June 14, 2011

Shifting the Narrative on the War on Terrorism due to Little Sri Lanka: Part 4 Child soldiers

Edited version of what was first published May 24th 2009 05:22


Essentially they are still children. That is the tragedy.

Child Soldiers: The Second Mistake that the LTTE Rebels Made

It should be noted that the leader of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) was around the age of 16 when he started his criminal activity, so his view of the proper age of a soldier could be skewed by personal experience. It is also worth noting that the LTTE recruited children often as young as 10 to fight on the front lines of the war. Trying to get around the head of someone who find this to be acceptable behaviour is beyond most people. Trying to understand how some people still see Prabhakaran as a great saviour is just as difficult. Prabhakaran even kept child soldiers close as guards and check points.

LTTE tribute to fallen soldiers includes pictures of child soldiers.


The LTTE recruited every single person that they could for their war including children barely big enough to lift the automatic weapons that they carried. They were also recruited for logistics and as shock troops to throw at the advancing Sri Lankan army. Several battles in the late nineties were dominated by wave after wave of child soldiers. In some cases hundred were killed. September/October, 1998, at Kilinochchi, it is estimated that over 500 child soldiers might were killed. In the massacres of villages that took place between the late eighties and early nineties child soldiers were sent to hack people to death.

In the last days of the Sri Lankan Civil War the practice of force child recruitment continued. Children were forcibly taken from families and sent to perform duties that few soldiers would be expected to carry out. With minimal training they were sent out to battlefield to retrieve weapons from fallen cadres. Or sent as scouts to find where the Army was advancing. One of the fiercest fighting units in the LTTE was the Leopard Brigade which made exclusively of child soldiers.

LTTE child soldiers

In their heyday the LTTE had a thorough training program for the child soldiers and taught them all the same skills as their adult equivalents. The indoctrination program was thorough and absolute where any free thought would be crushed. The training has been described by captured cadres as leaving absolutely no time to think or rest. If you were not training then you were being indoctrinated. At the end of the training period every graduating LTTE cadre is issued with their cyanide capsule and the children were no exception.


Part of the LTTE indoctrination included heroic child soldier stories


The recruitment of child soldier by the LTTE was one of the many reason that they gained a reputation as a ruthless terrorist organization. The practice has been well documented by Amnesty International, The Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and the UNHCR. In short term tactics it helped Prabhakaran replenish troops but as a long term strategy it also ruined their reputation.


A child soldier as part of an LTTE funeral parade

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: