LTTE Rehabilitation Programme Turns Political
By Dinouk Colombage
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) charged the rehabilitation programme involving former LTTE cadres is being used for political gain.
TNA MP Suresh Premachandran accused the government of providing the former combatants with questionnaires focusing on their political allegiances.
“They have provided these people with questionnaires that focus on which political party they will support,” he said.
While admitting to not having a questionnaire on hand, Premachandran did say that several former combatants had raised this issue with him.
“The government is simply using this programme to make sure they have the support of the former combatants,” he added.
Meanwhile the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Brigadier Dharshana Hettiarachchi denied that such questionnaires existed.
“We only provide the former combatants with a feedback form asking them if they found the course useful. This is not in place to discover their political beliefs, we are only interested in rehabilitating them back in to society,” he said.
Premachandran meanwhile said that the rehabilitation program is not genuine and lacks a proper road map.
“They are giving them bits of vocational training, but there are no proper plans in place to ensure these people are helped after they pass through the rehabilitation programme,” he said.
Premachandran added that “the rehabilitation project is a show put on by the government to impress the international community and continue receiving loans.” He said that if the government was genuine about rehabilitation they make an extra effort with former LTTE cadres.
Brigadier Hettiarachchi agree to an extent with the comments made by Premachandran. “While it may be difficult for these former LTTE cadres to find jobs after they are rehabilitated, this is not the fault of the government. In general people are finding it difficult to find jobs,” he said.
He denied, however, that the government did not have a road map in place regarding the rehabilitation of the former combatants. “We have successfully rehabilitated 11,000 personnel, this is a very successful turnover when you think the LTTE was the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world,” he said.
Hettiarachchi went on to say that there were numerous plans in place by the government to ensure they become self-sufficient. “The government is going to provide these former LTTE combatants with a Rs.250,000/- loan, which is to be paid back at an interest rate of 4%, to help them start up their own businesses with the skills they are taught during the rehabilitation.
He also said that the government and the foreign employment bureau was exploring the possibility of sending these former cadres overseas, especially to the Middle East, to work.
However, Premachandran accused the CID and the security forces of continually harassing the former combatants. “They follow them on motorbikes and question them, sometimes they even assault them. How can they be rehabilitated if this keeps happening,” he said.
Police spokesman SP Ajith Rohana denied this accusation. “If they have not made an official complaint then we cannot investigate this matter, but we deny that such incidents involving members of the CID have taken place,” he said.