Muslim youths urged to join
[TamilNet, Friday, 23 October 1998, 17:33 GMT]
A letter from the Sri Lankan Police strongly urging Muslim youth to join the Home Guards was read out at Mosques in Valaichenai and Ottamaavadi after the Jummah prayers this afternoon. According to the letter, any Muslim youth who had attended school upto grade five is eligible to become a Home Guard.
Informed sources in Ottamavadi, 36 kilometers north of Batticaloa, said today that the government is actually aiming at expanding the lower ranks of its Police force in time to come by recruitng Home Guards.
The Police is hard pressed for man power to ease the pressure on the Sri Lankan army which is being increasingly spread thin on the ground in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.
The Police absorbed all the Muslim Home Guards into its ranks two years ago.
The Liberation Tigers in Batticaloa informed the Muslim community through local mosques in March-April last year that they will deal with the Home Guards as part of the Sri Lankan security forces regardless of the race or religion of the members of the paramiltary force.
Several Muslim Home Guards were shot dead allegedly by the Tigers in Ottamavadi last year in the wake of this warning.
A trustee board member of the Ottamaavadi mosque said this afternoon that very few youth in this thriving Muslim town might respond to the Police's call because the community wants to avoid any serious friction with the Liberation Tigers and the Tamils in the future.
The Home Guards are a paramilitary force deployed by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence (MoD) in Muslim areas and Sinhala border villages in the northern and eastern parts of the island.
They are trained by the army and the military trained Police.
Sinhala Home Guards supplement the Sri Lankan army wherever it is deployed thinly on the ground.
They were also raised to assist the army in state sponsored illegal Sinhala settlements in the eastern province.
Muslim Home Guards were involved in the massacres of hundreds of Tamil civilians in the eastern province in 1990.
The Human Rights Task Force (HRTF), appointed by the Sri Lankan government under international pressure to investigate massacres and widespread human rights abuses under the SLA between 1990-93, established that the Muslim Home Guards tortured and killed hundreds of Tamil civilians in Valaichenai, Vanthaaroomoolai, Saththurukkondaan in the Batticaloa distrcit and Pandirippu, Kalmunai, Akkaraipattu and Pottuvil in the Ampara district.
Not one was brought to book, according to human rights actvists in the eastern province, despite the findings of the HRTF about the Mulsim Home Guards.
15.10.98 Retired police to war front