STF using Tamil children as human shields

[TamilNet, Monday, 10 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Vigneswara Vithiyalayam is a small school in the 13th colony near the Batticaloa- Ampara border. Children from poor farming families who study here have been forced by the Special Task Force which occupies part of the school to be its human shield.

Recently the Liberation Tigers fired mortar bombs in the direction of the 13th colony. The shelling, according to residents, had been aimed at an STF patrol in the area.

The principal of Vigneswara Vithiyalayam, Mr. S. Vasanthakumar, upon hearing the explosions, decided to take the children to a safer place fearing an imminent confrontation between the LTTE and the STF camped in the premises of the school.

The STF, however, stopped him from doing so despite his pleading.

The next day gunfire was heard in one part of the 13th colony. The STF, fearing an LTTE attack, left their bunkers in some of the school's builidings and sat among the children in the classrooms. The principal could not protest.

Mr. Vasanthakumar tried recently to register his protest against STF's inhuman attitude towards the children of his school by keeping away from work for a week.

He was, however, summoned by the Sri Lankan Police based in Mandur and was told to get back to the school.

This week the parents of the school met with the Deputy Director of Education, Mr. K. Kanapathippillai who is in charge of the area to complain about the mortal danger in which their children have to carry on with their studies.

They took up the matter again with the Batticaloa District Education Officer Mr. S. Manogaran.

The education officers told the parents that there is nothing they can do in the matter as they themselves are scared to take up such issues with the STF hierarchy in the southern parts of the Batticaloa district.

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