Peace changes people's lives in North
With the restoration of peace the lives of the people have changed.
Those who lived in fear are free today. People look for jobs, education,
development and a better life.
Fulfilling these aspirations became a significant part in the
reconciliation process. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
made a number of suggestions to fulfill the demands of the rising
nation. Equal opportunities in employment is recommended in it and the
number of venues for employment started to increase with more Tamil
youth applying for jobs available in many fields.
The Sri Lanka Army continuing to serve the needs of the rising nation
decided, nearly two years ago, to recruit Tamil youth in to the Army.
Today, 46 Tamil youth are serving the Army with the previous two batches
of Tamil girls.
The Tri Services have been a place where a significant number of
officers and other ranks in the service, especially before the terrorist
threats of the LTTE emerged.
As terrorism got in to its height, the number of youth joining the
Sri Lankan Tri Services decreased.
As peace dawned and warmed the hearts of people with love and
compassion, society became more harmonious. In this peaceful atmosphere
many institutes, government and public resumed operation of abandoned
offices in the North.
More venues for jobs became available for Tamil youth. When the Sri
Lanka Army opened opportunities for Tamil youth to join them there was a
huge response from them despite obstructions from a few extremists.
The youth were keen on finding better venues to build a steady future
for their families based on their qualifications and suitability.
They have learnt the bitter lessons in life through the hard way
since their childhood. The Army in November last year enlisted its
biggest ever batch of 103 Tamil girls from Kilinochchi to the 6 SLAWC of
the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force during a landmark ceremony at 6 SLAWC
Headquarters at Bharathipuram, Kilinochchi.
Although the Army has a fair number of Tamils and Muslims serving the
organisation, it was the first time in its history a mass-scale
recruitment of Tamil girls of this magnitude, took place as a gesture of
goodwill and reconciliation.
Over 200 girls applied for recruitment, but the Army was able to
accommodate only 103 applicants after selecting the best in three rounds
The majority of the girls were from the Northern Province yet there
were a few from other parts of the country too. The initial batch was
from Kilinochchi and the second was from Mullaitivu.
There are more than 400 Tamil women recruited to the Army. The first
batch of men is from Mullaitivu.
They will be messengers of peace and harmony to the North and South.
“Recruitment, training and duties are all the same” said Army
Commander Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake.The Army has a set of
criteria to follow in recruitment and accordingly they invite all Sri
Lankan citizens to apply for the vacancies. These citizens need to be
fit to serve the country under any circumstances and guard the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country at any given time.
“Anyone joining the Army is trained to defend the country from enemy
forces. The Army has not restricted or limited selections based on
ethnic, religion or social strata. Whoever is fit for the job will be
recruited,” Lt. Gen. Ratnayake said.
What was the response from society?
“There was a positive response from the youth as well as their
parents,” said Security Forces Commander of Mullaitivu, Major General
Jagath Dias, commenting on the new recruitment conducted on the
instructions of the Army Commander.
“This move will encourage others to join the Army. The young men are
disciplined and cooperative. The recruit gets a good salary and it will
serve as a base for him to build a better future for him and his
family,” he said.
“These communities underwent a difficult period under the LTTE before
2009 and the enemy they saw was the terrorists. We had to specifically
guide the new recruits to understand that the enemy is any party which
poses a threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the
motherland,” Maj. Gen. Dias said.
We recruited youth from Mullaitivu to serve as soldiers in the fields
of construction, motor mechanics, electrical and agriculture. There was
a good response from youth in the area. We have encountered some
challenges because due to the LTTE rule before 2009 they were more
interested in increasing their cadre strength rather than creating
opportunities to secure the future of youth. Many of them did not have
their birth certificates and educational qualification certificates. The
youth have the required skills but they are unable to produce paper
qualifications. But with proper training today they have become
excellent craftsmen,” he added.
Their life as trainees will not be confined to camp. They were shown
the world that existed beyond boundaries. They were taken all around the
country to important places – a privilege they missed for a long time.
Language was not a barrier to understand the excitement and thrill of
joy they felt during the Colombo tour which was the first time to many
of these young men. Their first day in Colombo could have been chaotic
with journalists, cameras, interviews around in a different atmosphere.
Yet it was evident the newly recruits were slowly but steadily absorbing
the discipline of the Army and not losing their vibrant nature.
Many young men lead a hard life during the terror times. Soldier
Aleixis, 23, was ready to reveal the bitter truth.
“I lived in Kalalpadu village in Mullaitivu and the LTTE was using my
father as he was comparatively fluent in Sinhala. More than that LTTE
used him to transport weapons and ammunition. One day he did not return
home but the LTTE did not give a reason. We do not know what happened to
him,” he said.
As the eldest son he went to work for daily wages to feed his grief
struck mother, sisters and brother. He had been just eighteen. By then
due to LTTE threats his education was hampered but he did not want that
to happen to his siblings. He gave up his youth for them.
“Joining the Army is an opportunity that was only in my dreams.
Today, I believe dreams can come true,” the happy youth said.
Another youth, A. Madiyalagan, 21, had been working in a shop in
Vavuniya for hundred rupees a day. “I was living in Chettikulam with my
family. We experienced a difficult life then. My father was a daily wage
worker and it was not sufficient at all to feed the family,” said
His dream for a better education got hampered and all his efforts to
find a job with better pay were not fruitful. “With the job in the Army
I can serve my country in a more efficient way while creating a better
future for my family. I’m capable of taking care of my responsibilities
to my family,” he added. Their happiness revealed peace and harmony. The
training, language and computer classes, discipline and etiquette that
they were being taught has brought out the gentlemen hidden inside these
boys.Northern youth joining the Army is a positive sign that young blood
of the Tamil populace could start a new life in a peaceful world in
harmony with the brothers and sisters of all communities. This will
energise the future of the country.