Tamil Catholic priests compel LTTE to return abducted orphans
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have released the sixteen Tamil orphans who were abducted on December 23rd by the tigers to be conscripted as “child” soldiers.
The tigers who refused to release the children in the age group of 11 – 14 despite entreaties by the Catholic church were finally compelled to release them because of strong protests by some bold and conscientious Tamil catholic priests.
Thirty Tamil catholic priests had planned to commence a “fast unto death protest fast in a Church from January 1st 2009.
Their demand was that the LTTE should return the abducted children immediately.
The LTTE already undr tremendous military pressure tried “soft” and “hard” talk to make the priests re- consider their decision.
The priests however remained determined .
Finally the LTTE fleeing Paranthan, relented and returned the sixteen children without any conditions.
Their objective achieved the priests called off the fast.
The Vicar – General of the Mannar diocese Rev.Fr. Victor Soosai has confirmed that the 16 children had been returned to the orphanage run by the church.
The shocking incident of abduction took place on the day of St. Stephen’s feast on December 23rd.
It happened at the Boys Home orphanage run by the Catholic Church at Tharmapuram in the Kilinochchi region.
Most of the children in the orphanage had gone out that day to visit relatives but some children remained.
Suddenly a group of tiger cadres had arrived and demanded that the children handed over to them as everyone was needed to fight for the Tamil homeland.
Rev. Fr. Arush Eric Rohan the orphanage director had refused and asked the LTTE to leave. The tiger leader had turned abusive and ordered his cadres to forcibly remove the children.
Panic – stricken orphan children had started running away screaming in fright. Some began hiding while others started howling and crying.
Though some managed to escape the LTTE succeeded in rounding up sixteen of the boys.
The cadres tied the hands and feet of the children and carried them like sacks and dumped them in a truck
Fr. Rohan and another priest tried to obstruct the LTTE but were thrashed and pushed to the ground
Fire-arms were also brandished.
After the shocking incident Catholic church leaders in the North made several entreaties to the LTTE that the abductees be released but the tigers refused
Finally a group of 30 Tamil catholic priests went to Puthukkudiyiruppu and pleaded with some tiger leaders but found no mercy.
As a last resort the 30 priests decided to commenve a hunger strike.
Finally the LTTE relented and released the 16.
The incident has created a massive amount of negative publicity for the LTTE