Sri Lanka: December 6, 2002

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The LTTE rebels have agreed to demobilize their teenage fighters. Many of these kids (mostly boys, but some are girls) were conscripted and held in service by the threat of execution, or punishment of their family. The teenage troops have increasingly become an embarrassment. Since the cease fire, more reporters and foreign aid workers have been moving through rebel territory, and running into kids with guns who would rather be back home. Letting the kids go is an important move towards long term peace, since for the last few years, the teenage fighters were an important component of the rebel combat forces. Three decades of fighting had made it more difficult to recruit adults. And kidnapping kids for the rebel army was not very popular with civilians who normally supported the LTTE cause. Recently, perhaps as much as a third of rebel strength was teenagers. Foreign aid groups have also threatened to withhold aid for rebel held territory unless the kids were discharged.

December 5, 2002; The rebels have backed down on their demand for an autonomous Tamil state and agreed to a federal Sri Lanka, where each of the provinces would have the kind of autonomy found in the different states of the United States. However, the details still have to be worked out. Foreign diplomats are using a combination of promised foreign aid, and harsher crackdowns on "international terrorism" (most of the LTTEs financial support comes from Tamils outside of Sri Lanka, and this support can be blocked as "international terrorism.") 

 

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