Dullas compares Malala’s case with child victims here


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dullas Alahapepruma yesterday alleged that Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai (16) wouldn’t have been the darling of Western media if she had not been shot and wounded by Pakistan Taliban.

The Taliban targeted Yousafzai for campaigning for the right of girls to study in Pakistan. She survived an assassination attempt in Oct. last year.

Alahapperuma said that the entire world appreciated the Pakistani girl’s courage and determination in the face of threats emanating from a deadly enemy. He said that since surviving the Taliban attack, the teenager had got an opportunity to address the United Nations and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Minister Alahapperuma pointed out that Adele Balasingham, who had been responsible for promoting recruitment of girls to the ranks of the LTTE lived comfortably in the UK. Ironically, Yousafzai, too, lived in the UK as she feared to live permanently in Pakistan due to ongoing Taliban activity.

In spite of the LTTE agreeing to stop child recruitment in accordance with a much publicised agreement it had with the UN in May 1998, the despicable practice of using children as cannon fodder continued until the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, the minister said.

Alahapperuma alleged that those international powers, who had been involved in the Feb. 2002 Norwegian-led peace initiative, ignored the plight of children. In fact, peace facilitators declined to make it an issue as revealed before the Lessons Leant and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the minister said. The government never received the recognition it really deserved for putting an end to child recruitment and rehabilitating several hundred child combatants, the minister said.

Alahapepruma said that the LTTE went to the extent of having some prominent Tamil National Alliance (TNA) politicians at passing out parades of child combatants held at schools in the Northern and Eastern Provinces during the Norwegian arranged CFA. The international community turned a blind eye to what was happening even though the Norwegian-led Scandinavian truce monitoring mission received a spate of complaints regarding child abductions carried out by the LTTE, the minister said. Many lives could have been saved had the international community taken tangible measures against the LTTE before the outbreak of Eelam war IV in mid 2006, he said.

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