Thursday January 25, 2007
Based on interviews with escaped children and their parents, the HRW report builds on allegations made recently by Unicef.
The allegations are a severe embarrassment to the Sri Lankan government, which is struggling to find a response before the UN security council discusses the issue next month.
Up to 600 children have been seized in the Batticaloa district since June last year, the report says. The kidnappers are members of an armed Tamil faction which broke from the Tigers three years ago. Led by V Muralitharan, otherwise known as Colonel Karuna, who was once the Tigers' main commander in Sri Lanka's eastern districts, the group works closely with the Sri Lankan army.
Although the army denies this, the Karuna group's camps are near Sri Lankan military bases and its soldiers often wear government uniforms. Some 48 mothers submitted a list of names of abducted children to Sri Lanka's supreme court last summer.
There are claims the army pressed many of the mothers to change their evidence and say the kidnappers were "an unidentified armed group".
In other cases parents say the police refuse to register complaints of abductions.