Sri Lanka frees 1,800 ex-Tamil Tigers

September 30, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka wrapped up its two-year rehabilitation of surrendered Tamil Tiger rebels with the re-uniting Friday of 1,800 men and women with their families. President Mahinda Rajapakse addressed the last of the 12,000 former members of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to pass through the programme at his tightly-guarded Temple Trees residence in Colombo.

“As you rejoin society today after two years of vocational training, you go out as free men and women,” the president said. “But there will be anti-social elements who will prey on you.

“But I hope you will work for peace and ethnic harmony in this nation of ours. We must not dwell on the bitter past, but look to a prosperous future,” he said amid applause from the ex-Tiger cadres dressed in jeans and T-shirts.

The programme was run by the Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms for former rebels who surrendered to security forces at the end of the island’s separatist war in 2009.

The men and women have been given training in masonry, plumbing, carpentry and business among others. Some were also trained as psychologists and computer programmers. Poobalasingham Sridasan, 33,