December 15, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels, losing territory in a major military offensive, have stepped up forced conscription of soldiers, including children, a rights group said on Monday.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has also tightened restrictions on civilians trying to flee the fighting in northern Sri Lanka, it said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Tigers were “brutally abusing the Tamil population in areas under their control” and the plight of ordinary people had become worse as fighting escalated.
“The LTTE claims to be fighting for the Tamil people, but it is responsible for much of the suffering of civilians in the (northern region of) Wanni,” said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
The report came as government forces moved to dismantle the LTTE’s grip in the island’s north and capture the rebels’ political capital of Kilinochchi.
“As the LTTE loses ground to advancing government forces, their treatment of the very people they say they are fighting for is getting worse,” Adams said.