September 3, 2009 (AFP) – A group of former child soldiers from Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels have won jobs on construction sites in Malaysia after undergoing re-training, the government here said Thursday. The seven men were among hundreds of former child soldiers who surrendered in the months before government troops finally defeated the Tigers in May at the end of decades of ethnic warfare.
Now aged between 19 and 21, the seven joined the Tigers’ ranks as children and fought with the rebels in their unsuccessful and bloody campaign for an independent Tamil state.
Some former fighters are not charged over their involvement with the rebels and instead undergo one-year vocational training in plumbing, masonry, carpentry and electrical work at state-run welfare centres.
The government, which has often been accused of mistreating the large Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, says it helps the child soldiers secure jobs overseas or return to their villages in the north and east of the island.
“This is the first batch of former child soldiers for whom we have been able to find jobs in Malaysia,” Cyril Jayawardene, a senior executive of the government’s rehabilitation bureau, said.
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