by Camelia Nathaniel
The government has directed the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to halt the issuance of accreditation cards to ex-LTTE cadres, who have completed the government rehabilitation programme. Accordingly, the IOM has decided to suspend the ID issuing process.
Under the instructions of the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (OCDS), the military is in the process of collecting the already issued IDs from the rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres.
However, the decision has caused doubts among rehabilitants, and they question the rationale behind the government’s move.
All former LTTE cadres, who completed the government rehabilitation programme, have been issued with an identity card by the IOM, to facilitate the rehabilitants’ day-to-day activities around the country.
Military Spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya speaking to Ceylon Today said, the motive behind this decision was to prevent any discrimination intended towards rehabilitants from any part of the society and to prevent them from being branded.
“The government considers these rehabilitants as part of the society, and they are not treated in any way as a separate group. We want them to feel as part of the society too and do not want them to carry the baggage of the past. This is part if the proper integration programme,” he said.
Ceylon Today also spoke to IOM Chief of Mission, Richard Danziger regarding the decision to stop the issuing of IDs to the rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres.
“Most of the clients that I have spoken to have said these ID cards we provide give them additional sense of protection. On the other hand, I fully understand the government’s point of view, as the whole point in the reintegration programme is to enable these rehabilitants to live in society as normal citizens. However, I must also add that some clients have said that the ID cards in fact work against them, as when they produce these identity cards at various places they are branded and looked upon as former LTTE cadres, so it does cut both ways. However, I think what would be useful at this stage is if the message goes out explaining the reason why these cards are being taken away, as I think it would make people feel better,” he said.
Paramasivam Anthony Newton, a former cadre who had undergone the government rehabilitation programme, regretted the government’s decision to discontinue the issuance of ID cards to the rehabilitated combatants upon completion of the rehabilitation programme.
“We have actually requested the IOM to continue with the issuance of the accreditation cards, as it is very helpful to us. We find that having the ID actually helps in differentiating us from the Ex-combatants, who are evading surrender to the government forces and those undergoing the rehabilitation programme. Even when travelling from Colombo to Jaffna, there are checkpoints at Omanthai and Medawachchiya. When we are checked at the checkpoints, if we have the identities to prove that we have undergone the rehabilitation programme, it prevents us from having to face a great deal of problems. When the security forces conduct inquiries, if we have this identity card and produce it, then they too have no problem. The ID makes it easier for them as well as us,” he added. Courtesy: Ceylon Today