Sri Lanka’s ‘Rehabilitation’ of the LTTE: A programme of physical and mental pacification

By Together Against Genocide (TAG, formerly Tamils Against Genocide), Tuesday, February 04 2014
Figures vary, but approximately 12,000 former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) members have been ‘rehabilitated’ since the end of the war and ‘reintegrated’ back into society.[1] Relative to such numbers little is known of the ‘Rehabilitation Programme’ beyond the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GoSL) own pronouncements. In this report, we enable the voices of the ‘rehabilitated’ to speak out. We present fresh testimony from seven different sources, five of who were ‘rehabilitated’ and a further two who had privileged access to the camps.  Care has been taken to preserve the anonymity of these witnesses for their own and their extended family’s security.
The report begins by briefly setting the scene, namely the end of the civil war, for the analysis on rehabilitation that follows. The analysis explores the who, what, when, where and why of the rehabilitation programme: who qualifies for rehabilitation, what does the programme consist of, what are its timelines, where is it conducted and finally, what are the objectives of the programme, what are the motivations of those who established it, and those who carry it out?
Having focussed on the details of the programme, on what the GoSL claims it to be, and what TAG’s sources report of it, we look beyond the programme itself, to wider government policies, to historical events including the conduct of the war and to consideration of the nature of the Sri Lankan state. In light of this we contend that rehabilitation is one aspect of a coordinated plan of different actions aimed at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.[2]

[ An abbreviated version of this report was jointly submitted by NGOs TAG and The Society For Threatened Peoples (  to the UN Human Rights Council 25th Session.You may read the full report here ]

[1] According to the website of the Bureau of the Commissioner General for Rehabilitation (BCGR), “Out of approximately twelve thousand surrendered willingly and who opted for rehabilitation, over 11600 have been rehabilitated and reintegrated to the society”.
[2]Raphael Lemkin, "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe" (1943) defined genocide as, "Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups."