Ex-Tamil Fighters Start Factory Life in Sri Lanka

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sri Lankan women who were Tamil combatants a year ago are leaving rehabilitation camps and moving into the work force. Four hundred just arrived at a hostel for workers in a factory that ships clothes to Target and Wal-Mart.

Page 2 of 2

Caught and Punished

She once tried to escape the Tamil rebels but was caught and punished. "They got me to cut wood to build bunkers. We had to work really hard."

She said the rebels promised to pay her $91 a month. "But we were paid a little money once in three months only. Recently we came to know how lavishly the leaders lived. They cheated poor women like us."

She says she's not scared of saying the truth. "I have already forgotten the dark side of my life. Now I want to move on and let my children live in a peaceful environment," she said. Her mother is caring for her children--two daughters, 14 and 12, and a 10-year-old son--in their village.

Many of the women have limited education, but Niranjala, 20, was five months away from her university entrance examination when she was conscripted in April 2009.

She had been attending the government school in Kilinochchi. After one week of intensive military training she was sent to the Tamil forces' military front. She only had to fight for a few weeks because the battle was nearing the end at that point.

Along with many of the other women here, she crossed the lagoon. She worried about what had happened to her siblings and parents. Miraculously they all found each other among the thousands of people in the same rehabilitation camp.

In the rehabilitation camp Niranjala attended classes and continued her studies. "Now I want to learn sewing skills. And when I am fully released, I will sit for the university entrance examination next year," she said.

SubscribeWould you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at

Chandani Jayatilleke is a freelance writer in Colombo, Sri Lanka, who contributes to several international publications.

For more information:

Tri Star Group:

2 COMMENTS | Login or Sign Up to post comments



New Female Troops Patrol South Bengal Frontier


Liberia Stresses Need for Female Peacemakers


Female Vets Offer Commander-in-Chief Advice

user47309 - have u evr visited sri lanka and its garment factories to judge they are sweat shops. And to say sri lanka prosecuted MINORITY tamils.
FYI_ In sri lanka there are no minorities - we are one nation - one people and one country. It is one of the most tolerable countries in the world.
when these women were forced to fight - where did you people live???
If you still want to support them - y not talk to the authorities and try to do something without limiting urself to writing b****** comments.
all the best to the women workers.

So it's OK that these women are now working in a sweatshop!!!-how horrible!

And doesn't anyone else found these rehabilitation centers (i.e., prisons) disturbing!

I don't support Tamil Tigers or terrorism in any form, but the Sri Lankan government persecuted the Tamil minority and continues to persecute these people and the Tamils have the right to defend themselves.