HRW charges baseless: Karuna

TMVP leader Karuna denies charges of kids' recruitment for its military wing, reports PK Balachandran.
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Updated on Feb 03, 2007 03:49 PM IST
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None | ByPK Balachandran, Colombo

The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) led by former LTTE commander Karuna, says that the Human Rights Watch's charge that it is recruiting kids for its military wing is baseless and has been made without any verification. 
In an e-mail to Joe Becker of the HRW sent  on Saturday, the secretary of the TMVP's political wing, Ms Padhmini, said that Karuna had personally invited her and other members of the HRW to visit his camps and verify the charges, but this offer had gone unheeded. 
The HRW had written its report based only on material provided by the LTTE's agents, Padhmini charged. 
The reference was to HRW's damning report entitled: "Sri Lanka: Karuna group abducts children for combat. Government   complicity  in forced recruitment of young Tamils."
Karuna had told Becker over the phone that he did not believe in child recruitment and had opposed it while he was in the LTTE (in the period before March 2004) 
In fact, child recruitment was one of the issues on which he left the LTTE, he said. He maintained that child recruitment was not done by him but by the intelligence wing of the LTTE over which he had no control. 
Karuna also pointed out that before he broke away from the LTTE, he had released 4,000 children in his ranks and entrusted them to their parents. 
"Despite the personal invitation by the TMVP leader to visit our military base, a concession which we do not offer to any other organisation, you had failed to make use of the privileges provided to you as well as other staff members of the Human Rights Watch," Padhmini told Becker in her e-mail. 
"Unfortunately, your officers who had been in Sri Lanka to prepare the questionable report never cared to contact us or verify the authenticity of the allegations contained in the affidavits." 
"We believe that, if you checked the facts, on the ground, you would not have fallen for the propaganda of our political and military rivals aimed at   tarnishing our image," Padhmini said.

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