ACPR today releases, “Civil Security Department: The Deep Militarisation of the Vanni”, a report examining the Civil Security Department’s establishment in the Vanni and its impact. Eight years after the war ended, and despite multiple promises to the international community to end military involvement in civilian activities, the Civil Security Department (CSD) is the epitome of the Sri Lankan government’s failure to undertake meaningful security sector reform and uphold its pledges.
The CSD is a department of the military established in 2006 out of the controversial National Home Guard Service by then Secretary of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Originally envisaged as a volunteer security force, the CSD was largely operational in border villages and the Eastern province as part of a counter-insurgency strategy. However, as the report documents, post-2009, the CSD remade itself out to be a provider of economic development. Since 2012, the CSD has aggressively targeted former LTTE cadres and war-affected women in the Vanni to join its ranks. As of last year, the CSD employed over 3000 individual in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi alone, making it one of the largest providers of employment in the region.
The report finds serious issues with the CSD’s operations in the Vanni:
The growth of the CSD in the Vanni points to the larger issue of the Sri Lankan military’s failure to transition into a reduced post-war role. Instead, the military’s approach to its post-war role has been to embed and normalize the process of militarisation, thereby extending its control and subjugation of Tamil populations in the Vanni. The CSD is very clearly a part of the military, and so its provision of livelihood opportunities though much needed, must be read as the creation of economic dependence on the military, rather than economic development. Through this dependence and because of its military character, the CSD also suppresses civic and political activism of its employees, and further marginalizes women employed as this report explains. Alarmingly, a consequence of the CSD has also been the beginning of a destruction of community identity and cohesiveness.
The report notes the increasingly militaristic character of the CSD through its implementation of mandatory one-month military training for all CSD farm employees, and the increasing presence of the military in pre-schools with CSD-paid pre-school teachers, among other things. The report also raises questions about the need to investigate gender-based violence by supervisors and soldiers on CSD farms and the suppression of political and civic activism by the CSD.
In detailed recommendations, the report calls on the Sri Lankan government, the Northern Provincial Council, Tamil political parties, and the international community to intervene to stop the CSD’s occupation of civilian economic spaces in the Vanni, and to provide alternative forms of livelihood to the impoverished Vanni region.
Read the report in full here.