Home Guard/Civil Defence Force (Sri Lanka)

Country: Sri Lanka
Details of Formation: This group is a Muslim and Sinhalese village protection unit. The Home Guards are first mentioned in 1982 and according to this source were established in January 1982 as an unarmed unit. The first evidence that the group was armed is from 1985. The government reports that group was founded in 1984. The Home Guards were restructured in 2006 as the Civil Security Department was established. Since then the Home Guards are also known as Civil Defence Force but both names have been used interchangeably.
Details of Termination: The group still exists in 2014. It was renamed the Civil Defence Force.
Purpose: The group assists the police and is responsible for various security tasks, e.g. defence, emergency assistance or protecting economically relevant objects. During the civil war the main purpose was to protect villages at the border and civilians living there from LTTE attacks. Increasingly, from 2006 onwards, while helping the police with security-related tasks is still a component, the focus shifted to social tasks with the group now working on things such as disaster assistance, social welfare, cultural tasks and development. Members are also involved in farming and other productive tasks, generating income. When necessary, the PGM can still be deployed to provide security.
Organisation: The group is subordinated to the police and more broadly the Ministry of Defence (after its transformation into the Civil Security Force). The ranks within the group include district officer, warden, sub warden and home guard.
Weapons and Training: The group was armed by the government with shotguns, automatic rifles, assault rifles, and self-loading rifles. The government also provided training. With the establishment of the Civil Security Department a training of one month in two stages (basic training in army centres and additional training in the deployment area) was introduced.
Size: During the civil war the group had about 18,000 members. In 2002, there were 20,260 members. This number increased to approximately 41,000 after the war.
Reason for Membership: Members are mainly Sinhalese, fighting against Tamil rebels, suggesting ethnic motivations for membership. Religious and nationalist ideas may also act as motivations. Moreover, the income individuals receive is reported as an incentive.
Treatment of Civilians: The group has been accused of massacres of Tamil civilians, rape, murder, shootings and beating, spreading fear among the population. According to reports it treated Tamils harshly. Government sources state that it was effective in protecting civilians from rebel attacks.
Other Information: It is reported that a stipend was paid to volunteers. One source suggests that the ruling political party played some role in the selection of members. In 2014 it was stated that members were to receive pensions under certain conditions and were still available for deployment if the security situation would require it. Young people have been reported to join in significant numbers in some areas. The group still participates in parades with the regular armed forces.
References: PGMD and Wikipedia. “Sri Lanka Civil Security Force.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lanka_Civil_Security_Force