The Secret Beyond Matter

Child soldiers' deadly playground

Vasil Ahmad was one of the heroes in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Even though he was 12 years old, there were photos of him in police uniform.

One day, as he was on his way to school, Taliban militants stopped him on the street and killed him with two bullets to the head.

The reason for Vasil Ahmad's death was that the Afghan police had given him weapons, thereby involving him in the country’s civil war. After this incident, the Kabul administration announced that it would put an end to this practice.

However, the problem is not limited to Afghanistan alone. About 250,000 children are forced into fighting in wars. (1)

These children are under constant risk of being killed or exploited. Some of them are forced and encouraged to kill. They join armed conflicts sometimes in rebel groups and sometimes in a nation’s armed forces.

For example, the children kidnapped from their families by the terrorist organization PKK under the premise of "mandatory military service" have occupied the national agenda for a long time (2) and Turkish Security Forces announced that the PKK kidnapped and took a total of 2,052 children under the age of 18 to the mountains by deceiving them. (3) There is a similar situation in many other countries: There are about 16,000 child warriors in southern Sudan alone. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are 10 different armed groups using child warriors.

Many children in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, the Central African Republic, the Philippines, Myanmar and Colombia are either shooting weapons or are under fire while their peers are in schools, playing games or spending time with their families.

Child warriors are considered as cheap and expendable resources. The cost of getting a child into military service in Uganda and Northern Kenya is only as much as buying a hen. Not only that there is no one to defend their rights, it is also impossible for them to do it on their own. Most of the time, they have no idea what is really going on. Since they cannot always distinguish right from the wrong in that age, they are easily manipulated; they think they are part of a realistic game. They receive little to no training before being sent to the frontline.

According to the Child Soldiers Global Research Report, the age of the children participating in conflicts can be as low as seven. Some of them are used as carriers or messengers, and others as spies. In Myanmar, for example, children are forced to sweep roads with tree branches in order to detect or detonate mines. The children can be sent to the frontlines when they are considered old enough to use an assault weapon or semi-automatic weapon (usually at age 10). Child soldiers are often treated very cruelly and they are heavily punished when they make mistakes or try to escape. In many countries, captured, escaped or surrendered child soldiers are subjected to abuse, torture and even killed. (4)

The problem is not exclusive to underdeveloped countries with weaker democracies as many think. It is possible to find child soldiers even in wealthy advanced western democracies. The United Kingdom, for instance, takes 16 -year -old children into military service, and 17 -year- olds are known to have participated in  the Falklands War and the Gulf War. Moreover, the child soldiers' rate of involvement in the army is on the rise in this country. In the UK, while children under the age of 18 are not allowed to vote yet, they are allowed to serve in the armed forces. (5)

It is also known that the US sent children under the age of 18 to the Gulf War, and to Somalia and the Balkans.

In the German Armed Forces, child novices are carrying out target practice with real bullets during training. The number of 17- year- old children recruited into Bundeswehr by the German Armed Forces has rose to 1,515 in 2015.

In these countries, young people who are legally underage are turned into soldiers in order to make up for staff shortages. Children are invited to the military service by public service ads. In these advertisements, the recruitment of a child is often associated with a heroic story and the children are encouraged to fight. 

The standards of UK and the United States in this regard are certainly not as low as of Myanmar, Sudan or Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the fact that we encounter child soldiers - even in developed countries - reveals the gravity of the situation. However, apart from a few non-governmental organizations, there is no serious criticism addressed over this issue.

What is even more interesting is the fact that even though UN has close to 200 member countries, the number of countries that signed the "protocol to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts," which the UN initiated in 2000, is only 80.

No one should consider a 12-year-old child forced into a war with weapons in hand less important than the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere or regard a practice considered a crime in Africa as something entirely different when it takes place in London. Child soldiers are a very serious problem for the whole world, especially at such a time where conflicts are getting more and more intense. When the necessary attention is paid to this problem, only then can a safer world be possible for the children, who are the ornaments of this world and who need to be raised with strong love and compassion.

 

References:

  1. Peter Hille, 14 ülkede çocuk askerler savaşıyor, 12 Şubat 2016, http://www.dw.com/tr/14-%C3%BClkede-%C3%A7ocuk-askerler-sava%C5%9F%C4%B1yor/a-19044420
  2. Milliyet Gazetesi, PKK, şimdi de çocuk kaçırmaya başladı, 25 Nisan 2016, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/pkk-simdi-de-cocuk-kacirmaya-gundem-2233574/
  3. Vatan Gazetesi, PKK 2 yılda 2 bin çocuğu dağa kaçırdı, 21 Eylül 2015, http://www.gazetevatan.com/pkk-2-yilda-2-bin-cocugu-daga-kacirdi-866116-gundem/
  4. Biamag, Çocuk Askerler, 15 Haziran 2001, https://m.bianet.org/biamag/insan-haklari/2869-cocuk-askerler
  5. Greg Barrow, UK 'shamed' over teenage soldiers , 12 June 2001, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1383998.stm

Adnan Oktar's piece in Daily News (South Africa) 

2017-11-10 23:28:16

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