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Child Soldiers: "A Four-Foot Tall Killing Machine"


Society & Culture  (tags: africa, afganistan, kosovo, world, children, violence, ChildAbuse, child soldiers )


- 4336 days ago - alertnet.org
From Sierra Leone to Congo, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, child soldiers are the war weapon of choice, "easily manipulated, intensely loyal, fearless and, most important, in endless supply",



   

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Past Member (0)
Wednesday May 9, 2007, 7:19 pm
Having worked with child soldiers I can tell you that the damage done is deep...almost beyond healing. Many who manage to escape as refugees are not provided with the healing and rehabilitation that is required to avert a tragic life of self harm, violence and crime.

Their pain is unbelievable and the shame and outrage they carry is profound.

One young man I met that was a child soldier from Africa, took 11 years to heal. He was forced to commit so many atrocities that violated every tribal custom that defined a decent human being. This was a strategic method of initiating children. Once they have done these things, they are made to believe that there is no turning back and the only path is to stay with those who have enslaved them. They are their new family.

Sometimes they are asked to kill their parents or harm , defile and disgrace the community elders. They participate in tortures and rapes and where they are not actively involved, they are forced to watch.

Biderman's Chart Of Coercion is a perfect outline of the dehumanizing methods used against these children that renders them so loyal and submissive to their "leaders/torturers/abusers". A terrible dynamic is created that is nearly impossible to break through.

Many children in Africa are used to sweep mine fields. They are sent out in front of the army so that if any mines are on the path, it will take the children. They do not do this willingly. They are shot at and forced to either run over the field and possibly come through alive, or die for disobeying.

The young man I met saw many of his friends die in those minefields and cannot forget their screams. He was forbidden to offer any help. They were left to die alone.

So, I have heard far too much and it is absolutely excruciating to witness the confusion and suffering of these children.

It does not matter which country is doing this to them. The methods are identical and the agenda is just as diabolical.

There needs to be much more involvement of the world community to end this crime against children. The political will to intervene seems to be utterly absent.
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday May 12, 2007, 7:41 pm
Although there are no exact figures, hundreds of thousands of children under the age of 18 serve in government forces or armed rebel groups. Some are as young as eight years old.
Since 2001, the participation of child soldiers has been reported in 21 on-going or recent armed conflicts in almost every region of the world.
Children are uniquely vulnerable to military recruitment because of their emotional and physical immaturity. They are easily manipulated and can be drawn into violence that they are too young to resist or understand.
Technological advances in weaponry and the proliferation of small arms have contributed to the increased use of child soldiers. Lightweight automatic weapons are simple to operate, often easily accessible, and can be used by children as easily as adults.
Children are most likely to become child soldiers if they are poor, separated from their families, displaced from their homes, living in a combat zone or have limited access to education.
Many children join armed groups because of economic or social pressure, or because children believe that the group will offer food or security. Others are forcibly recruited, "press-ganged" or abducted by armed groups.
Both girls and boys are used as child soldiers. In some countries, like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uganda, a third or more of the child soldiers were reported to be girls. In some conflicts, girls may be raped, or given to military commanders as "wives."
Once recruited, child soldiers may serve as porters or cooks, guards, messengers or spies. Many are pressed into combat, where they may be forced to the front lines or sent into minefields ahead of older troops. Some children have been used for suicide missions.
Children are sometimes forced to commit atrocities against their own family or neighbors. Such practices help ensure that the child is "stigmatized" and unable to return to his or her home community.
In some countries, former child soldiers have access to rehabilitation programs to help them locate their families, get back into school, receive vocational training, and re-enter civilian life. However, many children have no access to such programs. They may have no way to support themselves and are at risk of re-recruitment
In 2000, the United Nations adopted an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The protocol prohibits the forced recruitment of children under the age of 18 or their use in hostilities. To date, it has been ratified by more than 110 countries.
The ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor prohibits the forced or compulsory recruitment of children under the age of 18 for use in armed conflict. It has been ratified by over 150 countries.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH







 

Past Member (0)
Saturday May 12, 2007, 7:42 pm
The Voices of Child Soldiers
“The section leader ordered us to take cover and open fire. There were seven of us, and seven or ten of the enemy. I was too afraid to look, so I put my face in the ground and shot my gun up at the sky. I was afraid their bullets would hit my head. I fired two magazines, about forty founds. I was afraid that if I didn’t fire the section leader would punish me.”
- Khin Maung Than, recruited by Burma’s national army at age eleven

“My parents refused to give me to the LTTE so about fifteen of them came to my house—it was both men and women, in uniforms, with rifles, and guns in holsters…. I was fast asleep when they came to get me at one in the morning… These people dragged me out of the house. My father shouted at them, saying, “What is going on?” but some of the LTTE soldiers took my father away towards the woods and beat him…. They also pushed my mother onto the ground when she tried to stop them.”
-girl recruited by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka at age sixteen.

I was captured in Lofa County by government forces. The forces beat me, they held me and kept me in the bush. I was tied with my arms kept still and was raped there. I was fourteen years old. . . . After the rape, I was taken to a military base. . . I was used in the fighting to carry medicine. During the fighting I would carry medicine on my head and was not allowed to talk. I had to stand very still. I had to do a lot of work for the soldiers, sweeping, washing, cleaning. During this time, I felt really bad. I was afraid. I wanted to go home, but was made to stay with the soldiers.
- Evelyn, recruited in Liberia by government forces at age fourteen

I had a friend, Juanita, who got into trouble for sleeping around. We had been friends in civilian life and we shared a tent together. The commander said that it didn’t matter that she was my friend. She had committed an error and had to be killed. I closed my eyes and fired the gun, but I didn’t hit her. So I shot again. The grave was right nearby. I had to bury her and put dirt on top of her. The commander said,”You did very well. Even though you started to cry, you did well. You’ll have to do this again many more times, and you’ll have to learn not to cry.””
- Angela, joined the FARC-EP in Colombia at age twelve

“Early on when my brothers and I were captured, the LRA explained to us that all five brothers couldn’t serve in the LRA because we would not perform well. So they tied up my two younger brothers and invited us to watch. Then they beat them with sticks until two of them died. They told us it would give us strength to fight. My youngest brother was nine years old.”
- Martin, recruited by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda at age twelve

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
 
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