Relevant & Timely News
Jun 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm
The Depravity Factor, New York Times, June 2, 2011. Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, a 13-year-old Syrian boy, was arrested at an antigovernment protest and, while in custody, was burned, beaten, lacerated, and electroshocked. A month after the arrest, police returned Hamza's "mutilated body" to his family, with jaw and kneecaps shattered and gunshots in both arms. According to Syrian human rights groups, President Bashar al-Assad's Baathist regime has murdered more than 1,000 protestors in the past few weeks, and the U.S. government has designated Syria a "state sponsor of terror" for 30 consecutive years. The full article is available here.
RCMP Report Warns of Extremists Spinning Web to Recruit Youths Online, The Globe and Mail, June 7, 2011. A new report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reveals that extremist groups are using online video games, cartoon characters, and puzzles to promote their radical views and entice children to join their ranks. Efforts by such groups include: an online al-Qaeda magazine ran stories glorifying female suicide bombers to increase the group's appeal among women; U.S. white supremacists created a game called "Ethnic Cleansing," where players dressed in Ku Klux Klan outfits kill minorities; and a neo-Nazi group targeted younger children by providing a crossword puzzle with racist questions and answers. The full article is available here.
Philippines Child Soldiers Bill Faces Hurdles – HRW, AlertNet, June 3, 2011. Last week, the Philippines' House of Representatives approved a bill banning and criminalizing the use of children in armed conflict. The bill prohibits the killing, torture, maiming, rape, abduction, use as human shields, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment of children, as well as the recruitment of children by the military, police, and other armed groups. Additionally, the bill bans military operations near public areas that children tend to occupy, such as schools and hospitals. Bede Sheppard, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch's (HRW) Children's Rights Division, believes that the effort should be congratulated, but noted two significant obstacles in fulfilling the bill's potential. First, the majority of the recruitment and use of children is committed by the New People's Army (NPA), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the Abu Sayyaf Group—armed political groups over whom the government lacks control. Second, the other groups accused of using children are government paramilitary forces, and "only a few members have ever been prosecuted for their crimes." Sheppard added that HRW has called for President Aquino to "disarm and disband all paramilitary and militia forces." The full article is available here.
Kids With Bombs: In Afghanistan And Pakistan, A Child With A Dream Can Be Deadly, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 1, 2011. A 15-year-old Afghan boy and would-be suicide bomber stated that he associates a bomb blast with "heaven." He added that, during his education in a Pakistani madrasah (Islamic religious school), he was instructed to travel to Afghanistan and participate in a suicide mission to blow up an airport, and was reassured of "how beautiful it would be" in heaven. In response to the recent series of suicide bombings, Afghan officials are monitoring madrasahs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly those in refugee camps on the border between the two countries, where extremist activity is highest. Officials claim that many students in Pakistani madrasahs are being taught extremist ideology "under the guise of religion." The full article is available here.
15-Year-Old Abducted by Burmese Troops, Democratic Voice of Burma, May 25, 2011. On May 16th, the Burmese army (referred to as the Tatmadaw) forcibly recruited a young boy from his village. According to the boy's grandfather, an army captain confirmed the boy's name and presence the day after his abduction, but later denied the boy's recruitment. After another attempt to contact the boy, the captain allegedly threatened the grandfather for "defaming the army." A U.N. report released earlier this month accused Burma of being one of the few governments that continues to systematically recruit child soldiers and stated that, "Children continue to be persuaded or duped by relatives (working in the Tatmadaw), soldiers (to earn a promotion or other incentives) and others to join the Tatmadaw." The full article is available here.
Somalia: Recruitment of Child Soldiers in Baidoa Town, Sunatimes, May 19, 2011. On May 19th, the Al-Shabab militia in Baidoa, Somalia commenced recruitment and training of approximately 30 students from the town's madrasas. Residents reported that the children were between the ages of 12 and 15. Some parents have begun to remove their children from the madrasas, while others expressed concern but felt they were powerless against the militia. The full article is available here.
Groomed for Suicide: How Taliban Recruits Children for Mass Murder, The Guardian, May 17, 2011. After allegedly stealing mobile phones during a wedding party, a 14-year-old boy was taken into custody by the Taliban and told that he could choose either to have his hand cut off for stealing or to "redeem himself" and "bring glory on his family" by becoming a suicide bomber. The boy chose the latter option. He was taught to use a handgun with which he could shoot guards at a nearby U.S. military base, fitted with an explosive-filled suicide vest, and instructed to blow himself up inside the base, "killing himself and as many U.S. and Afghan soldiers as possible." The full article is available here.
Do No Harm: How a Gazan Baby's Life Became Tangled in Politics, National Post, May 16, 2011.After her infant son's life was saved thanks to Israeli medical expertise and the help of an anonymous benefactor, a Palestinian woman stated that she would be proud to have her son become a suicide bomber or shahid (martyr) "for the sake of Jerusalem." Four-month old Mohammed Abu Mustafa was brought to an emergency room in Gaza and quickly diagnosed as suffering from a severe type of immunodeficiency, a condition from which neither of his sisters had survived and which would likely prove fatal before his first birthday. His mother has since retracted her statement, and the treating doctor opined that her voiced desire for her son to become a martyr was "aimed at deflecting such criticism from Palestinians who saw her effort to save her child as traitorous." The full article is available here.