The Express Tribune - AFP
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Quetta Zubair Mehmood at a press conference in Quetta on Wednesday claimed that the detained children had admitted their role in the bomb blast that shook Bacha Khan chowk in Quetta in January. The convicts apparently worked for the little known United Baloch Army (UBA)
Global Post - AFP
Children are being increasingly recruited on the frontline in Syria's war, with both sides to the conflict using boys as soldiers and even human shields, a British charity said on Wednesday.
Save the Children said in a report marking two years of violence in Syria that two million children were innocent victims of the bloody conflict that the United Nations says has cost at least 70,000 lives.
A children's program on Palestinian Authority TV, The Best Home, taught that Israel's land belongs to the Palestinians and was "occupied" in 1948. The children were also taught to anticipate the end of the State of Israel when the TV host stated that the land "occupied" in 1948 "will return to us one day."
A Hamas rocket killed the son of a Gaza-based BBC reporter, not an Israeli airstrike as originally reported by many Western media outlets, the United Nations has confirmed.
The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) set out to develop ways to predict what determines the targets of suicide attacks. While the ultimate goal is to create a list of areas at risk for the U.S. environment, the first phase of development employed a data set from Israel. Initially, NRL focused on spatial attributes, creating its own risk index, but realized that this focus on the where ignored the broader social context, the why. The lab asked RAND to test, as a proof of principle, the ability of sociocultural, political, economic, and demographic factors to enhance the predictive ability of NRL's methodology. Again using Israel as a sample, RAND created a database that coded for these factors, then conducted both quantitative and qualitative analyses with an eye to determining what puts a given area at greater risk. The quantitative analysis established that these factors are related to the odds of attack within specific neighborhoods and that the relationships held even when controlling for geospatial factors, so they seem to confer risk for reasons beyond their association with geospatial features of neighborhoods. The specifics of the research are limited to the preferences of Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel; however, the methods used to assess target preferences in Israel could be transferred to the United States or other countries. Any results, if proven to be robust, could be used to develop recommendations for heightened public awareness in certain areas.
CRI in the Media
CRI Director Brooke Goldstein traveled to Chattanooga, TN on January 28 to speak to the Girls Preparatory Upper School where she previewed clips from her documentary The Making of a Martyr, which she also aired at the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga's annual gathering. More information about the event can be found here and here. Ms. Goldstein also appeared on 3 Plus You (WRCBtv Chattanooga).
The New York Times
In the aftermath of the vicious gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi, more light is being shed upon prolific child sexual abuse in India, where the government needs to better shield its children from such atrocity and more adequately treat victims. Despite India's ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and domestic children's rights legislation, "[c]hildren are sexually abused by relatives at home, by people in their neighborhoods, at school and in residential facilities for orphans and other at-risk children." Many cases remain unreported largely because doctors, police, court officials, and other authorities tend to ignore children's accounts. For instance, a twelve-year-old girl, who reported being raped by a "politically connected" man, was imprisoned for two weeks and forced to change her statement. Activists are calling for more "comprehensive" and "holistic" reforms.
The 150,000 Palestinians of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus are fleeing at unprecedented rates, having been targeted and killed by both the Syrian and rebel regimes. Refugees within the camp do not just face outside terror but "internecine violence" due to conflicting ideologies and allegiances to Syrian sides. Further endangering these refugees is Palestine's refusal to "entertain a pragmatic solution" reached between Abbas and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that received Israeli approval to transport the refugees to Gaza and the West Bank so long as each refugee "signs a statement that he doesn't have the right of return (to Israel)." Such unrelenting Palestinian and Arab policy that "views all of Israel as Palestinian land" is "both the genesis and perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee 'crisis' in the first place." Overall, "Arab governments (many driven by Islamists) are still ignoring the needs of their own people while attempting to deflect all the region's troubles on the Israeli Palestinian conflict."
The situation in Yarmouk is just one of many conflicts taking place within Palestinian refugee camps throughout Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority. These crises highlight broad problems with Palestinian policy and, more specifically, the systematic failure of UNRWA, the UN organization that runs refugee camps. UNRWA has been accused of being "abysmally impotent at curbing the violence over the last decades, or blocking the permeation of radicalism within the camp" due to its lack of "budgetary support, education, and protection from infiltration by extremist[s]." Overall, UNRWA's failure has "created a culture of dependence and radicalism within its camps," preventing "the integration of refugees...even [into] the Palestinian Authority."
In war-torn Syria, children continue to be the most vulnerable victims. Since the rebels took hold of Aleppo, the city has degenerated into a "virtual twilight of dark stairwells and shuttered rooms" as civilians try to survive amidst artillery and bombs within battered apartment blocks. Inside a makeshift field hospital, a Sky News correspondent details a boy being treated for a shrapnel wound without painkillers; another awaits kidney-removal after being shot by a sniper while playing football. From severe body burns to gunshots, "children are being injured and killed in greater numbers now than the rebel fighters."
Malala Yousufzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani advocate of female education who was shot by the Taliban in October, appeared in a video on February 4 professing her continued commitment to female education. Malala, who continues to receive treatment at a British hospital, says she is "getting better, day by day." Although the left side of her face remains damaged, she was resolute in stating, "I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated." As proof of this pledge she has set up The Malala Fund, a girls' education charity. A clip of the video can be found here.
Fayhan al-Ghamdi, a former drug addict from Saudi Arabia who became a famous Islamic television preacher, was spared severe punishment despite raping, systematically torturing, and murdering his five-year-old daughter, Lama, last October. A medical report says that Lama was tortured with "whips, electric shocks and an iron," suffering from "broken arms, a broken back and a fractured skull" as well as other injuries. Instead of imprisonment or a death sentence, al-Ghamdi has been ordered to pay diya (blood money or ransom) to his wife, who only just received court permission to bury her daughter. While people are publically executed in Saudi Arabia for for blasphemy, adultery, homosexuality, and prostitution, men cannot be executed for killing their wives or children under the nation's strict Sharia law. More information can be found here.
The Jerusalem Post
Hamas continues to offer an elective military training program throughout high schools in Gaza. On January 24, as Sunni Muslims celebrated Muhammad's birthday, Gaza's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh held a ceremony in which the 3,600 participants graduated from this Al-Futuwwa ("Youth") program, "displaying mock weapons, crawling commando-style on the ground and taking up fighting positions for thousands of cheering supporters." One graduate, a fifteen-year-old, described how the program taught him to love jihad, commending its result: "[Now] I can do for real what I do in video games." Haniyeh also announced Hamas's plans for a more permanent academy to train children solely in military affairs. This proposed academy sparks worry given that senior Hamas commander Zaher Jabarin stated in a recent interview with Al-Quds TV that Hamas tirelessly educates Palestinian children to become suicide bombers.
Mynamar struggles to monitor child recruitment, despite signing a UN agreement to end the use of child soldiers and enacting several democratic reforms in its transition from military oppression. The army, along with border guard forces and opposition groups, continues to target children en route to school and work or in public places such as train stations, bus terminals, and markets, coercing them into their ranks. These groups often tell children without national identity cards that they can either go to prison or enlist. While minor efforts have been taken -- the army released 42 children last spring and allegedly rejected over 400 underage recruits in 2011 -- child recruitment remains a prominent issue. As for Mynamar's actions, hundreds of officials have been disciplined for child recruitment practices since 2007 and nine were imprisoned. On January 24, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) released 8 children who were being held as prisoners of war. Unfortunately, since the army is still fighting Kachin rebels and dealing with a high level of desertion, it continues to target its youth.
Two armed groups – the Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix (CPJP) and the Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR) – that are part of a rebel alliance called "Séléka" in the Central African Republic have started to recruit children again, despite their agreement to a UN action plan to end the use of child soldiers in November 2011 and 2007 respectively. Prior to the CPJP's refusal in December to release two girls in Aigbando, approximately 2,500 children were fighting for both groups. The CAR government's concern for children's rights was further put into question when security forces detained 64 former child soldiers claiming they were rebels before blindly releasing them without protection. In addition, the government allegedly encouraged children in Bangui to fight.
66 rescued child soldiers reside in a safe complex in Bangui, Central African Republic, after enduring forced conscription and sexual abuse. They risk facing the danger of re-recruitment once released and live in fear of death threats from government troops and local residents who suspect them of persisting enemy ties. After being rescued from armed rebel groups, the children were taken to a transit camp in Bria before being moved to a safer, police-protected location to avoid angering locals. A video report can be viewed here.
Women News Network
Islamist groups occupying Northern Mali since April have been using hundreds of child soldiers to fend off French troops. The Ansar Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have recruited children from Mali and Niger to training camps where they study the Koran and learn to use weapons before being employed to guard prisoners, patrol, prepare food, and, most dangerously, staff checkpoints close to combat zones. The child soldiers are mostly boys from highly conservative Muslim villages that practice Wahabism. A witness from Konna recounted seeing "the Islamists [arrive] in about 10 land cruisers" with "about a dozen children among them, several…only 12 or 13 years old, all armed with big guns." Another witness near Gao recounted how "in Boré it was the children who came into our bus to ask[ed] for our papers and check[ed] our luggage."
The 2,500 French troops deployed to Mali have to contend with killing child soldiers in their quest to prevent Islamists from taking over the south. One 16-year-old boy, Adama Drabo, reveals the tragic existences of such child soldiers. Like many young recruits, Adama is an uneducated rice-grower from a poor village close to the frontlines that practices Wahabism, a conservative form of Islam. Reassured that they would find employment in Sevare, Adama and his friends travelled there. They were hired to cook for a group of men who spoke Arabic and Tamashek, which they did not understand. Adama did not know that the men were members of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO) and was happy to be making $200 per month – a much higher rate than his village wage. After learning that his employers were rebel fighters from a shop owner, Adama escaped to an adjacent village. There, a motorcyclist recognized his Islamist uniform and handed him over to the Malian army for violent interrogation and threats of death before putting him in prison, where he remains. Adama's case is just one of many in Mali, where hundreds of children are often purchased for $1,000 to $1,200 from poor parents. Rebels have attempted to justify the recruitment by quoting the Koran's description of children as "the purest apprentices."
According to its Web site, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) "is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized." On January 23, the organization issued a press release announcing that its Executive Board had elected a five-member leadership Bureau to include the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran. You read that right.
Iran leads the world in executing child offenders, those convicted of crimes committed when they were under the age of eighteen. Just last month, Iran carried out such an execution. According to a report by Amnesty International:
In a recent report for the Guardian (Israeli and Palestinian textbooks omit borders, Feb. 4), Harriet Sherwood exposed Israel's education system for the world, or at least her loyal readership, to see, noting that: "In Israeli textbooks, 76% of maps show no boundaries between Palestinian territories and Israel.
nstead, Sherwood serves the cause of absurd moral equivalency by implying that while Palestinian textbooks portray a world without Israel,refer to Jews as "Zionist gangs" and rewrite the Holocaust to ignore atrocities committed against Jews, Israel's no better since it doesn't recognize the non-existent borders of a country which doesn't exist.
Sherwood's piece suggests that Israel is teaching hatred by virtue of the fact that its educational system doesn't propagate the Palestinian national narrative, one which depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as an original sin that dispossessed the land's native people. Over the years this Nakba narrative has metastasized into an international coalition of Islamists and leftists which celebrates the Palestinians as the quintessential "Other", the last victims of Western racism and colonialism.
Sadly for Ms Sherwood and her fellow travelers, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." So, beyond the guerrilla chic appeal of movements for social justice that are only heard if they are loudly anti-Western, and superficially pro-democratic – yet remarkably mute when it comes to the vast majority of crimes against humanity inflicted by the once colonized against their own people – here are some pesky facts to consider:
While Sherwood finds it noteworthy that school books of societies in conflict tend to contradict one another, she finds the following facts too inconsequential to even bear repeating:
At its core the Palestinian liberation movement stands neither for the Palestinians nor liberation. It is very much defined by what it's against: the sovereignty of the Jewish State over ALL lands seized, conquered or liberated (insert your preferred verb here…) from 1948 onward. Sherwood and her political fellow travelers realizes that since Palestinian independence needs to be created Ex nihilo – out of nothing – the only surefire way to do so is by undermining Israel's legitimacy by a thousand cuts.
Today, it's Israel's education system. Rest assured that once school is out for the summer, Sherwood and like-minded fighters for freedom will dig up another half-baked canard, dust it off and fashion it into the latest whip to be inflicted upon Israel and its citizens.
This article was originally published by CiF Watch on February 4th 2013 and appears here, with permission.
CRI Update: Morsi encouraged teaching children to hate, increased use of child soldiers in Central African Republic, and more...
The New York Times
Despite Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's supposed commitment to Egypt's treaty with Israel and partnership with President Obama to establish peace in the Gaza Strip, a series of anti-Semitic and anti-Western comments he made several years ago have called into question the sincerity of his newfound diplomacy. In 2010, while a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Morsi publically called upon Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Zionists and Jews, adding that Egyptian children "must feed on hatred . . . as a form of worshiping [God]." At other times, Morsi described Zionists as "Draculas," "bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, warmongers, [and] descendants of apes and pigs," language historically associated with anti-Semitism.
Morsi's rhetoric is by no means the only instance of efforts in Egypt to indoctrinate children to hate non-Muslims. In 2011, attention was brought to Egyptian school curricula that presented Islam as "the only true faith" and labeled followers of other religions, including Judaism and Christianity, as "infidels." A report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE), a think-tank in Jerusalem, warned that Egyptian schools must stop teaching children to fear and hate non-Muslims since such sentiments are precisely what leads to violence and terrorism in response to conflict.
Daily Mail Online
A trial has begun in Great Britain to prosecute a gang of nine men from the Oxford area accused of sexually abusing six girls, as young as age 11, between May 2004 and early 2012. These men, along with others, allegedly "actively targeted" poor, often parentless girls with perfume, alcohol, and drugs. The girls were reportedly subjected to what has been described as "extreme physical and sexual violence," including repeated rape, torture with various weapons, suffocation, biting, burning with cigarettes, and drugging into submission. The men, aged 24 to 38, have been charged with 79 offenses for their "intentional and persistent" abuse, including child rape, trafficking for sexual exploitation, arranging or facilitating child prostitution, and using an instrument with intent to procure a miscarriage. The trial is expected to last until August.
Saudi Arabia's policy (or lack thereof) on child brides has recently become a topic of much controversy following the marriage of a 70-year-old man to a 15-year-old girl. Currently, Saudi Arabia has no law requiring a minimum age for marriage. A Saudi human rights worker has also stated that, given the large difference in age, the girl appears to have been sold and her parents should be held accountable. In the midst of outrage expressed by advocates against child marriage, the man has claimed that the girl is in fact 25 year old and was part of a plot to cheat him out of the dowry he paid to the girl's parents.
The Times of Israel
Umm Osama, wife of Hamas MP Khalil Al-Hayya, told an interviewer on Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV that a mother's role is to "instill in her children the love of Jihad and martyrdom for the sake of Allah." Addressing the importance of women in Palestinian society, Osama said, "When a man goes to wage Jihad, his wife does not say 'Don't go' or try to stop him. She encourages and supports him. She is the one who prepares his equipment, bids him farewell, and welcomes [his Jihad]." She continued that there would be no one to support Palestine if all mothers prevented their sons from waging Jihad, adding that "[Palestine's] price is paid with our body remains and our lifeblood."
The Huffington Post
A 15-year-old Maldivian, whose stepfather was accused by police of repeatedly raping her and murdering the baby he fathered, now faces flogging for "fornication" with another man. While investigating the rape case, evidence was reportedly discovered that the girl had had consensual sex with another man, which is a crime under the nation's strict Sharia (Islamic) law. According to a local newspaper, an official from the prosecutor's office stated that the fornication charge was unrelated to the rape.
UNICEF has reported that rebel groups and pro-government militias in Central African Republic are increasingly recruiting children for use in armed conflict. The country now faces a rebellion in the north and, even before the conflict began last month, an estimated 2,500 children were involved with armed forces. The rebellion has impacted approximately 300,000 children, resulting in separation from families, sexual violence, and lack of access to education and health facilities. According to reports, children are not only being forcibly recruited to fight but also for use as sex slaves.
The New York Times
Earlier this month, Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani advocate for female education who survived an assassination attempt by Taliban militants, was discharged from a UK hospital. Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in October, will be treated as an outpatient before returning to the hospital later this winter for cranial reconstructive surgery. At age 11, Yousafzai's advocacy began with the publication of her blog, Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl, which discussed life under Taliban rule.
According to the UN, Sri Lanka has successfully ended its recruitment and use of child soldiers. In June 2012, the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict removed Sri Lanka from its "List of Shame," which includes parties to conflict that have committed grave violations against children. The nation's efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate former child combatants were also applauded.
Colombian Green Party Senator Gilma Jimenez has called on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the nation's largest guerrilla group, to release all child soldiers as part of peace talks with the FARC. Norway, Cuba, Venezuela, and Chile are acting as guarantors in the peace process, and Jimenez has urged these countries to ensure that the talks address the return of child soldiers. FARC has reportedly abducted children for use in armed conflict and has even entered schools and bribed children for such purposes.
CRI Update: 5-year-old children trained with assault rifles at al-Qaeda camp, Syran refugee girls exploited for marriage, and more...
Daily Mail Online
In newly discovered footage of an al-Qaeda terror camp near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, children as young as five years old are shown being trained to kill with pistols and AK-47 assault rifles. The material was posted on an underground al-Qaeda website and issued by the Turkistan Islamic Party, which trains fighters to assist the Afghanistani Taliban.
Israel National News
Designated terrorist group Hamas launched one of its recent rocket attacks against Israel at the specific time that Israeli children depart from school. There has been no confirmation that the attack was indeed timed to intentionally target children, but Israelis have voiced that the missiles were fired at exactly the time that many children were out in the open.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
A new aspect of the Syrian humanitarian crisis has come to light: a phenomenon called "protection marriage," which involves Arab Muslim men marrying female Syrian refugees aged 12-16 under the pretext of saving them from refugee camps, protecting their honor, and assisting the Syrian revolution. These marriages have often resulted in rape and prostitution, as men from different Arab countries bargain for Syrian women on the internet.
Philippine Information Agency
Family welfare advocates are promoting an Anti-Corporal Punishment Bill that prohibits the corporal or physical punishment of children in homes, schools, and all other institutional settings. The legislation is part of a broader movement to protect children's rights in the Philippines.