Relevant & Timely News
Jan 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm
FOLLOW UP: UK Students Taught How to Chop Off Hands: BBC, Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 2010. In CRI's last weekly update, we discussed the alarming situation of Saudi-funded schools in the U.K. teaching children violence and hate from Sharia law-based textbooks. In light of this article, we wonder if anyone has followed up on the Saudi-funded school in Virginia where, back in 2008, a federal commission issued a report stating that the academy's textbooks contain numerous hateful passages, and Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, the director of the Islamic Saudi Academy, was fined $500 after admitting that he failed to inform authorities about suspected sexual abuse of a 5-year-old girl who attended the school's Fairfax campus.
Pakistan's Child Suicide Bombers, BBC, December 9, 2010. In light of the widespread recruitment of young boys to become suicide bombers and child soldiers in Pakistan (see "Teen Suicide Bomber" below), the Pakistan Army founded a school for children rescued from militant factions. The school, now independently run by an NGO, is faced with the difficult but crucial charge of "changing the perspectives of these very troubled youngsters, who have been told that suicide bombing is a direct route to heaven." While the success of this and other initiatives aimed at integrating rescued former child soldiers back into their communities is yet to be seen, we are thrilled to see that such efforts are being made and, more broadly, that these horrific violations of children's basic human rights are finally receiving increased attention. The full article is available here.
Teen Suicide Bomber Kills 17 in Pakistan, Yahoo! News, December 8, 2010. A child suicide bomber, reported to be 15 or 16 years old, blew himself up at a crowded Pakistani market, killing 17 people and injuring 25 others. The suicide blast marks the third attack in three days blamed on radical Islamists who oppose the U.S.-allied government. The full article is available here.
Liberia Cultivating Hope in Children of War, San Francisco Chronicle, December 12, 2010. In an effort to reintegrate rescued child combatants into society, the Liberian government is supporting a project where approximately 400 former child soldiers learn agricultural skills on a 25-acre farm. Though estimates vary as to the number of child soldiers in Liberia, the actual number may exceed 20,000. During the country's civil war years, rebel and government leaders recruited children as young as 8 years old for their troops. Charles Taylor, a former warlord, even had a Small Boys Unit in his rebel army before he became president of Liberia. These young boys were armed with automatic weapons, given drugs, and "witnessed and inflicted unimaginable horrors," while young girls were kidnapped and forced to work as cooks or sex slaves. Mark Dowee, a former child soldier who witnessed rebels rape his mother and abduct his 17-year-old sister in the family's home, now helps lead the reintegration project. Reflecting on his work, Dowee said, "Peace is sweet. If we have support to engage (the former combatants) in constructive activities, their minds will be changed." The full article is available here.
L. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, Ex-Sudanese Child Soldier Talk Zero Force, Digital Journal, December 10, 2010. On December 10th, Human Rights Day, Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, former child soldier and Sudanese international hip-hop star Emmanuel Jal, and recording artist Shaun Boothe spoke in Toronto to promote Dallaire's Zero Force initiative. The initiative emphasizes its mantra, that "[o]ne child soldier is too many," and seeks to eliminate the exploitation of child soldiers around the world. According to Dallaire, he seeks "to enlist 25,000 Canadians to join Zero Force, representing one-tenth of the number of child soldiers who exist in the world today." Dallaire continued that he wants to reach this goal by February 12th, 2011, the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, at which Dallaire will represent Zero Force at the United Nations. The speakers noted that, although many children are abducted and forced to become combatants by brainwashing, confinement, slavery, torture, starvation, and intoxication through drugs and alcohol, many others receive no such pressure but instead are "poor, hungry, and surrounded by violence on a daily basis," leaving them with no choice but to join the ranks. The full article is available here.