Relevant & Timely News
Jan 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm
CRI IN THE NEWS: Of Madness and Muslim Martyrdom: The Ideal Age of Indoctrination, by Qanta Ahmed, MD, The Huffington Post, January 3, 2011. In discussing the exposure of young children to TV broadcasts advocating martyrdom, the Children's Rights Institute was named as among the first organizations to identify such exposure as a form of child abuse. According to developmental psychologists, children between the tender ages of five and seven are highly susceptible to Hamas TV's "Sesame Street-like broadcasts" and similar programming aimed at instilling ideologies of hatred and the desire for martyrdom. Despite the belief (voiced even by parents) that young children have very short memories and quickly forget such exposure, the article notes that the images and actions depicted in this type of programming are likely "incorporated into very real and lasting constructs for the preschool Palestinian watching them" during the earliest stages of development. The full article is available here.
Arab Kids in Sur Baher, Jerusalem Taught to Sing: "May Our Blood Be Shed," Palestinian Media Watch, January 4, 2011. A recent broadcast on Hamas TV showed how children in the Islamic Riyad Al-Aqsa School in Sur Baher, East Jerusalem were taught to sing about desiring death and martyrdom, reciting lyrics such as, "May our blood be shed," and "I am a soldier, defending [Al-Aqsa's] protected area . . . I shall give up my life for its sake." The documentary, "The Shahids' (Martyrs') Wedding," appeared on Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV. Videos of the broadcast and the full article are available here.
Child Soldiers Recruited in Giri Affected Area of Arakan, Narinjara News, January 3, 2011. According to relief workers and locals in the Arakan region of Burma, which recently suffered a devastating hit by Cyclone Giri, the Burmese army has been recruiting many children to become soldiers. A relief worker reported that Mray Bon Township is the worst area for child soldier recruitment, adding that the daily struggles for food and survival faced by Mray Bon families has made recruitment even easier. Many middle and high school-aged students in the area have had to drop out of school because of the crisis faced by their families after the cyclone. Despite opposition by these children's parents, the army authority has seized the opportunity and has reportedly recruited approximately 30 soldiers, the majority of which are children. The full article is available here.
Recruitment Age of GDF No Longer 16-Years-Old, Kaieteur News, January 3, 2011. Last Thursday, the National Assembly approved legislation that will increase the recruitment age for individuals wishing to join the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). The legislation is intended to ensure that there are no child soldiers in Guyana and, according to Charles Ramson, Minister of Legal Affairs, "helps bring Guyana in compliance with its international obligations." Ramson, who piloted the legislation, added that the House is "being asked to give its approval in light of the Convention of the Rights of the Child." Under the new law, children between 16 and 18 can be recruited as apprentices, but will not be given any weapons training until they reach 18.
Although this legislation has been predicted to send "a clear message to the international community that [Guyana] is serious about the issue," it is not enough. Indeed, the requirement that weapons training be withheld until age 18 is a victory for children, but the legislation seems to overlook the nature of the apprenticeships for which children under age 18 may still be recruited. The full article is available here.
Former Child Soldiers Learn to Shoot – With a Camera, The Express Tribune, January 2, 2011. Nar Bahadur, a former child soldier who joined the underground Maoist guerrillas at age 12, fled the rebel army to Kathmandu and, with the help of children's rights organizations, has discovered a talent and love for filming. My Sunrise, Bahadur's first film, depicts life in his village and the extreme poverty that left him with no option but to join the army. The film premiered in Kathmandu as part of a trilogy, Through Our Eyes, along with two other short films made by former Maoist child soldiers. The full article is available here.