Wars on Children

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[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”52″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#1e73be”]I[/mks_dropcap]n this era of Unipolarity, with America as the Ringmaster, the contemporary geopolitics suffers from serious anarchy. Although unipolarity is believed to be ‘an interstate system and not an Empire’, the present political climate has presented before us, exactly what has been denied. Amidst warfare, brutality, venality and absolute lawlessness–those are primarily our concerns, anyway– we have made our children suffer a lot, displaying nothing but sheer savagery. In the name of ‘War on Terror’, in the name of ‘installing democracies’, in the name of establishing ethnic identities, in the course of ‘want of Freedom’, or in the course of protecting the homeland– childhood is largely being stolen from the World. We see the military use of Children at an uncanny pace. “Military use of children takes three distinct forms: children can take direct part in hostilities (child soldiers), or they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, lookouts; or they can be used for political advantage either as human shields or in propaganda.”

Apart from that, even children dying out of starvation in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the North-Eastern Indian states, children dying out of diseases due to poor medical facilities, child trafficking, Child Sexual Abuse, children being beaten and harassed in schools, bullying– these are all darker or lighter shades of what we intend to encapsulate within the meaning of ‘Wars on Children.’ Young boys pelting stones on Army tanks in Kashmir echo a message that something is really, really fractured in the edifice of our Democracy. Throwing out of a street kid by McDonald’s in Pune, because he was trying to buy Fanta Float slyly passed on a message that Capitalism won’t entertain the ‘underdressed, poor brat’ into its fold. We may conclude: Children and women have always been an easy target, come what may.

DENIAL OF HUMANITARIAN ACCESS

In the situations of war, armed rebellion and insurgency; humanitarian access is immensely required for the civilians who are affected mentally as well as physically. According to the information on the website of United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict titled, ‘Denial of Humanitarian Access’– “Denial of humanitarian access entails blocking the free passage or timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to persons in need as well as the deliberate attacks against humanitarian workers.” It is also estimated by the same source that in today’s conflicts around the globe, 80 millions of children are denied humanitarian assistance. Access can be denied or hampered by parties to conflict for security or political reasons. In many parts of the world, humanitarian assistance is sometimes interrupted because of ongoing fighting.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT AND THE CHILD RIGHTS’ VIOLATIONS  

The Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council issued on 15 May, 2014 presents the following information:-

“Palestinian and Israeli children continued to be affected by the prevailing situation of military occupation, conflict and closure. Eight Palestinian children (six boys and two girls) were killed and 1,265 were injured in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2013. In the West Bank, an upsurge was observed in the number of Palestinian children killed and injured by Israeli security forces during clashes and as a result of violence by Israeli settlers. Eight Israeli children were injured in the West Bank in incidents related to the presence of Israeli settlements, while no Israeli children were killed in 2013. In the West Bank, four Palestinian boys were killed by live ammunition, including three during incursions by Israeli security forces into the Al Jalazun, Jenin and Ayda refugee camps. Incursions into camps have increased by 60 per cent compared with 2012. For example, on 7 December 2013, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by the Israel Defense Forces near Al Jalazun, allegedly while throwing stones at the soldiers. The Israeli authorities under the Military Advocate General opened investigations in all four cases, which were under review at the time of reporting. The 1,235 children injured in the West Bank constitute more than double the number injured in 2012 (552). Of the 1,235, 961 were injured during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians during demonstrations, 183 during military operations, including search and arrest operations in villages or camps, four as a result of unexploded ordnances, and 86 as a result of settler violence, which saw a significant increase during 2013. During settler-related incidents, 49 children were injured directly by Israeli settlers by physical assault and stones or glass bottles thrown against Palestinian houses or cars. Of the 1,235 children injured in the West Bank, 155 were under the age of 12. Eight Israeli children were injured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including as a result of stone throwing by Palestinians (seven) and, in one incident, live ammunition shot towards the Psagot settlement.”

CHILD INVOLVEMENT IN MILITANCY- ASSAM & MANPUR

On 3rd December, 2014 The Telegraph published a piece entitled, “Kids face the brunt in Assam, Manipur” that contained a study– Impact of Conflict on Children in Assam and Manipur–was conducted in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts in Assam and Imphal West and Tamenglong districts in Manipur. It found that children were being forced to join militant outfits, arrested by security forces on charges of being rebels, taking up arms out of curiosity or had lost their parents in insurgent attacks and were displaced. The study found minors were exposed to post-conflict trauma and many were falling prey to child traffickers — in violation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 and the United Nations Convention on Child Rights. It found that frequent strikes, protests and agitation left schools shut, thereby seriously affecting their education.

2014: ‘A DEVASTATING YEAR FOR CHILDREN’

2014 had come a long way from various killings in different parts of the World but what happened in Army Public School in Peshawar on the 16th December, 2014 left everybody aghast. The chilling massacre of 132 children by the Tehreek-e-Taliban aged between 8 and 18 years was atrocious in the strictest sense of the word. One took so long to believe that this actually happened. Though we’ve seen children die ruthlessly, in a climate awash with frenzy but those under the pretext of war or armed conflict but this was so sudden; so out of the blue.

The United Nations Children’s Fund calls 2014 a devastating year for children, reporting that as many as 15 million young people are caught in conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Ukraine. Among the grim statistics in a newly released UNICEF report: There are more than 1.7 million child refugees from the conflict in Syria, and 105 children have been killed in the more than 35 attacks on schools in that country. In the Central African Republic, as many as 10,000 children are believed to have been recruited by armed groups in the past year, and more than 430 have been killed or maimed. “Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds,” says UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “They have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves.”

INTERNATIONAL LAW RELATING TO THE PROTECTION OF CHILD RIGHTS

In the tsunami of conflicts brought by the American Imperialism under the pseudo-name of ‘War on Terror’, ‘Installing Democracies’, Development, Liberalization and so on and so forth International Law serves as a good constraint to safeguard the childhood. The violation of child right is violation of various International laws ranging from those of UN, International Humanitarian Law to International Labor Law and it is considered as war crime too. Under Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted in July 1998 and entered into force 1 July 2002; “Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities” is a war crime. Article 4.3.c of Protocol II, additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, adopted in 1977, states “children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities”. According to International Labour Organisation’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 forced or compulsory recruitment of anyone under the age of 18 for use in armed conflict, is considered as a form of slavery and worst form of child labour. International Law does not prohibit the prosecution of children who commit war crime but the punishment is limited. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” Although many laws exist and a lot more resolutions have been passed still the violation of child rights continue since there does not and cannot exist a sovereign enforcing body. So in order to deal with this problem the international community needs to use its bilateral and multilateral ties to pressurize those who murder the childhood. The pressure created by International community can only lead to the enforcement and adhering of the International Law. It is the entire humankind which has to awake to awaken the conscience of those who deprive the children of the spring of their life- The childhood.

Notwithstanding the notoriety of the American Imperialism and Neo-Liberalism in this regard, we seek to establish here that children across the Globe should be kept aloof from this climate of barbarism. We’re grooming a hateful generation filled with vengeance, rage, fear psychosis (in reasonable proportions) and the desire to exercise power on the other when given a chance. We are depriving this World of intellect and the craving for Justice for all. We’ve sought to redefine Justice, time and again, within the spectrum of the self. That selective dispensation of the words ‘Justice’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Equality’ has come to wreak havoc over the mindset of the younger generation.

We really need to shift the burden of this debate onto ourselves instead of stealing the lustrous smiles. The sooner we take this seriously, the better.

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