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Underage deceived recruitment by armed groups in combat zones: a form of trafficking of children in armed conflict situation

Underage deceived recruitment by armed groups in combat zones: a form of trafficking of children in armed conflict situation

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Apr 30, 2017 - 18:12

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The recruitment of children in Afghanistaninfo-icon’s ongoing conflict has declined, but not ended as young boys are still sent to the battlefield.

The recruitment of children in forces is another form of human trafficking which destroys their future.

Children are trained in terrorist activities at religious schools inside and outside of Afghanistan and then sent to the battlefield.

Seminaries which are not registered with the government are often involved in imparting anti-government training to pupils.

Pajhwok Afghan News talked to a boy, Abdul Haq, who the Talibaninfo-icon had prepared for carrying out a suicide attack, but he quit.

Haq, a resident of southern Ghazni province, said: “We were living in Deh Yak district. I was attending a madrasa there. I disliked school since childhood.”

He said Taliban militants would often come to their seminary and they would address students and provoke them against the government and foreign forces.

He said hundreds of children studied at the seminary in Deh Yak and the Taliban had urged all to join the fight against the government.

“The seminary was run in the village mosqueinfo-icon. The speeches of the Taliban deeply impacted me and I started thinking to pick up a gun, ride a bike and engage security forces face to face, but my parents did not allow me to go with the Taliban.”

Abdul Haq recalled the seminary students influenced by the emotional speeches would kiss guns with the Taliban to pay respect. “It felt too good to be in their (Taliban) service.”

Haq spent one year in the seminary in Deh Yak district and finally decided to ask a Taliban fighter for a gun. “Give me a gun, I want to fight,” he told the rebel fighter.

The now 17-year-old said the Taliban then gave him a gun and a cell phone which played Taliban’s songs.

“Someone told my family that Abdul Haq has joined the Taliban. My elder brother came to the seminary and saw the gun with me. The Taliban told me that now when I had picked up the gun, no one should stop me. That’s why I sent my brother home and I did not go with him.”

He fought alongside the Taliban for two years in Ghazni before going to Pakistaninfo-icon with the help of his comrades. He was admitted to a seminary in Panjpir, a town in Swabi district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

He spent five months in the seminary before being shifted Darul Uloom Haqqani for further studies. He said teachers of the seminary in Akora Khattak area would insist on jihadinfo-icon in Afghanistan the entire day. “The teachers would daily tell us that jihad is mandatory in Afghanistan because the Americans were there and because the Afghan government was infide.”

He claimed pupils at the Haqqani seminary were given military training and were prepared as suicide bombers. “We were shown videos in which Americans rape Afghan womeninfo-icon and behead innocent people. It would provoke us to carry out a suicide attack right now.”

Haq also made his mind to become a suicide bomber. “One day, I was called to a dark room where some men were sitting. They told if I want to go to the Heaven, if I want my family, relatives and friends to be proud of me, then go and carry out a suicide attack.”

Poised for the attack, Haq said he was given a milk-like syrup and was told to use the medicine until he carried out the suicide attack. “I was given the medicine and told to go home in Ghazni and spend some days with family. I was told to go Zan Khan district from home and contact a person named Mubariz there.”

Haq returned home and told his family that he had gone to Pakistan for religious educationinfo-icon. At home, he would use the medicine every day. But his body started aching after the syrup had finished. Then he decided to go to Zan Khan district and meet Mubariz, but his family did not allow him to go to Zan Khan because they had realized him plan.

Haq said his brother took him to hospital and after treatment he felt well. He said now he was very happy that he had not committed the atrocity. However, he said had risked the wrath of Taliban. He said the Taliban were searching for him and would kill him if captured.

To a question, he said, he could not trust the government as well. He said he had many times sent elders to the Taliban to ask them to pardon him and the rebels had promised they would not harm him, but he was skeptical. Abdul Haq said his brother was in Dubai and he also wanted to go the UAE for work.

Thousands of youth like Abdul Haq have been lured from home to the war with promises of reward in this worldinfo-icon and hereafter during the past 15 years.

Unregistered seminaries

Deputy Haj and Auqaf Minister Daiul Haq Abid said there were a total of 160000 seminaries and mosques across the country and of the seminaries, 49000 were registered with the ministry.

He said terrorism and extremism was imported to Afghanistan and it was possible some seminaries in remote parts were involved in promoting terrorism but the issue had not been noticed in government controlled areas.

Abid said two departments had been created to work for prevention of seminary students from indulging in terrorist learning. He said an institute had been established for prayer leaders. He said imams were trained at the institute before being appointed at mosques. “This is very important for dealing with extremist ideology. He said Islamic scholars of the world had declared suicide attacks illegitimate.

Justice Ministry

Justice Ministry official Abdul Majeed Ghanizada said the law of officers and sergeants banned the recruitment of persons below the legal age of 18 years. He said if someone found guilty of recruiting underage individuals, he/she could face jail sentence from six months to one year.

He said the parliament had also approved a draft law to ban the recruitment of child soldiers in the security institutions of the country. The draft law, consisting of seven articles, was approved in November 2014.

Ministry of Interior denies underage recruits in police and army ranks

MoI acting spokesman Najibullah Danish said underage recruits had been removed from the police and military ranks two years ago. He said ID card, education certificates and physical appearance of a recruit was being checked by experts as part of the recruitment process.

There are no underage recruits in our ranks, say Taliban

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Taliban’s policies and laws banned the recruitment of child soldiers.

“No one is allowed to recruit children because it creates moral issues. We don’t let persons whose beard is not grown enter our ranks.”

In its 2016 report, the Human Rights Watch organization had accused the Taliban of recruiting child soldiers in their ranks.

A 2015 survey by an international organization found child recruits in the Afghan forces, especially in the local police force in Uruzgan, Kunar, Kunduz, Kabul, Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces.

The survey also claimed a number of security forces commanders sexually abused child recruits and called the Afghan government’s efforts in this regard as insufficient.

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