Dec 1 2007
10:13 am

"Often recruited or abducted to join armies, many of these children - some younger than 10 years old - have witnessed or taken part in acts of unbelievable violence, often against their own families or communities. Such children are exposed to the worst dangers and the most horrible suffering, both psychological and physical. What is more, they are easily manipulated and encouraged to commit grievous acts, which they are often unable to comprehend. Many girl soldiers are expected to provide sexual services as well as to fight."

Imagine being a kid swept up in the nightmare of war and atrocities! It is almost unimaginable to me. Amnesty International and other organizations have been trying to help save and rehabilitate child soldiers; documentaries have been shown about them, and they are hard to watch because these kids tell stories of brutality that leave you feeling stunned. Who would do this to little kids? What young kid could ever resist being compliant, even though they know the men who recruit them have done terrible things to their families?

One such child was Omar Amed Khadr. Caught by us when he was 15 years old and sent to Guatanamo Bay. He will soon go to trial, but there is little sympathy for him. No recognition that he was a child-soldier.

"Most witnesses in Mr. Khadr’s case are expected to be military personnel who took part in a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan when an American special forces soldier, Sgt. First Class Christopher James Speer, 28, was fatally wounded. Mr. Khadr, who was 15 at the time, was badly injured."

15 years old? Instead of realizing this boy was a child soldier, our government is trying him in a secret trial where he will be treated as an adult solider and without what some regard as due process of law.

It seems so hypocritical for us to be supporting agencies involved in trying to help child-soldiers globally, while giving this one the harshest treatment possible.

Child-soldiers do terrible things, but the rehabilition programs can help them survive the brainwashing or psychological abuse they suffered. Most of these kids really are victims who deserve another chance at life. They at least deserve a fair trial.

Russ's picture

Child soldiers

This is an ongoing atrocity in several places around the world. The "Lord's Resistance Army" has been waging a civil war in Uganda for twenty years now, and the forced use of child soldiers has been one of their favored tactics (see here, and especially the "Effects" and "Night Commuters" sections).

These children are abducted and forced to fight in these armies, often being told that their families will be murdered if they refuse to fight. These are not idle threats, either -- many rescued children have reported escaping, having their families slaughtered before their eyes, and then being abducted again. Their lives are horrors we can barely imagine, so to have the US government trying one of them from Afghanistan as if he were some sort of Al Qaeda mastermind is beyond Kafkaesque.


Carole Borges's picture

That's really horrific history

"Killing a family member" really gives me the chills. I was so sick over the Rwanda conflict. I taught my class about that one once. I was afraid they were going to fire me. The high schoolers were impacted in a big way. They had no idea how sick some people can be. The pictures of the kids who had their lips and hands cut off so they couldn't pray, seemed especially evil. I'm not all that religious, but the affront of that sickened me. Kafkaesque is the right word. Things sometimes just make no sense.

Average Guy's picture

Look closer to home

What kind of society would make it a priority to indoctrinate kids to be war mongers? ; (link...)

Yeah, it's Uganda that has the problems.

Carole Borges's picture

Those camps are definitely scary

The worst part is seeing how deeply these kids swallow the follower role. I guess it wasn't much different for kids in the qhacko Mormon cults. I have nohting at all against normal Mormons becvause I have known some, but forcing young girls to marry ugly old guys is awful. You're right, we don;t have to look overseas to see children being abused. To try this kid like we're doing is so unfair.

Sarge's picture

Hell, my granddaughter is

Hell, my granddaughter is all of eleven years old and is constantly getting mail from the United States Air Force, United States Marine Corp, and the United States Army.

Carole Borges's picture

I hope that is a joke Sarge...

Kids that age shouldn't be exposed to violence, even though it does seem like "the American way" these days if you watch the media. I wonder what people would say if peace organizations were soliciting their children?

Hammersmith's picture

They are like pit bulls...

they should not be put up for adoption.

Wonder why they call it the "infantry?"
That arm of the ancient military organizations was made up of kids.

Or so I read.

Average Guy's picture

Kids are like pit bulls?

Wonder why they call it the "infantry?"

Wonder why they prayed to Zeus? What's your point?

Carole Borges's picture

Not as if saying children but like "come heah boy"?

The New English Dictionary suggests that a foot-soldier, being in feudal and early modern times the varlet or follower of a mounted noble, was called a boy (cf. Knabe, garcon, footman, &c., and see Valet). (link...)

Using boy as a diminutive term has always been common. For instance, stable "boys" can be 80 years old.

There was a one crusade that was called "the Children's Crusade". It was an awful thing.

Hammersmith's picture

yes, but they were boys..children, boys, mostly

the knights were older and were men

but who really cares about these godforsaken people. they have made their own hell.

Carole Borges's picture

There weren't too many "old" people in the old days...

Everyone died young.

but who really cares about these godforsaken people. they have made their own hell.

Millions of people care and many are putting their lives on the line to help child soldiers. They certainly are not godforsaken. What kind of God would that be? They are forsaken by people who have the power to help them but don't.

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