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E-Pao! Opinions - Reflections of Children in Armed Conflict

Reflections of Children in Armed Conflict
By: Loya Maisnam *


"The question of children and arm conflict is an integral part of the united nation's core responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, for the advancement of human rights and for sustainable human development"
Secretary General Kofi Annan in the speech to the Security Council, 26 July 2000

Before we come to the rights of the children and, children and armed conflict in the region, there is a keen analysis that we should have to go forward in advance by sympathizing and make preventing our children from armed conflict. It is not, that children of the younger generation of the region are flooded only with glamour, drugs and strange activities, succeed from their less responsible guardians or parents but also need to forecast the uncertain ability of the end of children of the region in armed conflict. Economically backwardness, militarization and conflicts in the region is a clear gateway which may born conditionally children as soldiers. No doubt, the number of children under the age of 18 who have been coerced or induced to take up arms as child soldiers is generally thought to be in the range of 300,000.(U.N. Millennium Report, 2000). In the previous years in the state many research scholars has began their works against the discrimination of childhood and children and armed conflict. Undoubtedly, it is clear and a succeeding series that in the region here we gave birth our children within the inalienable armed conflict. Though, an exact data of the children in armed conflict has neither forecast nor a considerable report is enclosed by the ruling powers of the state, a widespread and a large scale individuals of the war torn states around the world has alarming a global alertness to be prevent our children from armed conflict. We can't less forget the children around the world remarkably gone through the war and conflicts by bestowing a dark and deep younger generation. Here drawing vital statistics in according to United Nations' report:

  • The number of children under the age of 18 who have been coerce or induced to take up arms as child soldiers is generally thought to be in the range of 300,000.
  • Most soldiers under 15 are found in non-governmental military organization.
  • Most child soldiers under 18 have been recruited in governmental armed forces.
  • The youngest child soldiers are about 7 years old.
  • An optional protocol prohibiting the recruitment or used of children as soldiers was completed and open for signature and rectification by all states in June 2000.
  • Over 50 countries currently recruit children under age 18 into their armed forces. It clearly encompasses the forthcoming doom in our less known conflict zone area. Forgetting or neglecting our lamented voiceless cry in the national and international dais would mean a severe and less responsible state in the future to come. We are just wept for a greater cause and against psychological hegemony and political homicides. We all are the same blood, brought up in a leg less cradle and genocidal political turmoil. It would be a shameful portray if we disregard, our decades old militarized prone state. Our peace civil society has sink beneath the legitimate militarization as in the form of political expansion.

For the North Eastern, it is a very interesting that like Naga Mothers' Association (NMA) based in Kohima, initiated in 1984, attempting to serve as an agency for Naga women's concerns; their stated goal was 'to fight against social evils prevailing in the state' (Militarism & Women in South Asia, p.133, Anuradha M. Chenoy) woke uninterruptly towards human integrity and for a peaceful Naga society. Naga Women's Association also primarily concerned with the militarization of children and youth, and 'reports revealed that how guns and shooting are the favourite sport of children in village like Ukhrul, (Manipur)' that have under the draconian act, Armed Forces Act. (M.W.S.A. p.134) "Children and the lightless of the youth has been denied to this generation" said an NMA activist in an instant interview of human rights in the region. It is not only NMA that led voices, but many mothers (referring to usual women) rose irresistibly in the state in the form of Nisha Bandee (alcoholism and drugs trafficker) and Meira Paibee (torch barrier) succeeding a series, which is currently active in the state. These women actively well organized in the valley areas. Their main current objective is to prevent the youth from homicidal militarization and from foreign domination and intervention. Moreover they are concerning the violation of the human rights, harassment, rape, sodomization and humiliating tortures. Indeed, Meira Paibees takes a more responsible role as voluntary non-governmental in Manipur. It is not only a history, to be tribute occasionally, the unforgettable Nupi Lan (women war) of early 1910s against British's imperial expansionism. It is the same topic, we are undergo, women's contribution in instituting our Manipur in international platform.

It is a collective remarkable that we can't ignore, the report revealed that "there are child soldiers in every insurgent group in Manipur, including, apparently, children under 15 years of age. The lowest age recorded is 11 years. It is estimated that the number of child soldiers is between 6,000 and 7,500, which is equivalent to around 50% of the total group membership. It is further claimed that the recent trend is to induct more and more girls into insurgency movement in order to avoid suspicion on the hard core activists. The number of girl soldiers is said to be between 900 and 1,000, i.e. 6-7% of child soldiers. (CSUCS, Asia Report, July 2000, Radda Barnen).

And, not only in Manipur which child soldiers are infinitely wake up, making a new global alertness but also in many bordering states and in Jammu & Kashmir. The toll for children and armed conflict has rises remarkably since early 90s. The report sharply probed to the Asia-Pacific conference on the Used of Children as Soldiers reported 28 children arrested or injured and 10 children killed in Manipur between January and May 2000. (Global Report on Child Soldiers-2001 citing Radda Barnen, Children of Wars Newsletter, 2/00) Let us conclude how do children become soldiers? In 1996, in a special report on the impact of armed conflict on children, Mrs. Graca Machel explain how children become soldiers: "Hunger and poverty may drive parents to offer children for service or attract children to volunteer as a way to guarantee regular meals, clothing or medical attention. Some children become soldiers to protect themselves or their families in the face of violence and chaos around them, while others, particularly adolescents, are lured by ideology. Children also identify with social causes, religious expressions, self-determination, national liberation or the pursuit of political freedom, as in South Africa or the occupied territories". The report also made an indispensable landmark since 1990s in many killing field of the regions of the world. This is a rough figure effected the children; Killed- 2,000,000, Disabled-4-5, 000,000, Left homeless-12, 000,000, Psychologically traumatized-10, 000,000 and Orphaned (or separated from their parents)- 1,000,000 (Source: UNICEF).

Convention for the protection, to ban the recruitment of children in wartime and to protect the war affected children, have been made in progress by United Nations. Many Optional Protocols have also been made to ban recruit of children in war and to protect them from armed conflict. In the latest, United Nations Security Council's General Assembly Fifty-eight session passed an Agenda item 113, for Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Children. In Manipur, the situation is not in a stage of children in armed conflict (rated by U.N.) but we can't seldom focus our views to children in armed conflict. It is a ripe time for all the people of the region to aware the less known conflict zone, and the less negligible recruits of children by paramilitary forces and the dissident groups. They are the children of tomorrow, the children who will perform our ancestral rites and cultural bonding, by bridging our fractured cognates of our same blood. In this regards, we are better remind the Security Council's Fifty-eight session's Paragraph 58: "in Northern Ireland, though the situation is not an armed conflict within the meaning of Geneva Convention and the Additional Protocols thereto, since the visit of my special representatives in 2000 and 2001, attempts have been made to obtain commitments from the armed groups to refrain from recruiting or using children. Continuing competitive recruitment of young people by paramilitary groups has been reported in the context of various feuds and the emergence of dissident groups".




* Loya Maisnam, a Freelance Journalist with an Imphal based Vernacular Daily (Kangla-Pao) writes for the first time for e-pao.net. He can be contacted at donndrangheta@yahoo.co.uk


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