Transcript Document

Child Soldiers
Issues in Global Literature—Intermediate
1861 US Civil War
Historical Tradition
1914 WWI
1964 Vietnam War
1846 Mexican American War
1967 Cambodia
1918 Russian Civil War
1943 Hitler Youth in Nuremburg
Contemporary Crisis
• recent
United Nations estimation:
250,000 child soldiers worldwide
• current Amnesty International count:
over 300,000 child soldiers
• in more than 85 countries
• both boys & girls
• ages 8 to 18
A Global Issue
Sri Lanka
“The Perfect Weapon”
adults can resist warlords; children can’t
available in great numbers
easily manipulated
intensely loyal
• Recruited
– propaganda
– poverty
• Abducted
– kidnapped from families
– taken from orphanages
• Forced to serve
– Uganda: Lord’s Resistance Army
teaches child soldiers to burn
huts and beat infants to death
– Iran: child soldiers used to
clear mine fields in 1980s
– Palestine: children from the
West Bank & Gaza used
"No one is born violent. No child in Africa,
as suicide bombers
Latin America, or Asia wants to be part of war.”
— Ishmael Beah at a Paris conference,
author of A Long Way Gone
Some Volunteer
• promise of safety
• sense of community
• motivated by poverty & hunger
Trained to Kill
Child soldiers being
trained in Thailand
Fighting Adult Causes
(Sometimes not knowing why)
End of colonial rule
Freedom challenged
Criminal drives
by warlords
– resources
– greed
– power
"There might have been a little rhetoric at the beginning,
but very quickly the ideology gets lost, and then
it just becomes a bloodbath ... a war of madness.” — Ishmael Beah
Bound by Belief
• commanders conjure spirits
• magic & superstition
• oils & amulets
"The commanders
would wear certain
pearls and said that
guns wouldn't hurt us,
and we believed it.''
— Beah
In the Congo, leaders told boys that if they
ate their victims they would grow stronger.
Intimidated by Fear
extreme punishments
death for desertion
rejection upon return
orphaned, homeless
no where else to go
"These are brutally thuggy people who
don't want to rule politically and have no
strategy for winning a war.''
— Professor Neil Boothby
Columbia University
Weakened by Deprivation
separated from families
denied educational opportunities
denied health care
denied a childhood
Fueled by
Drug Use
• amphetamines
• marijuana
• “brown brown”
(cocaine and gunpowder)
“I shot at everything that moved.”
— Beah
Drawing by former child soldier
Ishamel A. Kamara, age 18.
in Abuse
mental & emotional
15-year-old soldier with
her infant in Liberia
Rebels called the
amputation of just
four fingers “one
love” after the
rastafarian phrase
“thumbs up.”
There are more than 6,000
amputees in Sierra Leone
as a result of civil war.
Former Liberian leader,
Charles Taylor, is accused
of backing a rebel group
that cut off limbs, mutilated
and raped thousands of
civilians in Sierra Leone.
Human Rights Groups’ Efforts
restore children to their families when possible
return to former communities
Children at a mission school in Africa
enroll in schools
place in homes
“It's ridiculous to appeal to
human rights with these groups
because they are so far on the
criminal end of the spectrum.”
— Victoria Forbes Adam
Coalition to Stop the Use
of Child Soldiers
United Nations Involvement
• UN passed protocols:
no combatants under age 18
• US, UK, and other countries
have not signed UN agreement
– US allows 17 (parental consent)
– UK allows 16
• UN military personnel:
peace keeping
Rescue, Rehabilitation & Hope
Above: Maxwell Fornah and Victor Musa,
members of the Single Leg Amputee Sports
Club of Sierra Leone, Freetown April 2006.
Small Group Discussion
1. What examples in US culture could you
compare to the experience of child
soldiers abroad?
2. What similarities do you see between
your examples and child soldiers?
3. What differences do you see?