No more child soldiers as tools of war!
Today, February 12, marks the International Day against the use of Child Soldiers, a date to remember the children that are recruited every day to participate in armed conflicts. In Guatemala, the date is little known, but after the story, sad memories remain in children who were used in the Internal Armed Conflict.
The Historical Clarification Commission, established that in Guatemala, was in the army where the largest number of youth participated during the Internal Armed Conflict, due to forced recruitment. This impeded their education, imposed adult obligations and forged personalities with a military mentality that impacted their spiritual and intellectual development.
In addition to the Army, the forced recruitment also occurred on behalf of the Civil Self-Defense Patrols (PAC), paramilitary groups created by the government to involve the civilian population in military service, coordinated by the Guatemalan army.
The existence of child warriors emphasizes that: “they were implicated in the struggle as a way to save their lives, after losing their families in the massacres or during the scorched earth campaigns. However, to live in the mountains meant adopting the guerilla as their family, with all the risks that it involved, and they had to submit to the military rigors that ruled the guerrilla camps.
UNICEF calculates that as many as 300,000 children worldwide participate in armed groups with different functions, as combatants, cooks, porters, messengers, spies, or for sexual uses. This recruitment is illegal and represents a serious violation of children’s rights.
We need to create a world where children can grow safe and happy, far from any threat, and of course without being used for military or other such purposes that can affect their normal growth and development. No more child soldiers as tools of war!
Cover photo: Edson Lozano