Target: President of Syria Bashar al-Assad
Goal: Stop recruiting child soldiers for the war effort in Syria
The Syrian government is recruiting children as young as 15 years old to fight for the war effort, tricking them into believing that they will get a free education. These children have been used in support roles and even as suicide bombers. This atrocious mistreatment of children needs to stop, and all children who are younger than 18 must be released from the government immediately.
One extremist Islamic group, Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), has recruited children through educational campaigns that includes weapons training and suicide bombing missions. Human Rights Watch documented 25 child soldiers during Syria’s conflict. These children fought with the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front Coalition, Jabhat al-Nursa, along with military personnel in Kurdish-controlled regions. Recruiting child soldiers is in violation of international law, and presents an ethical dilemma.
The exact number of child soldiers used in the Syrian conflict is unknown, but a Syrian monitoring group found 194 dead “non-civilian” male children since September 2011. Children that were interviewed by Human Rights Watch were snipers, operated checkpoints, moved weaponry and ammunition during combat, and treated the wounded. Reasons for joining the conflict varied from following their relatives or friends, or living in the war zone with no other opportunities. Others suffered from government forces and wanted revenge. Children who joined the war effort were often abused and bullied by their superiors.
This heinous treatment of children needs to stop. Children should be in school or removed from the war zone, not forced to be a part of an armed conflict. By signing this petition, you will be reminding the President of Syria that using child soldiers is against international law and they should be released at once.
Dear President Bashar al-Assad,
Your country’s use of child soldiers has captured the attention of the world, and such treatment violates international law and presents an ethical issue. Children shouldn’t be used in a war effort, and they should never be on the front lines. Children should be in school or removed from the conflict entirely. They are not as developed as adults, and thus cannot fully process what is happening around them. Syria is exploiting children and this cruel treatment needs to end.
I am writing this letter to demand the immediate release of all soldiers under the age of 18. The rank, occupation, or gender of the soldiers does not matter—all child soldiers need to be released. These children should also be taken to a safe place where they will not face the horrors of war, and be given the chance to have a happy future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bertilvidet via Wikimedia Commons