Target: Masoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan
Goal: Work to prevent the deployment of child soldiers in the fight against the ISIS.
Many of the forces fighting ISIS in Iraq have allegedly deployed child soldiers. Human Rights Watch documented 29 cases of children fighting against ISIS in Iraq in a number of Yazidi and Kurdish militias. While these children reportedly volunteered to fight, recruiting and deploying child soldiers is illegal under international law. Letting children under the age of 15 join military or paramilitary forces is a war crime. In at least one case, a 13-year-old was beaten by other members of the militia after she argued with the commanding officer and deserted her post.
Though the trauma of war has a severe impact on children, there are few psychological resources for these children after they leave combat. Furthermore, most do not return to school. This means that they have few job prospects and fewer opportunities to build skills. Sign our petition and demand an end to the deployment of child soldiers in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Dear President Barzani,
I was alarmed to hear reports of children fighting on the front lines against ISIS. While I recognize many teenagers may volunteer to fight after forces liberate their lands from ISIS, the recruitment of child soldiers remains illegal under international law and the recruitment of children under the age of 15 is a war crime. I urge you to ensure that children do not fight on the front lines against ISIS.
Additionally, while I recognize that the conflict has resulted in the displacement of 100,000 children, the future of the children of the region depends on them experiencing as little disruption to their educations as possible. This may require psychological counseling for children traumatized by the conflict. I urge you to do everything in your power to minimize the disruption in education and access to psychological support.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Africa Metro