Kabul: Taliban`s return to power raised fears among Afghans that they will forcibly recruit youngsters to groom them for terror activities.
The United Nations has already raised the issue. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged the Human Rights Council to take bold actions after the Taliban`s return to power raised fears over brutal rule previously enforced when they were in power, reported International Forum for Right and Security (IFFRAS).
Under the Taliban`s previous regime, thousands of Afghans under the age of 18 were enrolled in terrorist groups, the recruitment process forced than voluntary.
Human rights bodies reported at that time: “They were first `brain washed`, then given training on the handling of weapons, and finally sent to war. Certain children, barely 6 years of age, were even used as child suicide bombers.”
The United Nations tried to retaliate by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994 that made such recruitment illegal.
The Taliban never bothered to respect the convention. And the fear in the country today is that the Taliban may once again conscript children forcibly.
Given their links with Islamist terrorist groups, the ordinary Afghans do not rule out the possibility of the children being shared by them all, wrote IFFRAS.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that the Taliban began to force children into their ranks in 2015. They simply took children from their homes, raised them in military-style camps, trained them in operations and used them for various exercises including armed attacks. There have been cases where children were used to planting improvised explosive devices (IED) or used as suicide bombers.
The HRW study reported way back in 2016 on the basis of information from the ground: “In Kunduz province, the Taliban have increasingly used madrasas, or Islamic religious schools, to provide military training to children between the ages of 13 and 17, many of whom have been deployed in combat.
The report said the Taliban “recruit and train children in age-specific” stages. The first stage begins when boys are as young as six. Their indoctrination begins with the “study (of) religious subjects under Taliban teachers for up to seven years”.
In the next stage, when the boys are around 13, “Taliban-educated children have learned military skills including use of firearms, and the production and deployment of IEDs”. In the final stage, “Taliban teachers then introduce those trained child soldiers to specific Taliban groups”, reported IFFRAS.
Taliban began to expand its base and operations in 2015, it felt the need to recruit more soldiers. That is when the recruitment of children began in large numbers. They targeted children because it was easier to convince them of the “righteousness of jihad`, whether they understood it or not.
It is said the Taliban training camps or madarasas for children were mostly located in Kunduz province, particularly in Chahardara and Dasht-e-Archi districts, reported IFFRAS.