No to child soldiers
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 21: A day-long open discussion session held here today on the current issue related to recruitment of child soldiers by militant and its possible social implication has given a clarion call to all the militant groups supposedly fighting for the cause of independence of Manipur to respect the internationally accepted revolutionary principle and release all the child soldiers along with stop recruitment of child soldiers in future.

Organised jointly by Ethno Heritage Council (HERICOUN) and United People's Front (UPF) at Manipur Press Club here, the discussion session strongly condemned current trend in the State of kidnapping young children for recruitment as child soldiers by militants and detaining of two mothers who have gone to regain custody of their children.

All the speakers demanded release of all kidnapped children even as the worried family members broke down while recounting trauma they are going through.

After a serious deliberation on the issue, the open discussion session adopted various resolutions.

The resolutions include urging the militant groups not to recruit any child soldier even if they themselves are willing to join the armed revolutionary movement, and release all the child soldiers at once.

To the Government and its security forces, the session urged for taking up necessary measures for ensuring the rights of the children and protect them from any possible harm.

To the parents and the representatives of the respective local clubs and civil organisations, the session urged to treat children with love and care and take them into confidence.

The session also urged the PREPAK (VC) group to set free the two mothers from its custody soon.Earlier, participating in the discussion session, human rights activist AK Janaki categorically stated that all the armed groups operating in the State should not stand against the wishes of the mothers and think over again and again on the possible repercussion if the mothers started opposing them.

Asking the PREPAK (VC) group to release the two mothers in its custody at once, Janaki said if the mindset of the outfit is to take into custody mothers if it could not lay its hand on their children, then it can come forward and take into custody all the mothers in the State.

'Do long years of living in the jungle make you all immune to the relationship of mother and child and compassion towards young children?, an emotionally charged Janaki asked bitterly.

Recruitment of young children by the militant group should be stopped and released all of them to their respective family members at once, she demanded.

Advocate Abdul Kayum noted that the voice of the people against the current trend of kidnapping of young children for recruitment by militants has come out in the open and should be respected as the voice of the God itself.

Understanding the pulse of the people, the kidnapped children should be released, he also demanded.

Advocate Amomcha Araba said that all the armed outfits fighting for the cause of self-determination should try to win over the moral support, financial support and physical support of the people as no movement could be ever successful without these supports.

RK Bobicha pointed out that in the backdrop of the current trend of kidnapping children, parents and other elderly family members should teach their children what they are expected to do instead of fuelling fear and apprehension in their mind.

This would ensure proper mental and emotional development of the children, she noted, adding that not allowing them to go out and attend school would not help in solving the problem.