Human Rights Watch accuses Kurdish People's Protection Units of recruiting child soldiers
Turkey - SMART
The Human Rights Watch accused the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) of recruiting children, including displaced ones from camps, as soldiers in the YPG military operations, despite that the YPG pledged earlier to stop this practice.
In a statement published on Friday, the human rights organization said that the last reports obtained by the United Nations showed an "obvious and concerning increase in the number of child soldiers used by the YPG over the last year," including children from camps of displaced families.
Priyanka Motaparthy, a senior researcher in the Emergencies division of Human Rights Watch, said that the YPG is still recruiting children, despite their pledging to stop this practice, adding that the YPG works on recruiting children without the knowledge of their "vulnerable" families, what was more horrible than usual, according to Motaparthy.
The United Nations said that over 2017, the YPG used more than 224 child soldiers, a third of them were females; a number that was five times larger than last year's. The Human Rights Watch emphasized that the International Law prohibits recruiting children under 18 years of age, as recruiting children under the age of 15 is considered a war crime.
The statement included that the Asayish forces of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration (Rojova) took the children to training camps without the consent of their families, refusing to reveal the children's whereabouts and preventing the families from contacting their children.
The statement also included that the Rojova informed the Human Rights Watch that they approve of recruiting 16 and 17-year-old children without the consent of their families, stressing that these children do not participate in a battle. The Rojova added that the female child soldiers in the training camps came to the Rojova to protect themselves from early marriages, harassment, and rape, and this is what made the Kurdish Women's Protection Units to protect and give the girls shelter.
In November 2017, Turkey's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Feridun Sinirlioglu, accused the Kurdish Union Party, which is the political hand of the YPG, of recruiting children under 15 years old to perform "terrorist" attacks, during an open session of the UN's Security Council regarding children during armed conflict.
In a statement published in January 2017, Human Rights Watch said that the YPG did not commit to discharging child soldiers and ending the practice of recruiting children under the age of 18. Human Rights Watch expressed a concern that the YPG would form a non-fighting squad of children between 17 and 18 years old.