Press TV | February 4, 2016
Human rights groups have denounced the use of child soldiers in Afghanistan, after the recent murder of a pre-teen boy by the Taliban militants in the southern part of the country.
Wasil Ahmad rose to fame for fighting the Taliban alongside his uncle and other fighters to break a siege in his home province of Uruzgan in summer 2015. He was declared a hero by Kabul and his pictures in a helmet and a uniform holding an automatic weapon were widely circulated on social media.
The Taliban militants shot and killed him on February 1, when he was going to school near his home in Tirin Kot, Uruzgan’s volatile capital.
The 10-year-old took up arms with his uncle Mullah Abdul Samad, a former Taliban commander who had later joined the government, after the Taliban killed his father and then injured Samad.
“It’s such an appalling, tragic case,” said Patricia Gossman, who is a senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch, adding, “There were two crimes in this case: that he was killed, and that a child his age was fighting at all.”
Rafiullah Baidar, a spokesman for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, also blamed both the government and the Taliban for Ahmad’s death, saying, “One side made him a hero and the other side killed him. Both sides ignored the law and acted illegally.”
“Possibly he took up arms to take revenge for his father’s death, but it was illegal for the police to declare him a hero and reveal his identity, especially to the insurgents,” Baidar added.
Rights groups have been warning for a long time that child recruitment is prevalent in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the practice is illegal in the war-ravaged country.
According to the charity Child Soldiers International, both government forces and militants have been recruiting minors for years.
The organization’s policy and advocacy director Charu Lata Hogg said the reasons behind the issue are a lack of political will and insufficient measures.
A mix of patriotism, poverty, honor and filial duty has been the driving force behind the recruitment of minors, based on a 2015 report presented to the UN Security Council.
The Taliban also use children as spies and bombers.