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“Rebels Forced Child Soldiers to Kill Family”

Posted April. 18, 2008 03:21,   


“I didn’t eat anything for three days. When the rebels asked us who would be the food, I thought they were just kidding. However, they really killed a girl, cooked the human flesh and forced us to eat it.” (A 13-year-old girl)

“When they made a wound in my neck and put herbs, I felt dizzy. Since then, I didn’t want to go back home. I just wanted to feel the high again. Whenever I smoked cigars made of herbs, I didn’t feel any sense of guilt about killing people.” (A 17-year-old boy)

The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, consisting of six human rights organizations including Amnesty International, released a report on its Web site to let the people know the bitter experience of children who were kidnapped by Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and later released. The LRA led by Joseph Kony has kidnapped 25,000 children and still has around 1,000-3,000 children hostages.

The human rights coalition interviewed 116 former child soldiers who were released after abduction in 2003 and explained how they felt and what aftereffects they have suffered in the report.

Child soldiers were exposed to the rebels’ serious violence immediately after they were kidnapped. Worse, girls were sexually abused. Rebels sent child soldiers to the war against the government, forced them to make food and go down to the village and collect information. They also taught children military drill and how to use weapons. Moreover, they forced children to kill other child soldiers. Interviewees remembered that they had moved for several days with heavy luggage and been beaten with no good reason.

Rebels attacked villages and compelled children to slay their own family members. A girl confessed, “I said no to their order to kill my grandfather. They beat me mercilessly and kill my grandfather themselves.”

Diplomatic journal Foreign Policy recently cited the Bible and picked rebel leader Kony, who kidnapped children and forced them to kill their families, as one of the world’s five worst religious leaders.

The report said that many child soldiers who had horrible and shocking experience had difficulties enjoying everyday lives even after they were released. Lots of them were left out in the cold by classmates, and suffered from emotional instability, impulse to commit suicide and nightmares. They frequently turned violent due to failure to control their emotions. Worse, some interviewees answered that they desired to return to the rebels. The report said, “Older child solders have more serious problems.”

The report said that 86 percent of the interviewees had health problems since they had been exposed to violence and sexual abuse. Some 13 percent of the respondents turned out to have some serious health problems because bullets in their bodies had not been removed in time or they had not been treated well despite serious brain damage resulting from merciless beating.