“The death there was everywhere. We had to kill because we didn’t want to die and we did it for fun as well. We killed our mates too. If somebody couldn’t to march longer, was exhausted or was ill we shot his head…If somebody came to us we shot without thinking. Especially if he was young, even if he was a civil...” – told about his “heroism” Jean-Stephane Sauvaire, a child soldier in the Johny Mad Dog movie.
It is estimated that there are 300 thousand children around the world in various militias, guerrilla organizations, military units, private armies or members of government or of the opposition in military service, every second of them is in black African countries. However the expression ‘child soldier‘ not only concerns these fighters, spies, porters or heralds, but concerns sexual slavers as well who ‘amuse’ the adult fighters. The average age of the child soldiers in Africa is 13 years old, which means that some of them already take up gun at the age of eight or ten.
Why children? The reasons are shocking. Economical because of the cheap fed, satisfied with a Chinese-made AK-47 as an equipment (in Uganda is the price of a chicken), also satisfied with an uniform which the adults wear out and some narotic drugs or some loose cash are enough as soldier’s pay for them. At the same time, however, the child soldiers are real killers, because most of them think the war is a normal state and it’s only a game. They accustomed to the everydays violence. In these African countries the life isn’t more important than in a video game or in a movie. Their cruelty is increases by the drugs. The bloodiest years of the Sierra Leone Civil War such ‘young monsters’ fought through who became real bloodthirsty by the also known brown-brown which is a mixture of heroin and gunpowder or they got ‘busta’ drug from mixture of gin, heroin and water. During the military operations these children almost without thinking obeyed the commands of their leader. The deserters or cowards who disobedient are killed ruthlessly by their mates, while the most courageous had possibilities to pillage more than the others. Their leader who was the magician and the drug dealer of the group gave to them ‘shoot-proof talisman’ and drugs to increase their courage.
Although many international organizations working to help integrate the freed child soldiers back into society, but in practice this is rarely successful. These children because of the accumulated horrors and stress will be aggressive and deviant. Most of them return to the drugs to drive away their nightmares. And because of the society sometimes doesn’t accept them they become criminal or victims of prostitution. The hyperactivity, the depression and the apathy are typical of them. In addition these child soldiers because of their experience of handling of weapons are valuable in the eyes of the rebel groups, so no wonder that sometimes they forced to fight again.
It should be added, however the child soldiers aren’t only African occurrence. For example the territory of the ancient Palestine in the Middle-East was mention as country of Canaan by the story writers, but since 1947 because of the regional conflicts, wars and religious fanaticism this area became to hell. Extremist Islamists teach already children of kindergarten age to hatred with ideological educations. Important to know that the Islamism isn’t same with the Islam! The Islam is a religion and a civilization, but the Islamism is a political category. Followers of Islamism fundamentalist are susceptible to racial hatred and they don’t shy away from acts of violence when they spread their ideologies.
In many countries is a huge dilemma and legal problems to establish that the child soldiers are victims or rather executioners. These children have been kidnapped, got drugs, morally and physically abused. Because of these horrors they become victims. But when they keep a weapon in their hand again and they notice a target they become killer monsters…
Written by Ilona Kaszanyi