PKK/YPG TERRORIST ORGANIZATION’S ACTS OF CHILD ABUSE
PKK/YPG terrorist organization has long been abusing the children living in the territories under its control in Syria. Detaining and exploiting minors, the PKK/YPG does not hesitate to abuse children under 15-16 years of age. These children, who are forced to live in the camps, where all kinds of disease looms around, are faced with malnutrition and poor health standards and go through very rough days. That is why many of them either attempt suicide or flee. If they do not choose to do so, they die in armed conflicts. Even the dead bodies of these innocent individuals, who are denied any contact with their families, are not handed over to their relatives.
Rough Training Process for Children
Syrian children are either deceived by the PKK/YPG-run Revolutionary Youth (Ciwanen Soresger) under “compulsory military service” or are abducted for military and ideological training. The children are held in various different places, including the camps in Qandil and Sinjar areas of Iraq.
The organization registers these children under different names and identities to avoid international disclosure of their practices.
Families Yearning to Unite with their Children
These practices of the PKK/KCK over children, draws a huge reaction from families living in the area. However, the organization’s response to the families, who try to get their children back through protests and demonstrations, is one involving violence.
Families continue to demonstrate to be notified of the places their children are being held and ensure that they are safely returned back to them. Families hold these demonstrations through international organizations.
How International Law Views Child Soldiers
Universal definition of child rights is the protection of the rights of all children to education, health, survival and housing and against any kind of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Today, child rights remain secured through UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and various other international norms. Crimes committed against children are an inseparable part of crimes against humanity.
Despite all the international norms about child rights, the PKK/YPG has been seeking ways to recruit minors for long years. Especially in recent years,
with the decrease in the number of volunteer recruits, PKK/YPG has stepped up its efforts to recruit child soldiers as they are easier to deceive and intimidate.
According to security data, 40% of rural PKK/YPG cadres consist of children under 18, with 10% of them being under the age of 15. The average age of children within PKK/YPG ranks has been declared as 15.
Status of Children Despite the UN Protocol
Despite ratification of a protocol in June 2019 between UN officials and PYD/YPG-SDF executive Ferhat Abdi SAHIN (code name Mazloum Kobani) on “the Release of Child Soldiers and Banning Their Use in Armed Conflicts”, the organization continues to exploit children soldiers in the very front lines. Aiming to receive mercy and compassion of the international community, the organization does not hesitate to make propaganda over the dead bodies of those, who have lost their lives in the conflicts.
The Whole World is Upset about This
In her article titled “Child Recruitment Casts Shadow over Syrian Kurds’ Push for Global Legitimacy”, US-based media organ Al-Monitor’s correspondent Amberin ZAMAN refers to the families’ criticisms of the PKK/YPG for abducting their children in Syria while stating that Ferhat Abdi SAHIN(code name Mazloum Kobani) failed to do his part on the matter. The article states that minors are still forcefully held within PKK/YPG ranks despite the protocol signed between the UN and the organization in 2019.
UNICEF’s Qamishli/Syria Representative pointed out in a meeting in March 2022 that, “The families living in the regions under the organization’s control have made complaints about the PKK/YPG abducting their children. The organization might face international sanctions if it continues to violate the protocol signed in 2019”.
PKK/YPG’s Child Abuse Cases as Mentioned in Reports
PKK/YPG continues to hide behind the innocence of children in all its areas of operation. Having managed to recruit numerous children through deceit and threat, the PKK/YPG uses these children in all conflict regions.
Many international reports prove this stance. According to the report of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers presented in the Amman Conference in 2021, “the PKK/YPG systematically trains 3.000 children between the ages of 8 and 12, 10 % of whom are girls”. These facts are also included in the United Nations’ Child Soldiers Global Report published the same year.
UN Secretary General of the time Ban Ki-moon’s report A/69/926-S/2015/409 titled Children and Armed Conflicts of June 2015 presented to the Security Council, emphasizes “the evidence that girls and boys under 15 years of age are mobilized by the YPG/YPJ and are used in war zones”.
The following remarks are made in UN subsidiary UNICEF’s report of June 2014: “We have deep concerns about news indicating the presence of children in PKK’s ranks, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the international community. Use of children by armed forces and terrorist groups is a crime”.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 of the US Department of States’ Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, states under caption Child Soldiers that “PKK/YPG regularly withholds children to provide military training and the exact number of children fighting within PKK/YPG ranks remains unknown”.
While Human Rights Watch Report of June 2014, states that “the PKK/YPG recruits children”, US Human Trafficking Report of 2016 emphasizes that “PKK/YPG continues to recruit and exploit girls and boys, including those under the age of 15, and sends them to training camps”.