Ali Heydari: Kurdish MPs must act for child soldiers

One of the major problems facing some Kurdish families in the border regions of West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Ilam provinces is the kidnapping of children by armed groups that the Iranian government considers illegal and are located on Iraqi soil, especially in the mountains near the Iranian border in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

According to numerous local, regional (such as the Kurd Watch) and international reports (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child), the children have been kidnapped or otherwise deceived. Local reports in the provinces say that dozens of Kurdish children have been forcibly or by brain-drain joined the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its branch for Iran, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), and some families say, despite visiting the Qandil Mountains in the KRG, they have not even been able to meet their children.

Parliament can oblige the government to pursue the fate of child soldiers

Kurdish children, like other children in other provinces, are Iranian citizens, and the government is obliged to defend the rights of its citizens. In an interview with Iranian Kurdistan Human Rights Watch (IKHRW), some families have criticized the government, saying that if a child faced with similar conditions in, for example, Tehran, everybody would hear families better and would take various measures, including legal ones, to rescue children from deplorable conditions. The Kurdish child soldiers in the PKK / PJAK are also victims of government and media silence.

Ali Heydari, an expert on Turkish affairs, told IKHRW what the government could do: “I think one can work in two areas: first they can do it through the parliament and Kurdish representatives. That is, they send approve a bill to compel the government to act. Second, by cooperating with Turkey and participating in their programs or by visiting Turkish institutions and organizations working in this field. They are more serious than we are in this area and are looking to get rid of this security crisis this year.

The issue of the Kurdish child soldiers should be raised in the UN Human Rights Council

Given the government’s ban on groups that recruit children as soldiers and the widespread aid of Western countries, including the US, to the People’s Defense Units (YPG), many experts and even Western political figures, including Former US National Security Adviser John Bolton, YPG and PKK are the same, the expert on Turkish affairs added. YPG is not recognized as a terrorist group by the West and therefore they do not put much pressure on it. The pressure on groups is also aligned with Western policies. If a group is in harmony with them, they don’t seem to put much pressure on it. Ali Heydari believes that bringing the issue to the international human rights circles can be effective and pointed to the UN Human Rights Periodic Councils as an appropriate place for documenting the issue.

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