Human Rights Watch: A Report or Campaign Against Islamic Institutions?
22 February 2016
By Shahamat Emarat
The Human Rights Watch published a report on Wednesday entitled ‘Taliban Child
Recruitment Surges' in which it alleges that since mid-2015 the Taliban have
added scores of child soldiers in their ranks in violation of the
international prohibition on the use of child soldiers.
This report which is largely based on unfounded allegations states that
research by HRW shows that the Taliban deploy children in military operations
including production and planting of IEDs, further adding that the Taliban
increasingly use madrasas (Islamic religious schools) to provide military
training to children followed by their recruitment and deployment in combat.
In an apparent move to try and provide evidence for these allegations, the
organization states that it interviewed relatives of 13 children recruited by
the Taliban as soldiers in Kunduz province over the past year and verified
these claims through interviews with civil society activists, political
analysts and the United Nations.
The report further notes that this recruitment drive actually coincided with a
major Taliban offensive in northern Afghanistan which began in April 2015,
paving way for the Taliban to gain more influence over the education sector in
Kunduz. Since then Madrasas were increasingly used to indoctrinate, train and
recruit children inside these institutions.
The report alleges that indoctrination begins at age of 6, continuing for up
to 7 years of religious education under Taliban teachers and by the time these
children are 13 years of age, they have learned military skills including use
of firearms as well as production and deployment of IEDs. After this, these
children are handed over to Taliban groups by their Taliban teachers.
And the two of the most audacious claims in the report state that:
Taliban madrasas attract the poor because the Taliban cover their expenses and
even provided their families with cash.
Children who had been recruited were full time madrasa students while those
attending government schools were not prone to being convinced to fight.
Then to bury the final nail in the coffin, the report suggests that the
government and military forces (US and NATO) ban madrasas and teaching of
religious education by evoking ‘The Optional Protocol' in the ‘Involvement of
Children in Armed Conflict' found in International Humanitarian Law.
This ‘The Optional Protocol' clause stipulates that governments ‘take all
feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption
of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices'.
The report finally ends with recalling interviews with families and relatives
of 13 such cases where Taliban have recruited Child Soldiers in 2015 albeit
with the caveat ‘The names of children and their relatives are changed for
security reasons and the names of Taliban commanders who use these children in
warfare are not provided because it was not possible to contact the Taliban on
A round of applause for HRW and their thorough research which is basically
that we have conjured some allegations and will substantiate them with zero
evidence. Allegations which hold no validity whatsoever in international law.
First of all 13 cases is hardly the threshold for making such a broad
allegation that Taliban use madrasas to indoctrinate children and use them for
conflict related purposes. The HRW obviously had to conveniently withhold the
names of these children for their security.
Madrasas are one of the oldest and most effective forms of education in human
history. Through over a thousand years they have trained generations upon
generations across the Muslim world. To attempt to wipe out this essential
institute of Islamic culture would frankly require a bit more than 13 obscure
cases by unknown and unverified children.
If the report can't publish the real names of these children and their family
members they could at least be so kind as to publish the names and locations
of the madrasas where this widespread practice is taking place. To justify
their claim for closing down the tens of thousands of madrasas across
Afghanistan, they could at least provide enough evidence to prove that this
practice of child recruitment is a deliberate policy taking place across all
the areas under the Taliban control and not a one-off incident.
The enemies of our nation and religion know no moral compass. Here they try to
accuse the Taliban of using child soldiers and call for the closure of
madrasas based on 13 concocted and unsubstantiated claims. While there they
bring a poor and innocent child in front of the television and by paying him
convince him to say that he was somehow recruited by the Taliban to carry out
a suicide attack.
The Taliban regularly publish videos of martyrdom seeking individuals. Why has
not one child been seen in these publications? Now obviously in most cases
bodily parts of these martyrdom seekers are also left intact. Why the
government and these supposed human rights organizations can't produce a
single case where the bodily parts of the martyrdom seeker belonged to a
The Taliban have also published hundreds of videos of their operations. Why
has not a single child soldier observed in these videos?
How obtuse of a supposedly reputable international human rights organization
to allege things all the while turning a blind eye to provable known
international war crimes carried out by the US, her allies and the Kabul
There are dozens of pictures, videos and interviews by government officials
that testify to the fact that local militias and even the Afghan army recruit
child soldiers among their ranks. Why has the HRW turned a blind eye to these
accusations despite having the resources and full access to investigate them?
This report is an affront to human intellect and the notion of human rights.
We don't know what has gotten into these rights organizations and the extent
of their hatred after the fall of Kunduz because first, Amnesty International
published a similar unsubstantial report alleging rape and extra-judicial
killings by Taliban that was subsequently spurned and proved baseless by eye
witness accounts and even the Kabul regime officials admitted to the
fallaciousness of such reports. Now we have this fabrication which goes to
great lengths to demonize the religious seminaries that work to educate and
provide education opportunity for the poor Afghan masses.
Moreover this move by HRW is a clear indication that the war on Madrasas is
not over especially after the women right organizations voiced their concerns
recently, followed by an Al Jazeera documentary of Madrasas in Kunduz which
towed the same line as HRW and this theme was again picked up by Ashraf Ghani
and Abdullah Abdullah urging Taliban to stop using child soldiers recruited
from Madrasas in their latest speeches, which essentially consisted of
extending an olive branch or rather the branch of surrender and shame to the