As mentioned by our foundation in the statements before, HPG, the armed wing of PKK, took on some obligations by signing “Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict” with Geneva Call, an NGO supported by the UN, in 2013. With this deed of commitment HPG created a “non-fighter category” accepting that only 16-18-year-old children will be in this category and promised that children under 16 will never be allowed to join.
However, we have observed that this deed of commitment protected by the Republic and Canton of Geneva is occasionally violated. We would like to mention that we are concerned about their awareness on this issue as this past year many families declared that their children joined mountain fighters even though they are under 16 despite the abovementioned commitment of HPG.
On 9 May 2015 our appeal to send back the children named J. M. and S. Ç. following the official applications of the families has made no progress, and we have received six new applications since that day.
Official applications of eight families and other news of children participation created the need to make another appeal to authorities once more in the past month. According to the latest news we have received, since our appeal about the children named Jiyan M. and Suat Ç.; M. C. (b. 1999) from Diyarbekir, C. E. (b. 2000) from Diyarbekir, A. A. (b. 2000) from Adana Seyhan, R. E. (b. 2001) from Diyarbekir, Z. K. (b. 2001 - female) from Diyarbekir, Z. G. (b. 2001) from Gülyurdu village in Muş Bulanık have joined PKK. It is also claimed that Z. K. was forcefully kidnapped.
As MAZLUMDER; we repeat our appeal to HPG/PKK to fulfill its responsibilities with “Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict” (Geneva Call) signed by HPG/PKK on 5 October 2013 to prevent children under 18 to participate in clashes, to protect them from the effects of war and to keep them away from the war territory.
We demand HPG to remove the annotation “A new non-fighter category will be created for 16-18 year-old teens” and reject the applications from children under 18, announce this decision and send back the children falling under this category immediately.
Internal security law, violence against children, police forces’ which committed murder being rewarded with impunity, juvenile detention centers being far from reformatory, ill treatment in prisons are some of the important reasons why children prefer to join the organization. As MAZLUMDER, we repeat our appeal to the state and government to reevaluate and humanize their security policies which lead children to lose their hopes of a secure and peaceful life and make them resort to armed struggle. We demand that the children who joined PKK and who will be sent back are brought back safely, and will not encounter any legal problems, and support programs for these children are implemented.
We hope that Special Representative of the Secretary-General of UN for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui and international instutitions working on “child fighters issue” like UNICEF, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty will be involved in this issue and work towards solving the problem of child fighters with the help of the government. As MAZLUMDER, we promise to be an active component of such a study.
MAZLUMDER Diyarbekir Branch