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No Amnesty

For Children

By Amnesty International  
  Amnesty International gives examples of children being abused and their rights denied in six different countries. All of these countries have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Children. They still get away with it because people like you and me have not yet put enough pressure on them to stop it.

Born as second-class citizens

Fourteen-year-old "Yosef" was arrested in an early morning police raid on Romani homes in the Slovak village of Hermanovci in October 1998. Officers locked him in the boot of a car to take him to a police station, where they kicked him and beat him with truncheons. He was interrogated without a lawyer or family member present, and was reportedly coerced into making a confession. Fifteen-year-old "István" was hit in the face and racially insulted by police officers in Hajdúhadház police station, in Hungary, in March 1999.

Reports of police brutality against Romani children such as "István" and "Yosef" are numerous throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Yet governments across Europe have failed to ensure that human rights violations against Roma are properly investigated.

You can help by writing to the embassies and consulates of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, urging them to protect Romani children and suggesting that a police education programme could be one way to achieve this.

(BURMA): "I would like to go to school again..."

Thirteen-year-old 'Mi Mi' spent her days working for the military in Nwa La Bo relocation centre, Loikaw township, where she cut grass and carried heavy stones used for road-building.

Sixteen-year-old 'Ma Aye' worked in a military outpost near Paw Tha He village, building fences and military barracks.

They are just two members of Myanmar's ethnic minorities who have been taken from their home villages by Myanmar's military government and forced to work against their will on so-called development projects. "I would like to go to school again." 'Mi Mi' told Amnesty.

Both girls come from the Karenni ethnic minority. They are among thousands of men, women and children from Myanmar's ethnic minorities who have been forcibly used by the Myanmar authorities as unpaid labour.

You can help by calling on the Myanmar government to stop the system of forced labour, and in particular the use of children.

Write to: Lt Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secre tary 1, State Peace and Development Council, c/o Ministry of Defence, Signal Pagoda Road, Yangon, Union of Myanmar.

The death of innocence

There are currently estimated to be at least 6,000 child soldiers in Colombia.

They are used by armed opposition groups as advance troops, and as a result are often killed in combat. Although the Columbian army has taken steps to end its recruitment of child soldiers, army-backed paramilitary forces frequently abduct children some reportedly as young as eight years old to use in battle. All sides continue to use children to gather intelligence.

The use of child soldiers has only added to the cycle of violence by brutalising a new generation.

You can help exclude children from Colombia's conflict by urging the Colombian President to prevent anyone under the age of 18 from taking part in the conflict, and to promote the recovery and reintegration into society of all children who have been involved in the armed conflict.

Write to: Senor Presidente Andrés Pastrana, Presidente de la República, Palacio di Narino, Carrera 8 No. 7-26, Santafé de Bogotá, Columbia (fax: 00 57 1 2867434/ 2842186/ 3371351).

Send copies to the People's Ombudsman: Dr. José Fernando Castro Caycedo, Defensor del Pueblo, Defensoría del Pueblo, Calle 55 No. 10-32, Santafé de Bogotá, Columbia (fax: 00 57 1 3461225/ 2856908).

Children held in exchange for father's freedom

The Iranian military are holding three children and their mother hostage in an attempt to force the children's father to return to Iran.

The father, an air force pilot, fled Iran with a military helicopter in May 1995, fearing his arrest on political charges if he stayed in the country. Shortly afterwards, his wife, Soheila Bigzadeh, and their three sons, Sohrab, Salar and Sardar then aged 14, 13 and six were arrested. The family were reportedly held under armed guard until late 1996 after which they were transferred to an army camp in Esfahan.

The family now live under constant surveillance and are escorted by guards whenever they leave the camp. They have still not received official notification of why they are being detained.

You can help by calling on the Iranian government to release Soheila Bigzadeh and her children Sohrab, Salar and Sardar.

Write to: His Excellency Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.

'Traditional values' and the abuse of children's rights

Millions of women and children suffer human rights abuses in Pakistan because of traditional perceptions of honour. And every year, hundreds of those who have supposedly transgressed social norms are the victims of honour killings. Their killers are rarely prosecuted, but even when they are convicted they frequently receive light sentences because of the judiciary's bias against women.

Sixteen-year-old Lal Jamilla Mandokhel was repeatedly raped in March 1999. Her uncle filed a complaint about the incident with the police, and police officers detained her attacker. Lal Jamilla was handed over to her tribe. She was shot dead on orders of her tribe's council of elders, who decided it was the only way to overcome the shame she had brought them.

You can help by writing to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews, TD, expressing your concern about the honour killings of children in Pakistan and asking that he urges the Pakistan government to introduce meaningful legal and educational reforms to protect the children of Pakistan.

Children accused of 'rebellion' arbitrarily detained and tortured

Odette Nzeyimana, a sixteen-year-old girl, and Budari, a thirteen-year-old boy, have been held in Mpimba Prision, Bujumbura, Burundi, for more than seven months. Like many of the other children held with them, they have been accused of collaboration with armed opposition groups. Many are unaware of the offence they are alleged to have committed, and only very few have been tried. Children are also being held along-side adults, putting them at an increased risk of violence.

Both Odette and Budari are reported to have been tortured in detention. Odette was forced to undress and remain naked for hours in front of members of the security forces.

You can help by writing to the Burundian government, urging thm to put an end to the arbitrary detention and torture of children in Burundi, and to investigate the cases of Odette and Budari.

Send faxes to: Terence Sinunguruza, Ministre de la Justice (00257 222148); and to: Eugene Nindorera, Ministre des Droits de la Personne Humaine (00257 217549)


If the govemments named on these pages had kept the promises they made to their own people and to the international community, none of these tales of suffering and injustice would ever have happened.

Sixteen-year-old Lal Jamilla would still be alive; Sohrab, Salar and Sardar would have their freedom. 'Mi Mi' and 'Ma Aye' would not have been forced to trade their education for unpaid labour; Romani children in Central Europe would not have been persecuted because of their ethnic background.

Odette and Budari would have escaped torture, while future generations in Burundi and Colombia would have been excluded from the bitter conflicts that have been tearing their countries apart.

Their rights should have been guaranteed because they, like 96% of the world's children, live in countries that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention, founded on the notion of the "best interests" of the child, seeks to protect children by laying out fundamental principles such as the right to protection from torture and abuse, to education, to freedom from discrimination, and to protection from armed conflict and exploitation. It is the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history, with only Somalia and the USA failing to ratify it!

It is ten years since the Convention was adopted by the UN. Yet children across the world continue to be routinely denied their rights. Why? Because not enough pressure is put on govemments to make the rights in the Convention an everyday reality.

Be part of AI's campaign to make govemments take their commitments to children's rights seriously, and take action on these cases now.

For rnore information, contact Micheline Bradley, Children's Action Network, 9 Castle Close Drive, Blarney, Cork, or Orla O'Sullivan, Student and Youth Network, at the Section Office, 48 Fleet Street, Dublin 2.

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