Headline, April 17 2021/ ''' '' COLOMBIA'S -STUDENTS- COROLLARY '' '''



STUDENTS - CHILDREN AS ''MACHINES OF WAR'' : The phrase electrified Colombian society. Characterizing ''poor children - students'' as enemies of the state, instead victims of its neglect.

CHILD - [STUDENTS] RECRUITMENT WAS a common feature of Colombia's decades-long war. Now, rebels are at it again, circling town plazas, hanging recruitment posters, passing money to adolescents, charming the girls, persuading them to join the fight.

[STUDENT] YEIMI SOFIA'S - hometown, Puerto Cachiicamo, sits on the Guaybero River, at the intersection of the Andes Mountains, the Amazon region and Colombia's vast plains. One of its defining characteristics is near the total absence of the state.

Cell service never arrived. The school, run by non government organization, goes only to the 10th grade.

The health clinic closed when its only nurse left amid the pandemic. The nearest city is four hours away on a dirt road so craggy that even the most rugged cars are often trapped. A ride out can cost nearly a month's salary.

At 13, she left home to join the guerrillas. Now, at 15, Yeimi Sofia Vega lay in a coffin killed during a military operation ordered by her government.

Some of the youngest children in her town, Puerto Cachicamo, led her funeral procession, waving small white flags as they wound past the school, with its mildewed books and broken benches, past the closed health clinic and their small wooden houses.

''We don't want bombs,'' the children chanted, marching down a dusty road to the cemetery. ''We want opportunities''.

Nearly five years after Colombia signed a historic peace accord with its largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's internal war is far from over.

Remote towns like Puerto Cachicamo have yet to see the schools, clinics and jobs the government promised in the agreement.

Thousands of dissident FARC combatants have returned to battle or never laid down their arms, and are fighting rivals for control of illicit markets. Mass killings and forced displacement are again regular occurrences.

AND YOUNG STUDENTS - trapped between an often absent state, the aggressive recruitment of armed groups and the firepower of the military - are once again the conflict's most vulnerable target.

That was evident last month when the government bombed a rebel camp in an effort to take out a high-profile dissident FARC leader known by the alias Gentil Duarte. The camp turned out to be full of young people/students who had been recruited by the group - and the operation killed at least two minors, including Yeimi Sofia.

The defence minister, Diego Molano, blamed the rebels for the deaths, pointing out that they were the ones turning adolescents into government targets by converting them into ''machines of war.''

The phrase electrified Colombian society, with some people saying Mr. Molano was being blunt but precise and others saying it was this rhetoric - characterizing poor students / children as the state, instead of victims of its neglect - that was one again driving young people to the guerrillas.

The bombing also raised critical questions of accountability in a country still grappling with atrocities committed by all sides during a conflict that left at least 220,000 dead : Did the authorities know there were minors at the camp? Did they attack anyway?

Under international law, children/students join an armed group can become combatants, and can therefore be legally attacked by governments. But the law also requires state actors to investigate whether minors are present at particular target, and if they are, to search for alternative strategies.

Humanitarian law imposes a duty to exercise restraints in attacks against child soldiers,'' said Rene Provost, a professor of international law at McGill University in Montreal. ''And if such duties were ignored, it opens the door for criminal accountability for those who took the decisions.''

In the most extreme circumstances, if a government fails to investigate and punish those responsible, such a case could be taken up by the International Criminal Court.

The Sadness of this Publishing continues. The World Students Society thanks authors Julie Turkewitz and Sofia Villamil.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders, Students, Professors and Teachers of Colombia and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

''' Classroom - Classicist '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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