using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2007 38 When Beah was seven, he came up with his answer to the riddle. He’d shoot the monkey, so that it wouldn’t have the chance to make any other humans choose. “I never discussed it with anyone,” Ishmael writes in his memoir, “for fear of how my mother would feel.” Five years later, in 1993, Beah was twelve and civil war was raging in his country. Refugees passed through his village and talked about how rebel sol- diers from the Revolutionary United Front had killed their families. People felt sorry for the refugees and offered them a place to stay, but the refugees didn’t accept the invitation. They said the war would soon come to Beah’s area. And they were right. One morning, Beah, his older brother, Junior, and some friends stuffed their pockets with rap-music cas- settes and loaded their backpacks with notebooks full of lyrics. Junior, who had learned about North Ameri- can dance and music at secondary school, had taught the others how to rap, and now the boys were sched- uled to participate in a talent show in Mattru Jong, a neighboring village. To save money, they opted to walk the sixteen miles there, arriving without inci- dent. But they were not in Mattru Jong for very long before they received news from home: the rebels had attacked their village. The boys, not knowing if their families were dead or alive, set out to look for them. On the way, they saw lost children wailing for their parents. They saw a woman carrying a dead baby on her back, the baby’s blood dripping down her dress, and they saw a man vomiting blood and crying. He and his family had tried to escape the rebels by car, but the rebels had shot and killed his wife and children. The boys realized their parents could not still be in their village and that the only thing they could do was to go back to Mattru Jong. Of course, everyone knew that sooner or later the war would find them there, too. Beah was cooking when he first heard the rebels fire their guns. “In the beginning of the war, people were afraid of the gunshots,” Beah tells me in an interview, “but soon the sound became all too common. We got used to it and didn’t run.” On this day, though, Beah did run, and he didn’t stop for many months. Journeying from one village to another in an attempt to outrun the rebels, Beah ate fruit growing on trees he’d never seen before and slept in trees or on the porches of strangers’ huts. And in his running to no particular place, he lost people along the way. Some, like Junior, he lost in the confu- sion of rebel attacks. Others, like his friend Gasemu, were murdered by rebels right before his eyes. A few days after Gasemu’s death, Beah was walking • An estimated 300,000 children—boys and girls under the age of 18—are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. • A UNICEF study of six countries reported the aver- age age of child soldiers as 13 years old. Human Rights Watch reports that there are soldiers as young as eight years old. • Children are used as combatants, messengers, spies, porters, cooks, human land-mine detectors, suicide bombers, and for forced sexual services. New light- weight weaponry has made it possible for children to serve in frontline combat. In some cases, they are drugged to increase their fearlessness in battle. • Some children are abducted or forcibly recruited; others join because of poverty, abuse, and dis- crimination, or to seek revenge for violence enacted against them or their families. Children are more likely to become soldiers if they are separated from their families, displaced from their homes, living in combat zones, or have limited access to educa- tion. They may join armed groups because doing so guarantees daily food and survival. • Child soldiers have served in armed political groups or in government forces in the following countries/ territories: Afghanistan, Angola, Burma, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, East Timor, Eritrea, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip/ Palestinian Authority Territories, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russian Fed- eration, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda. (UNICEF includes the U.S. and Canada in its list because they allow conscription under 18.) • Burma is believed to have more child soldiers than any other country in the world. The major- ity of their child soldiers are in the national army, which forcibly recruits those as young as 11. Chil- dren make up an estimated 20 percent of Burma’s 350,000-strong force. Some Hard Facts on Child Soldiers Compiled from recent UN, UNICEF, and Human Rights Watch releases. SEPT 36-43.indd 38 SEPT 36-43.indd 38 6/25/07 4:53:53 PM 6/25/07 4:53:53 PM