May 14, 2019
Recent remarks by Iran’s education minister about 14 million schoolchildren being ready to go to war, has led to public outcry and condemnations among Iranians.
Iranian officials have been making bellicose remarks in recent weeks after tensions flared with the United States.
The Iranian Society for the Protection of the Rights of Children has released a public letter May 12 on social media addressed to the minister criticizing his comment.
Iranian media reported that Mohammad Bathaee, Minister of Education on May 10 in a speech said, “Now, we have 14 million students in schools…who if needed are ready to sacrifice their lives, like the period of holy defense (Iran-Iraq war)”.
In the 1980s, the Islamic Republic sent tens of thousands of children to fight in the war against Iraq, often as canon fodder to run on minefields to open the way for regular armed forces to advance.
The minister’s remark has led to a wave of protests on social media. One user, posting the minister’s photo with his adult son says that he should have sent him to the army.
Many social media users reminded the minister that the phenomenon of child soldiers is illegal.
Previously, Human Rights Watch had accused the Islamic Revolution Guards for sending Afghan refugee children to fight in Syria. HRW in a report had highlighted that sometimes children as young as 14 were sent to Syria as part of the Fatemyoun Brigade, organized by Iran.
International law through several convention, particularly according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child forbids sending children younger than 15 armed conflict.