Children used as a ‘riot shield’

Sri Lanka began to witness human shields again this year, 13 years after the eradication of LTTE terrorism.

But this time it was more destructive and inhuman than the human shield used by the LTTE because earlier during the LTTE terror period both adults and children were used but this time it is only children being used as a human shield.

We are talking about the child human shield that began to be used by the so-called `protestors’ in April this year in Galle Face and it came to the peak when they used children as a human shield at Galle Face last Sunday, October 9. There, children were forced to undergo life threatening stampedes and all the other related dangers caused by their own parents.

According to Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Miyuru Chandradasa of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, when children are forced to be in the middle of a large crowd, pushed here and there, they develop anxiety and face psychological trauma and they receive distressing life time memories which are extremely harmful.

Since experts such as child psychologists, officials from the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), prominent lawyers have expressed their views on this topic, it is important to touch an area which those scholars or the media did not discuss so far in connection with this latest negative trend – child human shields in Sri Lanka.

A few decades ago parents protected their children like their eyes and sacrificed their own lives without thinking twice to save their children from any type of danger. But, today this has been turned upside down. The entire country can clearly see the current situation where many parents use their children as tools on different occasions.

It is very surprising to hear what the parents of those child victims say when the people question them about their brutal act of putting the lives of their children in grave danger by forcing them to be a part of a large crowd gathered in a large area.

Hilarious excuse

When people ask parents why they use their children as tools, the parents say that their children must understand and learn from their childhood to protest against injustice. This is a hilarious excuse because they never take the responsibility of their children’s safety and put their lives in danger purposely when they can simply teach that to their children at home without putting their lives in danger.

There is another answer given by parents who force their children to be present at various protest sites in the middle of crowds. They say they have no option but to bring their children with them because they have nothing to eat at home and no milk powder for them. This is another hilarious answer because no parent who genuinely loves their children would put the starving child in grave danger where the child could be wounded or killed. We, ordinary people, watch every night how poor parents feed their children with anything they can find while keeping them at home safely even without sending them to the school, but not to various protests.

Parents who force their children to be present in protest sites, simply use their innocent children to escape from the police and also try to let the children get hurt to put the whole blame on the police. It is as simple as that and even a person with an iota of brains can very easily understand this. These children are just pieces of flesh for their parents and nothing more than that.

A popular male trade unionist who is not married and does not have children says that women and children are weak and vulnerable. The simple meaning is that they use them clearly knowing that they are weak and vulnerable and can get hurt easily. Their main objective is forcefully creating `victims’ to put the blame on the police and the Government.

If anyone carefully examines the recent incidents where children were forced to be present in protest sites, they can see that those `parents’ do not love their children at all. Those ‘parents’ knew that there was a possibility for their children to face tear gas, water cannon and possible stampedes during protests.

If parents want their children to get hurt, what will be their next step if their children do not get hurt as expected? Maybe they can hurt their children to put the blame on the police and the Government. When considering how certain sections of Sri Lankan society such as drug addicts behave, we cannot say that such an incident will never happen in Sri Lanka.

Dead bodies

If young parents in Sri Lanka can kill their unborn children, newborn infants, toddlers and children, if they can burn them, rape them, sell them and we watch at least one such incident over the television every single night, we can clearly see what is happening in Sri Lanka right now. There is no need for various answers and explanations. The video clips tell the story.

While some parents safely keep their children at home and never let them go near strangers, another group of parents put their children’s lives in every possible danger by exposing them to obvious dangers in the middle of a large crowd.

The ordinary people will not accept it if certain political parties which can never win any election democratically try to capture power over dead bodies. But we have to act fast against them if they try to get the bodies of children instead of adults. Maybe they tried to win over the bodies of youth in 1988-1989 and since it has become an old tactic, now they may be trying to get the bodies of children which can be used to antagonise people against the Government.

The winter season is round the corner and Sri Lanka is walking forward inch by inch with the arrival of tourists. Now who needs the dead bodies of children? Who needs to paint a dark picture of Sri Lanka at this time? The answer will give a very clear understanding of the recent video clips of children being forced to be in the middle of a large crowd of protestors by their parents.

Serious offence

Last week President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that using children as shields in demonstrations is a serious offence according to the law and advised the Police to take immediate measures to prevent the perpetuation of such conduct.

Highlighting sub-section 13 of Article 27 of the Constitution, “The State shall promote with special care the interests of children and youth, so as to ensure their full development, physical, mental, moral, religious and social, and to protect them from exploitation and discrimination,” the President emphasised that protecting children is the prime responsibility of a Government.

He also advised officials to discuss this issue with the Attorney General to take steps in this regard. The President drew attention to the detention of children, who were among the people who were arrested for illegally migrating to India, and therefore were separated from their parents. He said that this situation needs to be rectified immediately and arrangements made to return the children to their parents.

The President also called for special attention to be paid to the education of children in orphanages and protection of their rights and advised officials to submit a report on those with special needs in such institutions. He stressed the need to provide formal training to those in charge of these children’s homes to avoid facing difficult situations.

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