The Philippine army has fabricated stories that children taken into custody are rebel “child warriors,” Human Rights Watch has reported, urging the Philippine government to end the practice.
In each of the cases investigated, the army made a media spectacle of the abducted innocent children, publicly branding them rebels and continuing to harass those children finally released and their families. These violate multiple domestic and international laws.
“The army is concocting stories of rebel child soldiers that are putting children at risk for propaganda purposes,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should get the military to stop this despicable practice and investigate the officers involved.”
The government of the Philippines is one of the biggest recipients of US military aid in all of Asia, with $163 million slated for 2012, despite recently hosting one of the worst waves of human rights violations in its history. Numerous embassy cables released by WikiLeaks acknowledge systematic extrajudicial killings, abduction, and false arrests perpetrated by the US-supported security forces.
The United States conducts a so-called counterinsurgency operations there against an elusive group allegedly tied to al Qaeda, and reportedly numbering at no more than 12 individuals. A total of 17 US forces, out of about 600, have been killed efforts in the Philippines, and the Department of Defense has indicated it will stay in the country indefinitely.
The US values the Philippines as a reliable client state and a counter to China, thus humanitarian concerns have been irrelevant. The Obama Administration recently announced that it is preparing a major increase in arms shipments to the Philippines, despite such ongoing human rights abuses.
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