HRA Unveils Groundbreaking Report on Iran’s Use of Child Soldiers in Armed Conflicts

In a groundbreaking publication today, Human Rights Activists (HRA) has released an extensive report detailing Iran’s longstanding practice of recruiting the economically disadvantaged segments of society, including asylum seekers, immigrants, and using child soldiers in armed conflicts. The report particularly spotlights the exploitation of Afghan minors within the Fatemiyoun Division. This comprehensive investigation sheds light on a series of violations of international humanitarian law and international children’s rights, revealing the depth of Iran’s involvement in the recruitment, training, and deployment of children in combat zones.

The primary focus of this report, prepared by Spreading Justice (a database of human rights violators), the Pasdaran Documentation Initiative, and the HRANA news agency, is on the use of children—specifically individuals under 18 years of age—in war zones, who are predominantly of Afghan nationality and, to a lesser extent, Pakistani.

Click here to download the full report

Unmasking the Exploitation of Vulnerable Populations: The primary aim of this report is to unmask the systematic exploitation of vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on Afghan immigrants and minors, by Iran’s military and paramilitary forces. Through detailed accounts, testimonies, and evidence, HRA endeavors to bring to the forefront the realities of these practices that have long been shrouded in secrecy and obfuscation.

Promoting Transparency and Accountability: This report also aims to encourage transparency and accountability regarding the recruitment and use of child soldiers. By conducting a thorough analysis of Iran’s recruitment networks, training centers, and the roles played by various institutions and commanders, HRA seeks to ensure that those responsible for these violations are held accountable.

Encouraging International Action and Dialogue: This report aims to spur international action and dialogue on the urgent issue of child soldiers.It calls for a united global effort to address and mitigate the factors driving the recruitment of child soldiers, advocating for policy reforms and the implementation of protective measures in line with the principles of international humanitarian law and children’s rights.

Through this report, HRA not only highlights the grave injustices experienced by child soldiers but also provides a roadmap for change, urging all stakeholders to commit to protecting the most vulnerable in conflict zones.

HRA’s report is a comprehensive analysis that exposes Iran’s systematic recruitment and exploitation of child soldiers, particularly focusing on the use of Afghan minors within the ranks of the Fatemiyoun Division, a paramilitary group fighting in Syria under the auspices of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This investigation is the result of meticulous research, including interviews with former child soldiers, analysis of recruitment tactics, and examination of the training and deployment processes.

Systematic Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers: The report exposes Iran’s long-standing practice of systematically recruiting child soldiers, a practice dating back to the Iran-Iraq War and persisting through its involvement in the Syrian conflict. It details how Iran targets vulnerable populations, particularly Afghan refugees and immigrants, many of whom are minors, coercing them into military service with promises of financial rewards or legal residency.

Violation of International Laws and Conventions: The HRA’s findings reveal Iran’s egregious violations of international law, encompassing both International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. Despite its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which prohibits the use of children under 15 in hostilities, Iran has been documented recruiting children as young as 14. This flagrant disregard for international norms extends to Iran’s failure to adhere to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on child soldiers and Customary International Law. These actions highlight Iran’s blatant disregard for its international commitments and the urgent need for accountability.

Inadequate Training and Preparation: The investigation details the insufficient and hastily conducted training provided to these child soldiers and other recruits, often lasting only three to four weeks. The training primarily focuses on combat tactics rather than imparting a comprehensive understanding of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This lack of proper training not only exposes these children to immense danger on the battlefield but also contravenes the principles of IHL, which Iran is obligated to teach its armed forces.

Exploitation and Coercion: The report exposes the exploitation and coercion inherent in Iran’s recruitment practices. Testimonies from former child soldiers and other former members reveal a troubling pattern of manipulation, where minors and individuals in precarious visa situations are coerced into combat roles under threats of violence or death. Promises of financial compensation and legal status made to them are consistently broken.

High Casualty Rates and Lack of Support: One of the most harrowing findings is the disproportionately high casualty rates among the Fatemiyoun Division’s child soldiers. Testimonies and data point to instances where a significant amount of child soldiers were deployed in combat operations with minimal support, resulting in significant loss of life and injury. Furthermore, the report criticizes the lack of adequate support for injured child soldiers and the families of those killed in action, highlighting a neglectful and dismissive attitude by the IRGC towards these individuals upon their return from Syria.

Call to Action: In light of these findings, the report urges immediate action from the international community, including the implementation of targeted human rights sanctions for human rights abusers, support from international organizations and non-governmental organizations working on the ground to protect vulnerable populations from recruitment. Emphasizing Iran’s duty to uphold international standards, the report urges Iran to immediately halt its recruitment of child soldiers and to initiate comprehensive measures for the rehabilitation and support of those already impacted by such egregious practices.

The report by HRA is not just a condemnation of Iran’s actions but a plea to safeguard the rights and well-being of children caught in conflicts. By shedding light on these issues, HRA seeks to catalyze global efforts to ensure that no child is coerced into bearing arms and that those who have suffered receive the support needed to rebuild their lives.

HRA report on the recruitment and use of child soldiers by Iran represents a significant accomplishment, prepared despite considerable security and information challenges. Conducting research in a context where access to reliable data is heavily restricted, and where subjects of investigation face significant risks, required innovative approaches and steadfast determination. The organization’s commitment to uncovering the truth led to the deployment of undercover investigations, extensive interviews with survivors, and collaboration with a network of local activists, all undertaken while ensuring the safety and anonymity of those involved.

The international community cannot afford to overlook the findings of this report. The documented violations have profound implications for global peace, security, and human rights. Addressing the use of child soldiers requires a concerted effort from nations worldwide to:

HRA urges all concerned individuals, organizations, and government entities to engage with this critical issue by reviewing the full report. By understanding the depth and severity of the violations against children in armed conflicts, collective work can be done to safeguard the rights of the vulnerable.

To access the comprehensive report and learn more about the findings and recommendations, please download the full PDF version by clicking on the image below. HRA encourages readers to contact us with any questions, insights, or support for our ongoing efforts to protect human rights worldwide.

The active involvement and support of individuals are instrumental in addressing the use of child soldiers and upholding human rights globally. Collaboratively, efforts aim to contribute to positive change, fostering a safer, more just world for future generations.

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Iran Recruited Afghan Children to Fight in Syria, Claims HRANA Report

Afghanistan International – Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) has reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran has, for years, coerced migrants, especially Afghan children, into military service with promises of financial rewards and legal residency.

According to the report, Iran has dispatched Afghan children to fight in Syria as part of the Fatemiyoun Brigade.

A group of human rights activists in Iran published a comprehensive report on Tuesday, March 12, documenting Iran’s long-term operations of recruitment and use of child soldiers in warfare.

The main goal of this report is to expose the systematic exploitation of vulnerable populations, with a special focus on migrants and Afghan children by Iranian military and paramilitary forces.

The findings of this group of human rights activists document and highlight Iran’s violation of several international laws, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates that children under 15 should not be recruited or used in conflicts.

The activists have called for immediate action from the international community, including sanctions, diplomatic pressures, and support for NGOs working to protect vulnerable populations from child recruitment.

The report notes that one of the most concerning findings is the high casualty rate among child soldiers in the Fatemiyoun Brigade.

HRANA added that Iran has recruited Afghan children into the Fatemiyoun Brigade and Pakistani individuals into the Zainabiyoun Brigade.

Fatemiyoun Brigade is a militia group affiliated with Iran’s Quds Force, claiming to organise volunteer Afghan forces for deployment to Syria to fight against Bashar Assad’s opponents and ISIS.

According to HRANA’s report, the Fatemiyoun Division began its operations in 2013, marking the first deployment of Afghan “Fatemiyoun” defenders to Syria.

The report indicates that recruitment agents initially targeted Afghans for enlistment in this force, from factories to prisons, with promises that going to Syria would annul their prison sentences, stabilise their residency status in Iran, and provide them with houses and significant amounts of financial support.

HRANA, quoting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the former Afghan government, wrote, “Tehran has exploited the poverty and deprivation of Afghans who migrated to Iran for its sectarian and expansionist interests and goals.”

Samad Rezai, a commander of the Fatemiyoun in 2018, stated that at least 80,000 individuals under the Fatemiyoun brigades were deployed to Syria, with 2,800 reported as killed.

Zuhair Mujahid, the charge of cultural division of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, announced in 2017 that more than two thousand members of the Fatemiyoun forces had been killed in the Syrian war, with eight thousand wounded.

Recruitment of Children for the War in Syria

HRANA says that most members of the Fatemiyoun Brigade were Afghan migrants. According to the report, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was also active in recruiting within Afghanistan and had unofficial offices in the country.

Although the exact number of child soldiers in the Fatemiyoun is unclear, HRANA’s evidence suggests that the Revolutionary Guards have used children under 18, even under 15, as soldiers to join the Fatemiyoun and participate in the Syrian war.

HRANA’s report states that in 2017, Human Rights Watch confirmed the use of at least eight Afghan children in the Fatemiyoun Brigade by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. All these Afghan children were killed in the Syrian war, and four of them were only 14 years old at the time of their death.

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HRA welcomes the UNSR report on the situation of human rights in Iran

UNSR Dr. Javaid Rehman presents final report as mandate holder to the U.N. Human Rights Council, 18 March 2024

Today, Dr. Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, presented his final report as mandate holder to the United Nations Human Rights Council .

HRA welcomes Dr. Rehman’s analysis, particularly his spotlight on the alarming prevalence of death penalty charges, including for drug related offenses and for juvenile offenders.  Despite the clear violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR, Iran persists in executing individuals on drug-related charges and other crimes that do not amount to “most serious” under international law. Furthermore, the report exposes the egregious mistreatment of women, girls, human rights defenders, lawyers, and minorities, illustrating instances of forced confessions, unfair trials, and discriminatory practices. The aforementioned– all themes HRA has worked diligently to document and work closely with the mandate to share insights throughout the reporting period.

HRA embraces the recommendations outlined in the report , advocating for a moratorium on executions, the abolition of the death penalty, and improved legislation concerning child offenders.. It also underscores the imperative to uphold the right to a fair trial in accordance with the ICCPR, prevent threats, harassment, and arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, and release individuals detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms. See HRA’s latest report on the situation of female political prisoners for more on our work in this regard.

HRA is proud to be present at the United Nations Human Rights Council in its 55th Session, standing in solidarity with and bringing the voices of Iranians to the international stage. In light of the expansive issues touched on in the report, it is imperative that Member States of the Human Rights Council vote to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran. This will ensure the continuation of vital work such as documentation, reporting, and archiving in the manner exemplified today.

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Recruiting Afghan migrant children in wars by Iran

In the “Moj” program on Amu TV, Parastoo Azizi (director of the Spreading Justice) and Sharif Ghalib, former advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, discussed and analyzed the improper use of children in wars. A new report by Human Rights Activists reveals Iran’s involvement in recruiting and using child soldiers, especially Afghan citizens, in the Fatemiyoun Division. This research, a collaboration between Spreading Justice, the PDP Initiative, and HRANA, aims to expose violations of international laws and children’s rights.

در برنامه موج از شبکه آمو، پرستو عزیزی (مدیر پایگاه اطلاعاتی دادگستر) و شریف غالب، مشاور سابق وزارت خارجه افغانستان به بحث و بررسی پیرامون استفاده ناروا از کودکان در جنگ‌ها پرداختند. گزارشی جدید مجموعه فعالان نشان دهنده دخالت ایران در جذب و استفاده از کودک سربازان، به ویژه شهروندان افغانستان در تیپ فاطمیون است. این تحقیق که حاصل کار دادگستر، ابتکار پاسداران و هرانا است، افشای نقض قوانین بین‌المللی و حقوق کودکان را هدف قرار داده.

AMU TV Youtube Link

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Nazi trial: 100-year-old SS guard in court in Germany

Published: 7 October by BBC

A 100-year-old former security guard of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp appears in the courtroom before his trial at the Landgericht Neuruppin court in Brandenburg, Germany, 7 October 2021
Image caption,Josef S, who was 21 when he first became a guard at Sachsenhausen in 1942, appears in court

Seventy-six years after the end of World War Two, a former concentration camp guard has gone on trial for assisting in the murder of 3,518 prisoners at Sachsenhausen near Berlin.

Josef S is accused of complicity in the shooting of Soviet prisoners of war and the murder of others with Zyklon B gas.

Time is running out for Nazi-era criminals to face justice and he is the oldest defendant so far to stand trial.

It was only in recent years that lower-ranking Nazis were brought to trial.

Ten years ago, the conviction of former SS guard John Demjanjuk set a precedent enabling prosecutors to charge people for aiding and abetting Nazi crimes in World War Two. Until then, direct participation in murder had to be proven.

Identified as Josef S, because of German privacy laws, the defendant was led into a specially adapted sports hall at a prison in Brandenburg an der Havel, where the trial began amid strict security.

He arrived outside the court in a wheelchair, clutching a briefcase, and entered with the aid of a walking frame. He shielded his face with a blue file to stop photographers getting a view.

Josef S has lived in the Brandenburg area for years, reportedly as a locksmith, and has not spoken publicly about the trial.

His lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, told the court that the defendant would make no comment at the trial on the allegations against him. He would, however, speak about his personal circumstances at Friday’s hearing.

Josef S was 21 when he first became a guard at Sachsenhausen in 1942. Now almost 101, he is considered able to appear in court for up to two and half hours a day. The trial is due to continue until January.

Public prosecutor Cyrill Klement told the court of the systematic killings at Sachsenhausen between 1941 and 1945. “The defendant supported this knowingly and willingly – at least by conscientiously carrying out guard duty, which was perfectly integrated into the killing regime.”

Tens of thousands of people died at the camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, including resistance fighters, Jews, political opponents, homosexuals and prisoners of war.

A gas chamber was installed at Sachsenhausen in 1943 and 3,000 people were massacred at the camp as the war drew to a close because they were “unfit to march”. The prosecutor gave details of mass shootings and murders by gas, as well as through disease and exhaustion.

Holocaust survivor Leon Schwarzbaum holds a picture in the courtroom during a trial against a 100-year-old former security guard of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, at the Landgericht Neuruppin court in Brandenburg, Germany, October 7, 2021
,Leon Schwarzbaum survived Sachsenhausen as well as Auschwitz and Buchenwald

Thursday’s trial was especially important for 17 co-plaintiffs, who include survivors of Sachsenhausen.

Christoffel Heijer was six years old when he last saw his father: Johan Hendrik Heijer was one of 71 Dutch resistance fighters shot dead at the camp.

“Murder isn’t destiny; it’s not a crime that can be legally erased by time,” he told Berliner Zeitung.

Leon Schwarzenbaum, who is a 100-year-old survivor of Sachsenhausen, said this was the “last trial for my friends and acquaintances and my loved ones who were murdered” and he hoped it would end in a final conviction.

There was widespread frustration at Josef S’s refusal to give evidence.

“For the survivors this is yet another rejection, just like it was in the camp. You were vermin,” said Christoph Heubner of the International Auschwitz Committee.

Thomas Walther, the lawyer acting for the co-plaintiffs, said he was not surprised but hoped he would change his mind.

Most Nazi camp guards will not face trial.

Bruno Dey holds a folder in front of his face in court on 23 July 2020
Image caption,Nazi SS guard Bruno Dey was convicted last year of complicity in 5,000 murders

There were 3,000 guards at Stutthof concentration camp alone, and only 50 were convicted. Bruno Dey was convicted of complicity in mass murder there last year and given a suspended sentence,

Only last week, a Nazi secretary at the Stutthof camp, Irmgard Furchner, was due to go on trial north of Hamburg but escaped from a nursing home hours beforehand.

She was eventually caught in Hamburg and her trial was rescheduled for 19 October. She was released from custody earlier this week.