New Delhi, 5th August 2006 :
A strong group of hundreds of children under the banner of "Children for Peace and Peace for children" took out a "Peace March" to Raj Ghat (Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial). Demanding immediate ceasefire in Lebanon as well as condemning the terrorists’ attacks in Israel and elsewhere, these children they were joined by social activists, parliamentarians and people from all walks of life who vowed to work towards ending war and terrorism. Global March against Child Labour along with Bachapan Bachao Andolan, its core partner in India hosted the peace march and meeting.
“There is no single instance or trace in history where children have ever initiated any war. Then why are they subjected to become its worst victims”, asked Kailash Satyarthi, the Chairperson of Global March against Child Labour. He added, “How can one justify that the world community is not prepared to spend an additional 6 billion dollars to educate every child in the world when1,000 billion dollars are spent on military expenditure annually. No one can claim to be a good Jew, Hindu, Muslim or Christian by killing kids, crippling them or making them orphans. International community must take it as an act of urgency to immediately stop killings in Lebanon, Palestine and Israel.”
Child leaders including Ehsan, a 14 years old boy from Kashmir, who had to work as domestic child slave after his father was forcibly taken away by terrorists to Pakistan, 11 years old Devli, who worked in stone queries with her parents, Kinshu (12 years old boy) who worked as agricultural labourer, 12 years old child activist and leader Sheena addressed the meeting. They all strongly condemned the violence and asked to bring peace and stop war in the Middle East with immediate effect. Many of the children in this unique demand for peace were rescued and rehabilitated by Bachapan Bachao Andolan.
Mr. Ravi Prakash Verma, Member of Parliament said, “children are the worst victims of wars, insurgencies and terrorism.” He expressed his solidarity with the children and appealed to all parties to immediately restore peace in Lebanon.
Millions of children are caught in wars, conflicts, insurgencies, terrorism and intolerance, in which they are not mere bystanders, but innocent victims. Some fall victim to general onslaught against civilians; others die as part of calculated genocide. They suffer the trauma of sexual violence or multiple deprivations from armed conflict that exposes them to hunger, disease, paucity and humiliation. During the last one month, 620 civilians have been killed and another 3,225 have been injured in Lebanon. In Qana itself, 60 civilians were killed. One third of these civilians are innocent children. At least 750,000 people have been displaced from their homes, hundreds of thousands of children have been denied of their security, health, care, education and are victims of severe trauma. The images of these children appearing on TV screens are nothing but a shame on the face of human civilization.
There is an urgent need to put an end to armed conflicts, wars and terrorism affecting and involving children, limiting the inflated military expenditure and constructively steering it towards protection of the rights of children, especially for free and quality education for all. We all must support an immediate and long lasting ceasefire, to protect civilians and to enhance the political process.