you can read the English transcript of Abdi, the former child
soldier from Somalia, who is featured in Children
was recruited by force, against my will. One evening while
we were watching a video show in my village three army sergeants
came. They checked whether we had identification cards and
asked if we wanted to join the army. We explained that we
were under age and hadn't got identification cards. But one
of my friends said he wanted to join. I said no and came back
home that evening but an army recruitment unit arrived next
morning at my village and demanded two new recruits. Those
who could not pay 3000 kyats had to join the army, they said.
I (my parent) could not pay, so altogether 19 of us were recruited
in that way and sent to Mingladon (an army training centre).'
were drugged and ordered to move forward on the battlefield.
We did not know what sort of drug or alcohol we were given
but we drank it because we were very tired, very thirsty and
hungry. We had walked for two whole days under very hot burning
sun. The hill (battlefield) had no shde, trees were burnt
and artillery shells were exploding everywhere. We were so
scared, very thristy and some of us collapsed due to over-tiredness.
But we were beaten from behind (by the officers) and had to
move forward. One got killed.'
would like to say to other child soldiers that they are still
teenagers and they have still got hope and their future can
be bright. The adult commanders are exploiting your naivety,
please do not lose your childhood as well as your future.'
Interviewer:'What message do you have for the adults
who are using child soldiers to fight for them?'
Abdi:'I would like to say to them, please let the teenagers
be free from the evil and stop being so cruel and unkind to
you have anything to say to your friends who are still fighting?'
Abdi:'I have many friends who are still in the militia.
But there are some who have accepted my advice and have stopped
and are now starting to study at school. I even tried to pay
their school fees to continue their education and to encourage
others to follow them.'