MNLF 'child warriors' detained in Zambo City
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2013 - 11:05am

MANILA, Philippines - The police have also arrested and detained suspected child warriors of the faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari that infiltrated villages in Zamboanga City.

Human Rights Watch's (HRW) Carlos Conde said he personally saw three child warriors in a cramped detention cell in Zamboanga City.

"The day before the clashes started, 15-year-old Hassan’s grandfather took him from their village on Basilan Island in the southern Philippines to attend what his grandfather described as a “peace rally” in nearby Zamboanga City. Three days later, I encountered Hassan in a cramped Zamboanga jail cell along with young menarrested for being alleged members of the Moro National Liberation Front," Conde said.

He also said the "other alleged child soldiers include Kiram, 14, and Abdul, 17, who had spent five days in police custody when I met them on Wednesday, handcuffed to three adults inside a police station."

Conde said that Hassan denies he is a combatant for the MNLF and he had been moved to a youth detention center.

The HRW said that armed groups, including the MNLF, should not recruit anyone under the age of 18, according to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

It also said that the government has also violated its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child which the Philippines ratified in 1990.

"If these children have indeed been used in the fighting by the MNLF, they are entitled to psychological services and assistance in social reintegration," the group said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that as of 6 a.m. Saturday, a total of 103 people, including 10 civilians, have been killed since Misuari's supporters attacked villages in Zamboanga City last September 9.

A total of 113,389 people have also been displaced by the conflict and a total of 10,160 houses have been razed to the ground by the rebels.

ARMED CONFLICT BASILAN ISLAND CARLOS CONDE HASSAN HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH INVOLVEMENT OF CHILDREN MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT COUNCIL NUR MISUARI RIGHTS OF THE CHILD ZAMBOANGA CITY
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