President Santos Demands That Illegal Groups Release Recruited Children
By Dialogo July 28, 2011
President Juan Manuel Santos demanded that illegal armed groups release the children they have recruited to their ranks, as a demonstration that they truly want peace.
“That would be a demonstration of peace that the administration would receive as a true gesture signifying an intention to attain peace,” the President said at the presentation of the “Mambrú Does Not Go to War” campaign on 22 July in Bogotá.
From Bolívar Square, where the Office of the Presidential High Counselor for Reintegration launched the campaign, which takes its name from a traditional children’s song, President Santos sent the message in the belief that the recruitment of children for war is one of the worst human-rights violations.
“I want to take this opportunity to send a very clear message to the illegal armed groups: if they really want peace, as all of us Colombians want it, they have to start to make some gestures, such as releasing kidnapping victims, such as ceasing to recruit children, such as releasing all the children they have recruited to their ranks,” he said.
The president maintained that with the “Mambrú Does Not Go to War” campaign, the country is crying out to the illegal armed groups to tell them that we do not want any more recruitment of children, but that children should instead be able to enjoy their rights, “because that is what makes us a country with a future, with well-being, and that is what each and every Colombian should be committed to.”
He said that ending the recruitment of children “would be a demonstration of peace that the administration would receive as a true gesture signifying an intention to attain peace.”
According to the head of state, 47 percent of all those demobilized from guerrilla and paramilitary groups (around twenty-five thousand) were recruited as children.
“For this reason, all of us Colombians should not rest a single minute until Mambrú does not go to war, but instead dances hip-hop,” President Santos concluded.