UNICEF Condemns Use of Children by Shining Path

By Dialogo
April 27, 2012

UNICEF the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime delegate in Peru condemned the kidnapping and use of children in violent actions by Shining Path on April 25.

In recent days, Military reports have indicated that Shining Path is using minors in attacks perpetrated against Military personnel in the Apurimac and Ene Rivers Valley (VRAE), a jungle area that has served the group as a refuge for two decades.

“The use of children and adolescents by Shining Path constitutes a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and places them in a situation of extreme vulnerability that affects their emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development,” UNICEF specified.

The organization asserted that the CRC “expressly prohibits involving and using children and adolescents in actions of this kind, both by armed groups and by armed forces.”

The use of children and adolescents is not new in Peru and goes back to the beginning of the internal war unleashed in 1980 by Shining Path, which was defeated and dismembered in the mid-1990s with the arrest of its top leader, Abimael Guzmán, who is serving a life sentence.

“Shining Path has always had children, between 11 and 13 years old, whom it used to call ‘pioneer children’ or ‘little pioneers,’ whom it obtained by forced recruitment in Amazonian and Andean communities in the 1980s, with the aim of turning them into combatants,” sociologist Jaime Antezana, who studies political violence in Peru, told AFP.

“Currently, what the Shining Path leaders active in the Apurimac and Ene Rivers Valley are doing is reproducing an old Shining Path practice,” he added.

The expert was referring to the Quispe Palomino brothers: Víctor, Jorge, and Martín, who head the Shining Path columns in that extensive jungle valley, a coca-producing area where they act in alliance with gangs of drug traffickers, according to the government and analysts of political violence.