Iranians react angrily to education minister comments on sending students into war
LONDON: Iranians have reacted angrily to comments made by the country’s education minister Mohammad Bathaee about the regime’s willingness to send schoolchildren to war.
In a speech on May 10, Bathaie said: “We have 14 million students in school, and they are willing to sacrifice their lives if we need them, such as in the period of the sacred defense,” making a reference to the Iran-Iraq War.
The Iranian Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child condemned the minister’s statements.
And Iranians also took to social media to vent their anger at the comments. Prominent singer Zepa Murmalki said: “This is the minister in charge of educating the next generation of Iranians.” Others claimed the minister’s own son had not performed military service.
Tensions between Iran and the US, and its Gulf allies, have been rising in recent weeks. The US has sent further military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and its interests in the region.
It is not the first time Iran has been warned about the use of child soldiers. Human Rights Watch has consistently accused the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of sending children of Afghan refugees to fight in Syria.
And a report in UK newspaper the Mirror earlier this week revealed that Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen have been accused of luring child soldiers to fight by giving them keys and promising them it is to “enter paradise” when they die in the country’s ongoing conflict.
In December 2018, a senior Houthi military official acknowledged to Associated Press that they had inducted 18,000 child soldiers into their army — some as young as 10-years-old — since the beginning of the Yemeni conflict in 2014.