Saturday, February 13, 2010

UNESCO report focuses on school attacks by Maoists

New Delhi February 14, 2010

A UNESCO global report has equated the CPI (Maoist)'s attacks on schools in Naxalite-dominated states with the systematic targeting of educational institutions by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The report, titled 'Education under Attack 2010', cited these regions as places where "attacks intensified dramatically" over the past two years. The report documents the Maoist attacks on schools in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. It also highlights the large number of children recruited by Naxalites in their armed struggle against the state and calls for international investigation into the issue.

The report says attacks on schools and teachers are "well publicised and the perpetrators" have "made public their intention to attack schools via published threats and orders". The report says 300 schools were blown up by extremists between 2006 and 2009. There was also an "increase" in the recruitment of children by Maoists between 2005 and 2007. Fourteen and 15-year-olds were recruited into armed squads in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The report adds that armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir were reportedly actively recruiting children as young as 13 or 14 from schools and mosques.

Citing a Human Rights Watch report into the Naxalite attacks on schools in these states, it documents in detail the attacks on school property and buildings. The report says the Maoists, in 2006, defended blowing up school buildings claiming that they tended to be occupied by security forces such as the CRPF. The UNESCO report, however, says in many cases, they blew up schools long after they were no longer being used as camps. To prevent such incidents and suggesting a "deterrent", the UNESCO has called for such crimes to be taken up by the International Criminal Court. Describing this intensifying trend as "worrying", it has recommended that international pressure must be exerted on states to take action against the Naxalites.

The attacks by these non-state actors, according to the report, has a much wider impact; it is intended to restrict the individual and thereby society's growth and fulfillment for a just social order.

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