Last week, the University of Southampton joined the growing list of Universities who have decided to take a stance against investments in the arms trade. In this article Sebastian, Odell of Southampton University explains what’s happened and how students forced the university into taking action.
When Nicolás was 17 he was forced to kill eight of his friends.
"It hurt to kill them, obviously," Nicolás said, bowing his head as his voice started to tremble. "But an order is an order. I couldn't think about that."
Nicolás had been with Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since he was 12. Some of his condemned brothers in arms were as young as 14. Their crimes included trying to desert, and falling asleep during lookout. One had ruined the camp's food. Burning rice is an executable offence in the jungle. Refusing to carry out the executions would have got Nicolás killed himself.
Nicolás is able to tell the tale because, a year later in April 2015, he deserted himself.
Travelling the world, getting a free education, and having rent and food payed for sounds like a pretty good deal. The only catch: being used as a tool for an imperial system based on violence and oppression, suffer from PTSD as a likely result, and would then not be helped as your condition would worsen. This kind of deal was exactly what the soldiers recruiting at my school were offering.
Standing proud in their uniforms, the soldiers offered a variety of brochures to students that stopped by their stand. Beside them was a poster that looked like a scene from the latest action movie portraying special forces with assault rifles. To most, there is not much of a problem up to now. But let me tell you a story:
Fewer than 20 countries worldwide still allow their armed forces to recruit young people from age 16. The UK is among them; it is the only major military power and the only European state to recruit from such a young age.
Across British society – from children’s organisations to veterans to parliamentary committees – this policy is now being challenged. Most of the public agree that change is due – only one in seven thinks that 16 is an acceptable age to train as a soldier.
Despite this widespread unease, a number of common misconceptions still lead many 16 and 17 year olds to leave their education early and enlist. Here, we examine these ‘myths’ in light of the evidence available (click the link below to see the full report).
Even if a bullet passes through my chest My mission remains carved in my heart Brothers, let’s follow this path [Roar! Roar! Roar! Roar!] Roar with animal spirit Look to the bravest general of them all Walk from here toward the site of combat
China’s military has released a rap video in order to lure more recruits
Through articles, images, survey data and interviews, Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It documents the seeds of war that are planted in the minds of young people in many different countries. However, it also explores the seeds of resistance to this militarisation that are being sown resiliently and creatively by numerous people. READ MORE