German Armed Forces Recruiting Minors on the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers

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Last week the Bundeswehr (the German Armed Forces), had a stall at a school's job fair in Bad Saulgau, Germany. The event took place on 12 February 2016, the very same day which marks the anniversary of the signing of a protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that forbids the use of children in conflict, and is being commemorated as Red Hand Day, or the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers.
In response to military's presence at the job fair, peace activists from Baden-Württemberg organised an action in front of the school, combining the Red Hand Day with their usual work against the German Armed Forces' presence at schools. As part of their action they informed students and public about their campaign to demilitarize schools in Germany and stop the recuitment of under 18-year-olds by the Bundeswehr. 

'Child Soldiers' in the German Armed Forces

In Germany the Armed Forces can recruit 17-year-olds, although these recruits would be "child soldiers" under the terms of the Paris Principles. What is more striking is the Bundeswehr's massive campaigning to convince under 18-year-olds to join their forces. The Bundeswehr's budget for its campaigns focusing directly on the recruitment of young people amounts to millions of Euros. According to activists the amount spent by the military for this purpose last year was €35 million.

In repsonse to this massive campaigning by the Bundeswehr, activists from Baden-Württemberg initiated a campaign, No School for German Armed Forces - Learning for Peace (Schulfrei für die Bundeswehr - Lernen für den Frieden), which focuses on the military influence on schools in Baden-Württemberg. They take actions against the military presence at schools and campaign for military-free schools and education. As part of this aim they organised an action in front of the job fair last week on Red Hand Day. 

The activists had a huge paper banner on which the young people could leave a hand mark with red finger paint, and circulated flyers with information about Red Hand Day and their campaign. Benno Malte Fuchs, an activist from the No School for German Armed Forces - Lerning for Peace campaign, told Antimili-Youth that they were not allowed in the school by the principal and performed their action outside, in front of the school. 

Other Actions in Germany 

Aside from the action in Bad Saulgau, peace activists from Kassel and Frankfurt also took actions and organise events on the same day. See more from their events here.  Also see the German Alliance Against Child Soldiers (Deutsches Bündnis Kindersoldaten) and their campaign against the recruitment of under 18-year-olds in Germany here

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