In an open letter, we call on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to announce both short and long-term measures to support the fundamental human rights of young people. We ask that the importance of young people’s contributions to peace and security be recognized and supported through meaningful policy change.
It is estimated that 408 million young people live in areas affected by armed conflict or organized violence – that is roughly one in four. Many young people take on important roles such as community mobilizers, peacebuilders, mediators, and human rights defenders, these should be recognized. Around the world, we witness endless examples of young people putting their work and their lives on the line to make their communities safer.
In Pakistan, young peacebuilders have been accused of contributing to terrorism in the country. These accusations, have led to some being persecuted and forced to flee their homes. Even after fleeing persecution, the attacks by security forces have continued to affect their families. This has been experienced by Saba and Gulalai Ismail, co-founders of Aware Girls. Their organization, a partner of Peace Direct, was founded to empower young girls in Pakistan and prevent young people from joining terrorist organizations. Both Saba and Gulalai have sought asylum and are now safely in the US, but their parents have been accused of crimes they did not commit.
In Myanmar/Burma, millions of young women and men have mobilized in the streets. In an intergenerational civil disobedience movement that has spanned the country, they peacefully protest against the military coup. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Myanmar has highlighted that young people have “had a taste of freedom” and do not want their country and their future to regress under oppression with military rule.
According to the UN, 18 people were killed and dozens more injured on February 28th, when security forces opened fire on crowds. Attacks are likely to escalate, threatening the safety of those young people and their communities who remain affected.
Specifically, we ask that the State Department:
Read the full letter below.