Save Children’s Lives by Stopping Illicit Weapons Worldwide

Emmanuel Jal is a hip-hop artist and humanitarian, as well as a former child solider.

Emmanuel Jal is a hip-hop artist and humanitarian, as well as a former child solider.

Below is an open letter from hip-hop artist, activist and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal, urging President Barack Obama to push for a strong Arms Trade Treaty at the U.N. conference this month. This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

In Sudan and around the world, children are forced into warfare. Many end up as child soldiers, forced to take lives and continue the cycle of violence that they have been born into. Child soldiers are found today in as many as 20 countries.

I was one of them. I was fortunate enough to have escaped to Kenya and found another life through music. But the lives of many children are cut short before they can escape. The most difficult part of this situation is that these children do not have a choice when they are introduced, often after they have been orphaned, to a perpetual war zone and raised by the harsh reality of the violence around them.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Children Left Out of Obama’s Inaugural Speech

Photo by Dominique Aubert/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by Dominique Aubert/AFP/Getty Images

The United States is not the only country where children are facing an epidemic of gun violence. While in the U.S., we continue to grapple with the tragic reality of children who routinely face gun violence in their communities and children who increasingly are the targets of mass shootings, in other places around the world, we see the heartbreaking consequences of children who also face the daily horrors of armed conflict, many forced to become soldiers.

During Monday’s inaugural address, President Obama said:

“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

US Weapons Against Egypt Protesters

Egypt tear gas protests

Egyptian protesters help man suffering from tear gas during clashes with riot police in Cairo on November 23, 2011 (Photo MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

There’s something wrong when on one hand Americans continue to stand up in support for Egyptians’ aspirations for human rights and on the other the US government supplies weapons to the very military regime that is attacking protesters.

And yet, as we approach the first anniversary of the Egyptian Jan. 25 uprising, activists are still facing attacks by military and security forces, and some of the tools the military are using bear the stamp, “Made in the USA.”

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

US Repeatedly Shipped Arms to Egyptian Security Forces Despite Lethal Crackdown

egypt tear gas

© Nameer Galal/Demotix

The Egyptian uprising is at a crucial point.  A new cabinet is in power, a new parliament elected, but what it adds up to is all in the air, particularly with the military today making waves about how it will take a leading role in writing the new constitution.

The American reaction, both governmental and popular, hasn’t been entirely helpful.  The latest distraction is panic over whether Islamists will use their electoral power to turn Egypt into another Iran.  Nicholas Kristof today presents a compelling rebuttal as to why Egypt will not take that route.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST