Fighters for the Future

It is often forgotten that children make up a vast number of victims in war. All one have to do is survey the war torn areas of African, Asia, and the Middle East to be reminded of this most unfortunate reality. The cause of death is not just violence, but also its remnants: unexploded munitions, environmental contamination, disease, maimed bodies, homelessness, poverty, and abandonment. And the Chechen-Jordanian writer, Murad Batal Shishani, has done us a service to remind us that Chechnya is no different.

The health statistics on the catastrophic conditions need no reiteration here. You can read them for yourself. What is an additional concern is how, and one can probably make a similar suggestion about Iraq and the West Bank, war and violence in the present is breeding the future generation of soldiers preconditioned in childhood to the realities of war. Thus writes Shishani:

Chechnya’s population under the age of 18 constitutes almost half of Chechen society and was born and raised after 1990, which means that these children, half of the population, have only known war in their country. This has implications in terms of the psychological tendencies caused by living in an environment of war. This brings back the focus to the poisoning incident in Chechnya. Most of the affected children were girls, because they have been far more affected both psychologically and physically by the war and are in a more vulnerable condition. According to some experts, this is a partial explanation for the occurrence of female suicide bombers.

A study conducted by Chechen psychologists Kahapt Akhmedova and Kuri Adisova has indicated an increase in aggressive tendencies as a result of war. The study was conducted on children inside the Chechen Republic and refugee camps. The children were asked to make drawings that helped reflect the effects of the war in terms of emotional suffering, increased aggressive tendencies (reflected through concepts of fighting and vengeance) and constant fear among children.

CONCLUSIONS: In an interview with Medina Akhmedova, a 15-year-old Chechen orphan whose parents had died in the first and second wars, she talked of her desire and ambition to study law to fight “injustice” and “defend orphans”. This child’s words are a clear indication of the injustice felt by young Chechen generations who have lived in a state of war all their childhood, and many have lost one of their parents or both. While most psychological studies hypothetically provide a link between the increase in extremist tendencies and frustration, in Chechnya this is proven by empirical studies.

Further comment is not necessary.