Beyond the dichotomies of a coercion and voluntary recruitment, Afghan unaccompanied minors unveil their recruitment process in Iran
Abstract: By shedding light on accounts from unaccompanied Afghan asylum-seeking minors in Sweden who were child soldiers in Syria, this thesis explores and examines their narratives and their involvement in the civil war in Syria. The research aims to create a deeper understanding of how these children themselves made sense of their participation in the war by answering the following questions: How were the children approached by the recruiters? What kind of reasons for joining the war are put forward by the recruiters and what strategies do the children encounter: a) economic; b) identity formation; c) social deprivation; d) feeling of vulnerability; e) militarization; f) mental development; g) ideology/ religious-sectarian; or all together? How do the children perceive these encounters and make sense of their recruitment to the Shiite Fatemiyoun Brigade? To which extent has the ideology of Shi’ism played an important role for them in joining the Syrian War? This is a qualitative study based on in-depth interviews which combines procedures from two approaches and techniques: an ethnographic approach and a narrative approach that explores the interviewees’ experiences in a period of time and also generates detailed insights. Despite the fact that none of the respondents testified for being recruited at gunpoint or having been ill-treated, the respondents emphasized that they were forced to join due to the bad circumstances they were living in. In addition, many similarities with other cases regarding child soldiering in several countries have been explored in this thesis, for instance factors related to the socio- economic context and the experiences that are related to the children’s development processes. Differences can be located in various details regarding ideologies and indoctrination since the respondents did not share the politico-religious purposes of the recruiters.
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