Military theme park in Iran markets war, violence
A military theme park where children play with weaponry has opened in Iran's city of Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan
A military theme park where children play with weaponry has opened in Iran's city of Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan, for the second year in a row.
The local authorities called it the “park of the revolution’s children.” In the park, the children are trained in shooting virtual fixed and moving targets. The targets carry the flag of countries which Iran view as their enemies, including the US and Israel.
The Iranian-speaking website shahrvand-yar commented on opening this park by asking: “What future do you expect to these eight-year-old children who are being trained on carrying and using weapons at this age? What do you think the aim of these drills is?”
Meanwhile, Hamid Sadeqi, the chief of the department which manages this park, said: “In this park, we try to train children on intelligence group work in the fields of war and sacred defense (of land) through playing games and practicing their hobbies.”
Some of the photos that are taken at the park show children virtually firing at their “enemies.”
The children are divided into groups and each group has a military leader whom they must follow his orders. He leads them through different rooms such as “the revolution room” and the “Iraqi-Iranian war room.” As they play, they cross over a virtual mine field and barbed wars and clash with a virtual enemy.
The designers of the park tried to copy Iranian military sites which resemble those which existed during the Iraqi-Iranian war and which Iran celebrates its anniversary this week.
Iranian activists circulated photos of this park on social networking websites and some of them compared these drills to what the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organization is doing as it recruits and trains children on fighting and plants hatred and violence in them.
Iran has recruited thousands of children and sent them to war fronts during the Iranian-Iraqi war. The military propaganda encouraged children to volunteer in the ranks of the Basij affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Many of these children were killed while others were held captive. Late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein however released them later in response to calls made by international humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross.
International organizations accuse Tehran of recruiting Afghan children to fight in Syria through the Fatimids militias which the Iranian Revolutionary Guards formed and which includes Shiite Afghans. During the flow of refugees into Europe in 2015, an Arabic-speaking Swedish radio station reported that Afghan children arrived in Sweden and other European countries unaccompanied by their parents and sought refuge.
The report confirmed that most of these children had arrived from Iran and not from Afghanistan, adding that they escaped to Europe out of fear of being recruited by Iran to fight in Syria. In 2015 alone, 11,000 Afghan children, from among Iran's resident and unaccompanied by their parents, arrived in Sweden.
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