German MP on Bundeswehr’s Underage Soldiers: ‘Army is Not a Playground’

© REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch/File PhotoGerman Bundeswehr armed forces soldiers of the 371st armoured infantry battalion march during a media day of the NATO drill 'NOBLE JUMP 2015' at the barracks in Marienberg April 10, 2015
German Bundeswehr armed forces soldiers of the 371st armoured infantry battalion march during a media day of the NATO drill 'NOBLE JUMP 2015' at the barracks in Marienberg April 10, 2015 - Sputnik International
Over 2,000 minors serve in the ranks of the German army and undergo serious military training where they, among other things, learn to use combat weapons. In an interview with Sputnik Germany, German politicians Evrim Sommer (Left Party) and Dr. Fritz Felgentreu (SPD) shared their opinions about this trend.

The practice of recruiting teenagers to join the ranks of the Bundeswehr is wrong, German politician Evrim Sommer,said, criticizing the German Ministry of Defense's PR campaigns to attract young people in social networks.

"The army is not a playground for adventure games. I believe that one shouldn't advertise death. Twelve-year-olds mustn't be enticed with service in the Bundeswehr," the Left Party's MP told Sputnik Germany.

According to the latest data, the German army needs 20,000 new recruits per year. Therefore, over the last couple of years, the Bundeswehr has been actively addressing young people via advertising campaigns in schools and online.

READ MORE: Germany's Child Soldiers: Bundeswehr Recruits Record Number of Minors in 2017

Member of the Social Democratic Party Fritz Felgentreu supported Sommer's point of view that such a practice is unacceptable.

"The number of underage servicemen of both sexes exceeded the 2016 record of 1,907 soldiers and, increased by 221 in 2017 up to 2,128, a trend that must be stopped," Felgentreu told Sputnik.

A German Bundeswehr soldier of the 122th Infantry Battalion - Sputnik International
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Both politicians demand that the Bundeswehr must recruit only servicemen who are older than 18 into its ranks.

"Mrs. von der Leyen [Germany's Defense Minister] undermines the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and we consider this wrong," Sommer said.

Germany, along with some other countries, signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention which allows recruiting people as young as 16 to serve in the national army. However, most countries still voluntarily adhere to the rule that one must be at least 18 years old at the moment of recruitment.

"I am critical of the fact that teenagers are taught to use weapons, and can be sent on Bundeswehr missions abroad immediately after they become adults," Sommer stated.

The word "child soldiers" is often associated with infamous underage militants holding Kalashnikov assault rifles in their hands, who can be found in crisis regions all around the world, but only a few people would connect this term with the German army.

READ MORE: Defense Minister Calls to Renew Deployment of German Troops Abroad

"I believe Germany is far from being a role model if it recruits servicemen under 18. Because in our development work we, again, strive for an international ban on the use of child soldiers. And this deprives us of credibility," Sommer concluded.

The Bundeswehr has never trained as many minors as it did last year, the Rheinische Post newspaper reported earlier, citing the country's Ministry of Defense.

The share of underage young women among soldiers was revealed to be particularly high. It has increased almost eightfold since 2011.

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