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Scotland: Amnesty International launches child soldiers exhibitions at the Edinburgh Festival

This weekend sees the start of an innovative collaboration between Amnesty International, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Museum of Childhood. ‘Armour Boys’ and ‘Lost Childhood’ are two exhibitions that explore the issues of child soldiers and arms proliferation.

'Armour Boys' at the Royal Scottish Academy features five child-like figures dressed in suits of armour cast in bronze by internationally renowned sculptor Laura Ford. Unlike knights in traditional suits of armour, the figures look small, slumped, pathetic and helpless conjuring a feeling of impossible weight and claustrophobia. They are a far cry from traditional suits of armour displayed standing upright in museums and grand halls.

This exhibition is linked to ‘Lost Childhood’ is a photographic exhibition of images of child soldiers from around the world at the Museum of Childhood in the Royal Mile. The photographs are by a group of courageous photojournalists from Panos Pictures including Martin Adler, who was recently shot in the back while covering a demonstration in Somalia.

Amnesty International’s Programme Director, Scotland, Rosemary Burnett said:

“We are excited that this collaboration will provide new ways of engaging Children's rights and young people with human rights issues. We think it’s important that young people are aware of the very different childhoods experienced around the world”

“Not only is the practise of abducting and “recruiting” child soldiers widespread; so are its consequences. Former child soldiers face months of intensive rehabilitation before they can hope to enjoy what we think of as a normal childhood.”

In 1998 it was estimated that there are 300,000 Children's rights active in armed combat around the world. They are recruited into rebel and terrorist groups and national armies. More than 50 countries around the world actively recruit Children's rights into their military forces. Of the 366 armed groups in the word, 157 use child soldiers.

At least six boys between the ages of 13 and 16 have been captured by the US forces in the “war on terrorism”, and are currently in Guantanamo Bay

These two exhibitions are part of a programme of talks, events, workshops and documentaries on the theme of Children's rights at war, including special performances by invited guest, former child soldier and ‘rising star of African hip-hop’ (The Guardian) Emanuel Jal.

A multi-arts workshop involving primary schools will result in an installation of artworks by the school pupils in the Royal Scottish Academy library from Thursday 24th August till 10th September. An education pack has been devised by arts education workers and Amnesty International on the theme of child soldiers and is available on request.

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