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Geopolitics

Kurdish Forces In Syria Continue To Recruit Child Soldiers

Kurdish commanders have broken earlier pledges to stop the forced recruitment of children, saying it is necessary to protect individual homes.

A young Syrian Kurd near a Syrian Kurdish soldier
A young Syrian Kurd near a Syrian Kurdish soldier
Ahmad Khalil

RMELAN — After being called out by rights groups last summer, Kurdish military forces pledged to end their use of child soldiers and to protect them from armed conflict. But 10 months later, witnesses and relatives say Kurdish forces continue to recruit schoolchildren.

Yasser al-Hassan, 46, an engineer in the oil fields of Rmelan, a town in the northeastern al-Hassakah Governorate, says that armed boys and girls man checkpoints between al-Qamishli and Rmelan. "Many children died at the fronts in Ras al-Ein, Yarubia and Hassakeh," he says, adding that he had personally attended the funerals of a number of child soldiers.

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Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

People walk in Tianzifang, located in Huangpu District, a well-known tourist attraction in Shanghai.

Lili Bai

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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