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Terror's Children

Screencap of "Terror’s Children (2003)"

Screencap of "Terror’s Children (2003)"

Question: I would like to know who picked the title of the movie: the New York Times or the filmmakers or those who gave the funds? Or the Discovery Channel which wanted a very catchy title for the United States? And second, not to do disservice to the children, but they are innocent and at best, in terms of the background, it should have been children of war on Afghanistan.

Obaid: I think our concept was these children are terrorized by the situations that they live in, not necessarily that they are terrorists themselves; these people are victims of terror in their own right, in each family. When war happened, and most of these refugees went from Afghanistan to Pakistan, we thought it was a situation in which they were terrorized. So it is not in the terrorist concept but I do understand, when you watch the film, it seems a little difficult to imagine the title. But if you look at the context that we decided to put it in, it was a very different context than what you think it is.

Question: We have our own refugee problem here in New York. I am referring to the massive deportation of Muslim men after 9/11 and to the special registration program that's been implemented. Is Human Rights Watch documenting the affect of the deportations on children here that face living 10 years without their fathers? We are doing a documentary about the separation of the family and I would like to know if the UN or Human Rights Watch is working something similar, and if so, whom would we be able to talk to about that, about the children?

Zia-Zarifi: The general issue of the expulsion of the Muslim community in the United States and special attention being paid to them is something Human Rights Watch has looked at quite considerably and in some detail. But at the risk of sounding legalistic, there is a distinction between that issue, which is significant, and refugees as such. Refugee of course is a term that people use but it is also a term of art and of law and in legal terms, it refers to people who have escaped their home country and are seeking refuge in another country and as such are subject to a very extensive legal regime, internationally, as refugees. They have special rights and special protections. And the children that we saw in this film are in this latter sort. Although the questions that you raised, is something we are looking at but it is very distinct from the problems here, I think.

Bhattacharjee: The Convention on the Rights of the Child prevents separation of children from their families. So that is one bit of information. And secondly, whom to approach? There is a treaty body committee, called the Committee on the Rights of the Child, with whom there is a communication mechanism. If the family writes to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the committee can take up the issue after all legal resources have been exhausted. That is the time when the committee can ask the government concerned if it is a party to the Treaty on the Rights of the Child. The United States is not a party to the Treaty on the Rights of the Child.