23 June 2012

Fundasaun Mahein (FM): Guns Are Not Toys

22 June 2012 This week Fundasaun Mahein (FM) came across yet another picture posted on a social networking website of a civilian showcasing what was confirmed as a real assault rifle. More worrying this time, the person in the picture, was a young girl no older than 10 years old, daughter of a PNTL officer.

There seems to be a growing trend of security actors in this country, handing out their guns to relatives and civilians to pose for pictures, which are then posted online. This is both worrying and unlawful, as the officers concerned cannot control the actions of untrained and in this case under aged individuals weapons in hand.

Feto sivil kaer ho pistola hasai filmajen
Guns are no toys and FM is pointing out the obvious when stating that guns in the hands of civilians and notably children are a recipe for disaster. Accidents can happen. The handling of guns entails training and allowing children to play around can have tragic consequences. Additionally, showcasing your weapon to your child and storing it at home, risks the situation of curiosity leading a child to search for it and handling it in an unsupervised context.

Furthermore, we already live in a highly traumatized society, and the handling of guns by children doesn’t help and could be seen as psychological torture. This also applies to plastic guns, as some look incredibly real. Their handling perpetuates a psychology of warfare and struggle, Timorese were so accustomed to for generations, and trivializes the use of guns. Ten years on since the restoration of our independence, we are desperately trying to firmly cement peace in this country. One easy step is to keep weapons far away from children. As in other peaceful countries, let children be children and let them play with regular toys, such as cars, dolls and balls. Lets do away with our post conflict nation image.

Feto sivil lorik kilat boot hasai foto
FM once again calls for stricter gun controls on members of both the PNTL and the F-FDTL. We also ask that commanders take these incidents seriously, and that appropriate punishment be given to officers who are caught lending their weapons or even uniforms to civilians.

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