Libya’s Boy Scouts Dig Graves

by J-Touchette

This statue located in Washington honors the international Boy Scout movement started by Robert Baden-Powell in 1908.

When children dig graves, it’s a signal that something must be wrong.

This sign of the times comes from Libya where boy scouts have been digging graves for the fallen for months now. Their pressed white uniforms are discolored from working long hours everyday; hands calloused by hard labor not meant for people so young. At the beginning of the uprising in Libya, the scouts would dig out an average of 60 graves a day. Now they average 12 per day as a routine settles into the fighting.

Boy Scouts were one of the few international organizations Ghadafi’s regime would allow for the grim task, because they were politically neutral. The position also keeps the boys from the front lines.

The boys use hoes and shovels to finish the graves after an excavator digs much of the dirt from a burial site. They also build rectangular compartments from concrete blocks.

The graves are sometimes decorated with elaborate wreaths, or bird feeders. Many plots contain no markings except a four-digit number scratched into wet concrete, indicating one of the many anonymous dead in the chaos of recent months.

The graveyard, even though it is the size of several football fields, will soon be full if the fighting continues.

The scouts have also been joined by some who have returned from the battlefield, determined to see Ghadafi taken down. While burying his cousin, one of the men said, “We lost him, and for what? For Gadhafi’s departure. That’s why we lost so many people. We cannot accept less.”

The boy scouts in Libya used to go camping, hold fundraisers, but mostly they played football. Six months of this forced labor has matured these boys to men and quickly ended the innocence of youth.

Read more:

In Gadhafi’s Libya, Boy Scouts become gravediggers | The Globe and Mail

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