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Although a de facto bilateral cease-fire has been in effect since 2011, the movement is still militarily active, operational and can call on several thousand combatants. It has been fighting for self-determination for the Kurds in Iran since the late 1990s, and some of its combatants are currently alongside other Kurdish armed groups fighting against Islamic State on Mount Sinjar.The YRK–HPJ has admitted to having young combatants fighting in its ranks in the past; by signing this commitment it has publicly formalized its current policy of preventing children under 18 years old from taking part in hostilities and of protecting them from the effects of the armed conflict.
The YRK–HPJ has activated a provision in the Deed of Commitment: a new category of non-militarily active YRK–HPJ membership will be created; youths aged between 16 and 18 will only be allowed to join this category and solely on a voluntarily basis.“We will make every effort to ensure that all 16–18-year-olds are separated and kept away from combat zones,” said Aryan Are (HPJ).“We are signing this Deed of Commitment because we believe that the future of our society requires respect for human dignity and educated children, especially in a region where violations of human rights and humanitarian norms are common.”Elisabeth Decrey Warner, Geneva Call’s president, added, “We are very pleased to have received this commitment today, from a region which is severely affected by armed conflict and violence. »