Nov 25, 2008

Chechen Republic of Ichkeria: Russian Landmines

Active ImageNo halt for landmine use by Burma and Russia – Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and Karenni State suffer.
Below is an article published by World Bulletin:
Turkey, Greece and Belarus have all violated an international treaty by not destroying landmine stockpiles, and 15 other countries including Britain will miss their 2009 clearance targets, a watchdog said on Friday [21 November 2008].

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) said that more than 5,400 people were killed or maimed last year [2007] by anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other ordnance that can lie dormant for decades before exploding.

In its 1,155-page Landmine Monitor Report, the coalition of non-governmental groups said that while trade in landmines is now "virtually non-existent," many countries are moving too slowly to get rid of the crippling weapons.

Denmark, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Britain and Venezuela, who are among those seeking more time to clear their mined areas, should all have finished by now, said the ICBL, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

Britain has not even begun mine-sweeping in the Falkland Islands where it fought a war with Argentina in 1982 and Venezuela has said it gains some benefit from mines that keep Colombian guerrillas off its territory, according to Stuart Casey-Maslen, editor of the Landmine Monitor.

"It is not acceptable that (these) countries ... have failed to clear a single mined area in the last nine years and expect to be granted extensions," he told reporters ahead of a Nov. 24-28 [2008] meeting of the pact's 156 signatory states in Geneva.

Turkey and Greece have a combined stockpile of 4.2 million anti-personnel mines, and Belarus has 3.4 million remaining to destroy under the Convention on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Convention.

Russia, US and China outside of pact

Though the countries will not face direct sanctions for missing their deadlines, Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch said they would face diplomatic pressure to quickly finish the job: "The international stigma against these weapons is powerful."

Nearly 42 million mines have been destroyed under the pact, which was struck in 1997 and came into force in 1999.

In the past year, Afghanistan, Burundi and Sudan completed their stockpile destruction, and France, Malawi and Swaziland completed their mine clearance operations, the ICBL said.

China, Russia and the United States -- the countries with the largest mine stockpiles -- remain outside the pact. But Goose said that Laos, Lebanon, Mongolia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates appeared readying to join.

Myanmar and Russia, neither of which are signatories to the treaty, were the only two governments reported to have used anti-personnel mines in the past year [2008].

The ICBL said Myanmar's military forces have continued to use mines extensively in its Karen and Pegu regions, and Russia has continued to use anti-personnel mines in Chechnya.

It said it was unable to investigate or confirm reports that Russia and Georgia used the weapons in their conflict in August [2008], which both sides have denied. It also could not verify "serious allegations" of their use by Sri Lankan armed forces, it said.