Mines Action Canada condemns russian use of cluster bombs in Georgia



    OTTAWA, Aug. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Mines Action Canada, in solidarity with
the 300 other organizations worldwide that make up the Cluster Munition
Coalition (CMC), strongly condemns Russia's use of cluster bombs in Georgia
just three months after 107 nations agreed to ban the weapon.
    "Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers. When 107 nations came together
to ban them this May they showed the best of what humanity can be. Russia's
use of cluster bombs in civilian areas in the face of this international
action shows a callous disregard for humanity," said Thomas Nash, Coordinator
of the Cluster Munition Coalition. "Our campaign is mobilizing around the
world to call on Russia to stop to the use of cluster munitions now. All
nations on board the global ban should echo our call."
    The use of RBK-250 cluster bombs has been confirmed by Human Rights
Watch, a partner organization serving on the leadership of the CMC with Mines
Action Canada. RBK-250 are air dropped cluster munitions, each containing
30 PTAB 2.5M submunitions
    The first confirmed strike took place on 12 August in the town of Ruisi
in the Kareli district, where it left three killed and five wounded. On the
same day, a cluster strike in the centre of the town of Gori left at least
eight civilians dead and dozens injured. Dutch journalist Stan Storimans was
among the dead. Israeli journalist Zadok Yehezkeli was seriously wounded and
evacuated to Israel for treatment after surgery in Tbilisi.
    Photographic evidence on file with Human Rights Watch shows a civilian in
Ruisi holding a PTAB submunition without realising it could explode at the
slightest touch. This incident highlights the dire need to educate immediately
the population of Georgia about the dangers of these submunition "duds."
    Russia's use of cluster munitions highlights the need for all countries
to join the majority of past users and current stockpilers and sign the treaty
banning cluster munitions when it opens for signature in Oslo on December 3,
2008.
    "Canada took a strong positive stand this year, in Dublin in May,
supporting the establishment of a new norm in international humanitarian
behavior and outlawing, forever, the use of cluster bombs", said Mines Action
Canada's Executive Director, Paul Hannon. "It is imperative that the Canadian
government upholds that commitment now by unequivocally condemning Russia's
use of these indiscriminate, banned weapons."
    With this use of cluster munitions, Russia confirms it is part of a
limited and dwindling group of states that cling to the use of indiscriminate
weapons such as antipersonnel mines and cluster bombs. Russia joins Israel as
the only country known to have used cluster bombs since the US and UK used
them in the invasion of Iraq five years ago.
    "Just as the use of antipersonnel landmines has become almost
non-existent, we are confident that international outrage over Russia's use of
cluster bombs will deepen the growing stigma against the weapon," said Human
Rights Watch's Steve Goose, Co-Chair of the CMC.
    Mines Action Canada and the CMC are calling on Russia to provide
information on the locations of cluster strikes in order to facilitate
clearance. Russia is obliged to provide data on use of all explosive ordnance
based on Protocol V of the Convention on Convention Weapons, which Russia
ratified this June. Russia did not participate in the Oslo Process by which
107 states adopted a treaty banning cluster munitions last May.
    Mines Action Canada and the CMC are also calling on Georgia, which
stockpiles RBK cluster bombs, to join the international process and to
renounce any use of the weapons in the current conflict.




For further information:

For further information: or interviews: Nancy Ingram, (613) 241-3777
(Office), (613) 851-5439; www.minesactioncanada.org/peoples_treaty

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