03 December 2008

The Ban Bus "From the Balkans to Oslo", 1 October - 2 December 2008

On 1 October 2008 the Ban Bus embarked on an eight-week, 10,000 kilometer campaign trail through 18 countries in Europe to convince all governments to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. Beginning in Serbia and ending at the signing ceremony in Norway, the Ban Bus rallied public support for the treaty and turned the eyes of the world on governments who are resisting putting pen to paper.Read about actions and events that took place during the tour:Serbia, 1 - 3 October 2008The Ban Bus was successfully launched with a public event in the Republican Square in Belgrade on 1 October. The event was opened by regional director of Norwegian People's Aid Emil Jeremic. Australian photographer John Rodsted showed pictures from countries around the world where cluster munitions have been used, presenting the deadly legacy of cluster munitions in affected countries and highlighting with concrete examples how cluster munitions maim and kill civilians during and after conflict.Read more ...Macedonia, 5-7 October 2008

On 6 October 2008 The Ban Bus was set up on the main square in Macedonia's capital Skopje. Campaigners set up a photo exhibition documenting the civilian harm caused by cluster munitions and collected signatures for the People's Treaty.A press conference took place at 12pm, followed by a reception in the Holiday Inn, the main hotel in town.

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Greece, 9-16 October 2008

From 9 - 10 October the Ban Bus stopped in Athens. The Norwegian Ambassador hosted a luncheon at his personal residence to facilitate discussion between the Ban Bus team, representatives from the relevant ministries and NGO representatives. Guests included a member from the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Defense Affairs, a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a representative from the Ministry of Defense, two representatives of Amnesty International Greece, a member of the Medical Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims, the president of UNICEF Greece, and CMC campaigner Susan Morucci.

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Turkey, 18 October 2008

On 18 October the Ban Bus stopped in Istanbul and was welcomed in Taksim Square by a variety of Turkish civic society organisations. The Initiative for a Mine Free Turkey organized a press conference for the Ban Bus during which Muteber Ö?reten, Coordinator of the organisation, called on all governments in the world and especially the Turkish government to ban all cluster munitions and to come to Oslo to sign the Convention.

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Romania, 20-23 October 2008

On 21 October, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in partnership with FOND and PATRIR organized, a public forum at the Law Faculty in Bucharest on the occasion of the Ban Bus visit in Bucharest.The main speakers during the event were Mr. Øystein Hovdkinn - the Ambassador of Norway to Romania, Cristina Balan - Information Officer, UN Information Centre Bucharest, and the Ban Bus representatives. The purpose of the public event was to present the campaign to the national NGOs, public authorities, the national press and students.Read more ... Bulgaria, 24 October 2008The Ban Bus stopped in Sofia on 24 October. Ambassador Geoffrey Keating hosted a press conference at the Irish Embassy which was also attended by Tove Skarstein, Ambassador for Norway, and other representatives from the Italian, UK and Norwegian embassies, as well as representatives from UNDP and civil society.Read more ...Bosnia-Herzegovina, 27-29 October 2008The Ban Bus stopped in Sarajevo from 27 - 29 October and visited Norwegian People's Aid's Global Training Center for Mine Detection Dogs. John Rodsted, main speaker of the Ban Bus, had helped secure funding for the centre when it was virtually broke and on the verge of closing 10 years ago, and he talked about his first experiences at the centre.Read more ... Croatia, 30 October 2008The Ban Bus visited Zagreb on 30 October 2008. The action was organized by the Ban Bus team, with the help of two domestic non-governmental organizations - Mine Aid Croatia and Legalis. Events included a public action at Zagreb's central square where leaflets, brochures and badges were distributed, and the public could sign the Peoples' Treaty. Around 10 volunteers from Mine Aid Croatia and Legalis participated in the action. The action was also supported by many representatives of the Government, Embassies, media, IOs and NGOsRead more ...Italy, 31 October 2008The Ban Bus team stopped in Padua on 31 October. In the morning, they held a workshop for students at the Temple of Peace, one of the symbols of the city: the church was strongly bombed during World War II and more than 6500 civilians and soldiers are buried at the place. The workshop was attended by Tibisay Ambrosini (Italian Campaign To Ban Landmines) and Francesco Bicciato (town councilor for International Relations and Peace Politics).Read more ...Poland, 12-15 November 2008The Ban Bus came to Poland on 12-15 November 2008 to urge Poland to give up antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions. The team was accompanied by powerful advocates: Branislav Kapetanovic from the CMC and Firoz Ali Alizada the ICBL. Their hosts were: the Polish Red Cross (PCK), Amnesty International (AI), the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HF) and the Polish Forum for Persons with Disabilities (PFON).Poland is a producer and stockpiler of cluster munitions and does not intend to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo. It has also failed to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty which it had signed in 1997. Therefore the Polish campaign focused also on landmines.The first stop for the Ban Bus was the town of Katowice on November 12, for the opening of the Miss Landmine Exhibition at the University of Silesia. The ceremony, with an opening speech by the President of Katowice, was followed by a seminar on landmines and cluster munitions.Read more ...Lithuania, 17-18 November 2008The Ban Bus stopped in Vilnius, Lithuania from 17-18 November and the Irish embassy organized a press conference on arrival of the bus. The Ban Bus was set up in a public square where Mette handed out information materials to the public while fighting freezing temperatures, and the ice forming under the magnetic signs causing them to fall off. Visitors stopped constantly, asking questions and commenting on the photo exhibition.Read more ...Latvia, 20 November 2008On 20 November the Ban Bus arrived in Riga. The team gave a presentation at the Law School of the University of Riga and met representatives from the local NGO platform LAPAS who were very interested in the Ban Bus project and the issue of cluster munitions and considered the CCM a great opportunity for Latvia to play a positive role in the world.Read more ...Estonia, 24-25 November 2008From 24-25 November the Ban Bus stopped in Tallinn, Estonia and on arrival a snowstorm took the team by surprise. Nobody turned up for the press conference at the Irish embassy as most media were busy covering the storm. The team parked the Ban Bus in a public park and distributed leaflets and talked to the public, including a youth group that offered to distribute leaflets and other campaign materials through their networks.Read more ...Finland, 26-27 November 2008The Ban Bus visited rainy Helsinki from 26-27 November. To the disappointment of campaigners, Finland had announced a few weeks earlier that they would not sign the Convention in Oslo but has left the door open to reviewing its decision to sign next year. The Peace Union of Finland organised a press conference on arrival of the Ban Bus and in the afternoon, a lie down action took place in the heart of Helsinki which got very good media coverage criticising Finland's decision not to sign the Convention.Read more ...Sweden, 30 November - 1 December 2008The last Ban Bus stop before Oslo was Stockholm. Local campaigners organised a public action where they blocked a central street with red and white ribbons and threw cluster duds on the ground to attract the attention of the public to the problems caused by cluster munitions.Read more ...LINKSwww.thebanbus.org