15 August 2008

Urgent Action: Condemn Russia's Use of Cluster Bombs in Georgia

Georgians look at the remnants of an RBK-250 cluster bomb dropped by Russian aircraft on the village of Ruisi, near South Ossetia, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008. © AP photos / Sergei GritsRussia has dropped cluster bombs in Georgia killing 11 civilians and injuring many more, Human Rights Watch have confirmed. This attack takes place just over 2 months after more than 107 countries agreed to ban cluster bombs because of the harm they cause to civilians.We urgently need you to take action and condemn Russia's use of cluster bombs in Georgia. Urge Russia to immediately stop using cluster bombs and to provide strike data to facilitate the clearance effort. Call on your government to speak out against Russia's use of a weapon that 107 governments have just agreed to ban because of the harm they cause to civilians. Russia's use of cluster bombs in Georgia and urge the international community to speak out.ACTIONS1. Issue a press release and call your media contacts and prominent supporters.CMC Press Release (15 August 2008) "Cluster Munition Coalition condemns Russian use of cluster bombs in Georgia"HRW Press Release (15 August 2008) "Georgia: Russian Cluster Bombs Kill Civilians"2. Contact the Russian embassy in your country.Template letter to Russian representationsYou can find a list of Russian embassies here:http://www.rusembassy.org/3. Write to Russian President Medvedev. Download a template letter.Template letter to Russian representations President Dmitry MedvedevStaraya pl. 42103132 MoscowTel: +7 495 925 3581Fax: +7 495 206 5173Email: president@gov.ruhttp://president.kremlin.ru/3. Organise a protest outside the Russian embassy in your country. ‘107 countries have just banned cluster bombs - Russia has just killed civilians with them'http://www.rusembassy.org/Protests taking place:London, UK: Monday, 17 August, 10.30 - 12.30 at the Russian Embassy (6 -7 Kensignton Palace Gardens)Oslo, Norway: Monday, 17 August, 11.00 - 13.00 at the Russian Embassy (Drammensveien 74) Wellington, New Zealand: Monday, 17 August, 12.00 at the Russian Embassy (57 Messines Road) Dublin, Ireland: Wednesday, 19 August, 12.00 - 13.00 at the Russian Embassy (184-186 Orwell Road)4. Write to your government and urge them to condemn Russia's use of cluster bombs. Particularly if your government is one of the 107 countries that has just agreed to ban cluster bombs.Template letter to your governmentKEY MESSAGES AND INFORMATION (source: Human Rights Watch):
  • On 12 August Russian aircraft dropped cluster bombs on the town on Ruisi and the town of Gori in Georgia killing 11 civilians and injuring more.
  • The cluster bombs used are: RBK-250 cluster bombs that each contain 30 PTAB 2.5M submunitions.
See more information and a photo of remnants of a RBK-250 cluster bomb here: http://www.hrw.org/
  • 107 countries negotiated a treaty to ban cluster bombs just over 2 months ago because of the harm that they cause to civilians both during and after attacks
  • Russia's use of cluster bombs shows it is out of step with the efforts of the international community to protect civilians from the effects of these indiscriminate weapons
  • This attack highlights the harm caused by these weapons and the urgent need for governments to sign the treaty banning cluster bombs this December in Oslo
  • Russia has condemned the use of cluster bombs by other nations and highlighted its own clearance of cluster bombs in Serbia so this use in Georgia is the worst hypocrisy
RUSSIA'S POSITION ON THE TREATYRussia has stayed outside of the Oslo Process to ban cluster bombs, and has stated that cluster bombs are legitimate weapons if targeted correctly. However, Russia made a statement in June 2008 condemning other nations use of cluster bombs acknowledging the harm they cause civilians.Download the statement from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Russian MFA statement 060608BACKGROUND ON RUSSIA'S CLUSTER MUNITIONS (source: Human Rights Watch)http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/08/14/russia19624.htmThe Russian Federation was not part of the Oslo Process launched in February 2007 to develop a new international treaty banning cluster munitions. In May 2008, 107 nations adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively bans the use, production, trade and stockpiling of the weapon. It will be open for signature in Oslo on December 3, 2008.Russia has argued that submunitions are legitimate weapons that can be accurately targeted to minimize civilian damage.1 It has previously used cluster munitions in Chechnya. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) used cluster munitions extensively in Afghanistan. Cluster munitions were also used by various forces in several conflicts that resulted from the breakup of the USSR including Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Tajikistan. Russia, and historically the USSR, is a major producer and exporter of cluster munitions. It is thought to have a massive stockpile of cluster munitions containing hundreds of millions of submunitions. Cluster munitions of Russian/Soviet origin are reported to be in the stockpiles of at least 29 other countries. 2 The following Russian companies are associated with the production of cluster munitions: Bazalt State Research and Production Enterprise (air-dropped bombs), Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (120mm, 152mm, 203mm artillery projectiles), and Splav State Research and Production Enterprise Rocket (122mm, 220mm, 300mm rockets and missiles). Background on RBK cluster bombs RBK stands for razovaya bombovaya kasseta meaning "single-use bomb cassette." The RBK series of cluster munitions comes in two sizes (designated as 250 and 500, according to weight) and can contain various types of submunitions, including fragmentation, high explosive antitank, incendiary, runway cratering, and sensor fuzed. RBK bombs have been used in combat by various forces in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Chad, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, Tajikistan, and Uganda. They have also been found in abandoned ammunition stockpiles in Angola, Azerbaijan, and Guinea-Bissau. The PTAB-2.5M submunition is an electrically-armed submunition which contains 454 grams of explosive and is designed to explode on impact. It is reported to be capable of penetrating 120 millimeters of armor plate. ...1Russian Federation Presentation, "Cluster Weapons: Real or Mythical Threat," Eleventh Session of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Group of Government Experts, Geneva, August 2-12, 2005, p. 3. 2Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Guinea Bissau, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Moldova, Mongolia, Peru, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, Ukraine, and Yemen.