30 July 2009

This August, remember the victims of the cluster bomb attacks in Georgia and Lebanon


Mid-August is a time to remember of the victims of cluster bomb strikes by Georgia and Russia one year ago and by Israel and Hezbollah in South Lebanon three years ago.

These major cluster munition users-Georgia, Russia, and Israel-refused to participate in the Oslo Process to ban cluster munitions and have not signed the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Meanwhile clearance organisations continue to clean up the mess and survivors of the cluster bomb strikes continue to struggle.


Members of the international Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) are holding events and activities on and around 12 August 2009 to remember the victims of cluster bomb strikes in Georgia, Lebanon and elsewhere. CMC members are urging their governments to prevent future casualties by signing and ratifying the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Campaigners are encouraged to undertake actions in their own countries, specifically:

1. Write letters to Georgia, Israel, and Russia urging signature of the Convention.

2. Issue a press release urging action by these states and/or your own government;

3. Take a creative action to remember the victims. For example, light a candle, plant a tree, hold a minute's silence, sign the People's Treaty -

About Georgia

During their week-long conflict in August 2008 over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, both Russia and Georgia used cluster munitions that resulted in the deaths of at least 16 civilians and injured at least 54 more (as of April 2009). Some of the worst cluster bomb attacks came on 12 August 2008.According to the HALO Trust, a total of 18 villages in Georgia have been contaminated by cluster munition remnants. HALO is clearing cluster munition remnants in Georgia alongside Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), which cleared 1.11km2 of battle areas in 2008, destroying 49 unexploded submunitions and 12 other items of UXO in the process.After first blaming Russia for using cluster munitions, Georgia eventually publicly acknowledged its own use of the weapon, but has refused to join the ban. Despite abundant evidence, Russia has steadfastly denied its use of cluster munitions in Georgia and continues to claim cluster munitions are "legitimate" weapons.

About Lebanon

Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah started on 12 July 2006, but it was not until the final 72 hours of the conflict-on 11-13 August 2006-that Israel attacked South Lebanon with 850 recorded cluster bomb strikes in many populated areas that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deadly duds. Hezbollah also fired cluster munitions into civilian areas in northern Israel during the conflict.Cluster duds have caused 182 casualties in 2006 and another 68 casualties in 2007 (LM 2008). Lebanon had an unexploded ordnance problem prior to the 2006 cluster bombing and has not yet conducted a comprehensive survey of suspected hazardous areas, but the UN estimated in November 200 8that 48km2 of southern Lebanon was contaminated by cluster munition remnants. Despite the significance of the threat, demining resources were reduced significantly in 2008, as a result of funding constraints.Lebanon's Foreign Minister signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008. Israel has long opposed a categorical ban on cluster munitions and refuses to acknowledge the humanitarian impact of its massive use of the weapon in South Lebanon.


For more information, please see the following resources:• Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Landmine Monitor, May 2009) http://lm.icbl.org/index.php/publications/display?url=cm/2009/• A Dying Practice: Use of Cluster Munitions by Russia and Georgia in August 2008 (HRW, April 2009) http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/04/14/dying-practice• Counting the Cost: The economic impact of cluster munitions contamination in Lebanon (Landmine Action, May 2008) http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/counting-the-cost-lma.pdf• Flooding South Lebanon: Israel's Use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon in July and August 2006 (HRW, February 2008) http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2008/02/16/flooding-south-lebanon• Foreseeable Harm: The use and impact of cluster munitions in Lebanon: 2006 (Landmine Action, October 2006)http://www.landmineaction.org/resources/Foreseeable%20Harm.pdf

CMC List of Country Activities

Lebanon/Georgia Remembrance, August 2009[As of 17 August 2009]CMC members are holding events and activities in Belgium, Canada, Georgia, India, Lebanon, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Uganda, the UK, the US and elsewhere to remember victims of the cluster bomb attacks in Georgia (2008) and Lebanon (2006).


Handicap International Belgium and the Ban Advocates issued a press release on 12 August calling on all states to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions and urging those counties that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the treaty: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/228178/125007055370.htmContact: Handicap International Belgium (Stan Brabant), stan.brabant@handicap.be


Mine Action Canada (MAC) is urging its supporters to remember the victims of the cluster bomb attacks. It is also urging letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling for Canada's swift ratification of the Convention.Contact: MAC (Nancy Ingram), nancy@minesactioncanada.org


On 4 August, a media evening will be held at a Tbilisi restaurant for 25-30 people including cluster bomb victims, officials, diplomats, military experts, aid workers, journalists, youth, and others. The event will include candle-lighting to remember the victims of cluster bombs and conflict. Materials will be disseminated in Georgian and English and there will be a photo exhibition and video screening.Contact: Maia Buchukuri, maia.buchukuri@gmail.com

India - The Indian Campaign to Ban Landmines sent letters to Georgia, Israel and Russia urging them to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.Contact: Indian Campaign to Ban Landmines (Balkrishna Kurvey), iipdep_ngp@sancharnet.in

Lebanon - From 7-30 August, an extensive array of events and activities will be held throughout the country including more than 100 billboard ads promoting the cluster bomb ban; candlelight vigils to remember victims of cluster munitions; a march through Beirut by thousands of scouts on 16 August 2009; and a range of lobby meetings and parliamentary outreach.Contact: NPA-Lebanon (Khaled Yamout), landmines@npalebanon.org

Mexico - CMC campaigner Héctor Guerra will give a radio interview on the issue on 11 August and will send letters to Georgia, Russia and Israel.Contact: Héctor Guerra, ettoregv@yahoo.fr

The Netherlands - On 12 August starting at 22:30 local time, Dutch television network RTL 4 will broadcast a one-hour special on the cluster bombs in Georgia to mark the death of their cameraman Stan Storiman, who was killed together with six civilians by a Russian cluster bomb attack the city of Gori on 12 August 2008. IKV Pax Christi will send letters to the Russian and Georgian embassies in The Hague. Contact: Pax Christi (Roos Boer), Boer@ikvpaxchristi.nl

New Zealand - On 13 August, ANZCMC coordinator Mary Wareham will give a talk at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch that will include a minute's silence in memory of cluster bombs victims in Georgia, Lebanon, and elsewhere. The ANZCMC will write to the ambassadors of Georgia, Israel, and Russia.Contact: ANZCMC (Mary Wareham), wareham@hrw.org

Switzerland - Working to secure media article by a leading national newspaper.Contact: Handicap International (Ueli Anken), uanken@handicap-international.ch

Uganda - The Uganda Landmine Survivors Association sent letters to Russia and Georgia urging them to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.Contact: Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (Margaret Arach Orech), margaret@icbl.org

United Kingdom - CMC staff are meeting the Chargé d'Affaires at the Lebanese embassy to the United Kingdom in London on 12 August to inform the embassy of the activities taking place globally and to enquire about Lebanon's ratification process and other matters regarding the Convention.Contact: CMC staff (Laura Cheeseman), laura@stopclustermunitions.org Handicap International has sent letters to Georgia and Russia calling on these governments to ban cluster munitions.Contact: Handicap International (Beatrice Cami) beatrice.cami@hi-uk.org

United States - Religions for Peace will send letters to the New York Missions of Georgia, Russia and Israel urging them to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.Contact: Religions for Peace (Allison Pytlak), apytlak@religionsforpeace.org Survivor Corps sent letters to Georgia, Russia and Israel and posted a news story on the anniversary of the cluster bombings on their website.http://my.survivorcorps.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=377&postId=5055967022464558225Contact: Survivor Corps (Nerina Cevra), ncevra@survivorcorps.org

United Nations - During CCW meetings held 17-21 August in Geneva, CMC representatives will seek meetings with diplomats from Georgia, Israel, Russia to discuss measures taken since the conflicts (including clean-up), as well as press for signature of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.Contact: CMC (Thomas Nash), thomas@stopclustermunitions.org