Anti-Mine Movement (Turkey)

"Clearing Mines Does Not Cost More than a Human Life"


Destroying a mine takes 100 hours and costs 1,000 dollars, so Öğreten from the Initiative for a Turkey without Mines.
Istanbul - BİA News Center
25 May 2009, Monday
As the government is discussing the clearing of land mines on the Turkish border with Syria, Muteber Öğreten from the Initiative for a Turkey without Mines has evaluated this as a "positive development". However, she argues that the plan has to be extended to include landmines all over Turkey.
Government and army unwilling to take on task
The current discussion is centering on how the mines should be cleared. The opposition is calling on the army to clear them, while the General Staff says that it does not have the necessary equipment. The government is worried about the cost of such an operation and would like to offer the use of land in return for clearance by the private sector. The army is suggesting getting support from NATO.
The two opposition parties, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP) have objected to both suggestions on the grounds that security would be compromised and that "foreigners" would have a hold on land.
Öğreten criticises the attitude of the two parties, saying that they are more concerned with their political views than human rights.
Signatories to the United Nations' Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention, also known as the "Ottowa Convention" or "Mine Ban Treaty", undertake, under Article 7, to present a report to the UN on the number of mines stockpiled, on mine areas, plans for the destruction of mines, number of destroyed mines, as well as other programmes in relation to landmines. The reports are to be updated annually.
Nearly a million land mines buried in Turkey
According to a preliminary Article 7 report published by the Turkish state in 2004, the following number of land mines is estimated to be buried at the border with Syria:
Gaziantep (date unknown): 179,723, Hakkari (1991-1994): 46,104, İskenderun (date unknown): 23,836, Mardin (1991-1994): 84,899, Şanlıurfa (date unknown): 269,163 and Şırnak (1991-1994): 106,278.
According to a more recent Article 7 Report, 389 mines were destroyed in 2007. No area or locations were specified.
The total number of buried landmines in Turkey amounts to 982,777.
Ottawa Convention not observed
Öğreten criticises the government for not fulfilling the conditions of the Ottowa Treaty that it has signed together with 155 other countries.
The deadline of 1 March, which was given to the state to clear the mines has passed, and no new date has been mentioned.
101 killed or injured since 2007
According to the most recent Article 7 report, 28 people were killed and 73 injured in land mine incidents since 2007. Of those affected in the incidents, 54 were soldiers, 10 were village guards, 1 was a security officer, while 36 were civilians (24 adults and 9 children).
Destruction more difficult than planting mines...
Öğreten stated that the destruction of a landmine took 100 hours and cost between 1,000 and 1,500 dollars:
"One method is to destroy them by exploding them on site. Because the explosive then seeps into the soil, this is not the preferred method. The preferred method has two steps: first the detonator is separated from the mine, and then the explosives are separated from the metal part."
Signatories to the Ottawa Convention, which Turkey signed in 2003, have taken serious steps in mine clearing, says Öğreten: "Even if mine clearing is expensive, it is not more expensive than human life." (BÇ/AG)

Von: 24.05.2009,

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