Burma Tops List for Landmines

The Burmese regime is one of two governments in the world that is using anti-personnel landmines on an ongoing basis, according to the "Landmine Monitor Report 2007: Toward a Mine-Free World," published recently in Burmese language by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).


"In this reporting period, since May 2006, two governments are confirmed to have used antipersonnel mines: Myanmar/Burma and Russia," said the ICBL.
"Despite the growing list of states committed to banning antipersonnel mines, there were discouraging actions among some of the 40 states not party to the treaty. Government forces in Myanmar/Burma and Russia continued to use antipersonnel mines," stated the report.

The ICBL said there were 232 landmine casualties in Burma in 2006 and 231 in 2005. Among them, at least four non-military persons, including two children, were killed. There were 10,605 landmine survivors in 2006, increasing from 8,864 in the 2005 data.

The organization said Burmese military forces continue to use antipersonnel mines extensively, as they have every year since "Landmine Monitor" began reporting in 1999. Mine use was recorded in Karen, Karenni and Shan states, as well as Tenasserim Division, in 2006 and 2007.

Burma is also one of 13 landmine-producing countries in the world, along with China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Blast mines based on the US M-14 design are being manufactured by Myanmar Defense Products Industries at Ngyaung Chay Dauk, in western Bago Division, according to the report.

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), the Shan State Army-South, the United Wa State Army and several other armed groups continued to use antipersonnel mines in 2006 and early 2007, said the report.

There were also warning signs of mine deployment north of the Yoma Mountains and Yae Tar Shae Township, Mandalay Division, the first time mines have been reported in the area.

"Prolonged military operations in eastern states bordering Thailand increased mine contamination; Burmese migrants gave first reports of mine contamination in Mandalay division," said the report.

The ICBL also stated that the closing of five International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) field offices failed to serve conflict casualties in border areas.
Landmines in Burma are deployed mainly near borders with Thailand, Bangladesh and India, and in eastern parts of the country marked by decades-old struggles by ethnic minorities for autonomy. Ten of Burma's 14 states and divisions suffer from some degree of mine contamination, primarily antipersonnel mines, the report stated.

The Burmese military junta has not acceded to the international Mine Ban Treaty, one of 17 countries that abstained from voting on UN General Assembly Resolution 61/84 on December 6, 2006, said the report.

At the time, the Burmese junta stated: "We oppose the indiscriminate use of antipersonnel mines which causes death and injury to innocent people all over the world. At the same time, Myanmar [Burma] believes that all states have the right to self-defense."

Von: www.irrawaddy.org, 25.02.2008

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