Handicap International strongly condemns the use of antipersonnel mines by the Myanmar armed forces in recent weeks on the border with Bangladesh. These weapons kill and maim victims who are almost exclusively civilians. The Ottawa Treaty bans these barbaric weapons. The organisation calls on the Myanmar government to immediately cease the use of these barbaric weapons. We also call on the international community to vigorously condemn these recent uses and to put pressure on the Burmese authorities to give up the use of this weapon.
A number of concordant testimonies collected by the Landmine Monitor, Amnesty International, and Reuters report on the recent laying of antipersonnel mines by Myanmar's armed forces at various locations on the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
"The recent use of antipersonnel mines by the Myanmar army is taking place in a context of crisis with devastating consequences for civilians," said Anne Héry, Handicap International's Director of advocacy. “These weapons kill and maim, causing injuries among the most difficult to care for, and have lasting consequences, with social consequences for the victim. All use of mines must cease and everything must be implemented to provide assistance to victims.”
Sixty-three countries and territories around the world are still contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war. These weapons can kill and cause injuries and permanent disabilities for decades following a conflict. Globally, more than three-quarters of landmine victims are civilians and one-third are children.
According to International Campaign to Ban Landmines, an organization co-founded by Handicap International, which works to eradicate landmines around the world, Myanmar is one of the few states with North Korea and Syria still using antipersonnel mines. In 2015, 159 people were victims of these weapons, and more than 250 in 2014.
Also in 2015, at least 6,461 people were killed or injured by mines and explosive remnants of war, according to the 2016 Landmine Monitor report.
The acquisition, production, stockpiling, and use of anti-personnel mines is prohibited by the Ottawa Treaty which was adopted 20 years ago on the initiative of the ICBL. 163 States Parties, more than 80 percent of the world’s countries, represent the Ottawa Treaty. Myanmar has yet to adopt the Treaty.
Marlene Sigonney, Handicap International UK
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About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is a charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
For the past 30 years, Handicap International has been campaigning against anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs, with projects ranging from bomb clearance, risk education to teach civilians about the dangers of these weapons and victim assistance. This led to the signing of the Ottawa mine ban convention (1997) and the Oslo convention on cluster munitions (2008). Handicap International is one of six founding organisations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and co-founder of the Cluster Munition Coalition.