Russia accused on cluster bomb use in Georgian republic

Russia accused on cluster bomb use in Georgian republic

By staff writers
3 Sep 2008

Despite the official termination of Russian military operations in Georgia, tensions in the region remain high, and campaigners claim that Russia has been dropping cluster bombs on innocent civilians in the Georgian republic, killing and wounding many and spreading dangerous unexploded bomblets that will continue to kill and maim people into the future.

Along with Quakers, Survivor Corps is one of the lead organizations in the movement to ban cluster bombs and to assist the survivors of this dangerous and indiscriminate weapon.

Russia began an armed offensive against Georgia over South Ossetia, a region long recognized as part of Georgia but home to an ethnic minority with close ties to Russia.

Survivor Corps (http://banclusterbombs.smnr.us/) says Russia’s use of cluster munitions is the first known employment of the weapon since 2006, when they were used during the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The extremely high number of civilian deaths attributed to cluster munitions in that conflict initiated an international movement to ban cluster munitions, called the Oslo Process.

The Oslo Process culminated with a new international treaty in May of 2008 banning the use, trade and stockpiling of cluster munitions. Survivor Corps was one of the 12 lead organizations that worked with campaigners, governments and intergovernmental organizations to secure the treaty.

Survivor Corps also led the charge to include provisions in the treaty requiring governments to assist survivors of the weapon, a revolutionary achievement in a weapons treaty. So far, 107 countries have adopted the treaty, which will open for signatures in December of 2008. Neither Russia nor United States are among them.

Survivor Corps is urging worldwide support for a People’s Treaty calling for a complete ban. It is also taking the campaign to US Senators, urging a 'no' to cluster bombs.

Meanwhile, Russia has shut down its embassy in Tbilisi following Georgia's decision to cut diplomatic ties with Moscow.

Georgia formally broke diplomatic relations with Russia on 2 September 2008, following its occupation of parts of the country and recognition of two rebel regions.

Georgia's foreign ministry announced last week that it was planning to cut diplomatic ties but maintain consular relations to serve hundreds of thousands of Georgians living in Russia.

The move came after Russia recognised the two breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries.

Moscow's recognition of the two regions drew condemnation from Georgia and many Western countries.

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