A Triumph of Humanity: 1st August, Entry Into Force of the Cluster Munitions ConventionTuesday, October 12th, 2010
“I had a normal life, a family life. And then suddenly all of that was gone. I am no longer the same person. The bombs fell kilometers off target, directly in a residential area of town where there were absolutely no military targets. I would go in first to clear the bombs so that no civilians would be hurt. But instead it happened to me. In some way it’s better like this. Better me then some innocent child. When I was lying on the ground I did not feel any pain. I saw immediately that my right arm was missing. It was horrible. Horrible.” shared Sladjan Vuckovic, one of thousands of cluster munitions survivors in the world during a film screened at Kolese Kanisius Jakarta to mark the Entry Into Force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
It is the 1st of August and today the ban of these weapons is becoming valid international law. The ban prohibits the production, use, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs and provides obligations to governments to clear contaminated areas and assist survivors of cluster munitions accidents.
A group of around 50 people including students, NGO representatives and members of the media came together to celebrate this day and express their support for a ban of this indiscriminate and inhuman weapon in Indonesia and the world.
In over 80 countries in Africa, Europe, Latin America, Asia and even in Antarctica, drummers and campaigners came together beating traditional drums in support of the international campaign “Beat the Drum to Ban Cluster Bombs”.
“We are happy to be playing on this occasion as we care about peace and the suffering caused by this weapon” stated … a member of the drumming group Kunokini, from Jakarta, who participated in the event.
The event followed an earlier Sunday mass held in the Cathedral of Jakarta for 300 people where Fr Suyadi led a prayer for peace and the survivors of landmine and cluster munitions accidents. Thousands of civilians including women and children have fallen victim to this kind of bomb in recent decades. They have lost limbs, lives and loved ones from their encounters with the funny shaped and coloured bomblets that failed to explode. Long after a conflict or war is over these bombs continue to claim victims, half of whom are children who are attracted to the shape and color of the weapons.
The campaign to ban this weapon began only in recent years as a reaction by the international community to horrific images of the injuries caused by the bombs and through NGO’s making public their experiences of this “deadly legacy of war”. JRS, as an agency which accompanies people displaced by conflict in over 50 countries, became a part of this campaign after witnessing the terrible injuries of refugees arriving in camps. Apart from the physical injuries they suffered refugees also held fears of returning to their homes and their fields which were still contaminated with unexploded parts of cluster bombs.
“Today we have come together to celebrate a very important step for humanity. This day, the 1st August 2010, is a special day for us and peace loving people all around the world. We celebrate this day because it is the day a new international treaty will enter into force to ban the use of cluster bombs which are a danger to the lives and health of innocent civilians” Fr Suyadi, director of JRS Indonesia stated during the celebrations of the Entry Into Force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The event was also attended by Andy Rachmianto from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Indonesia, who spoke about Indonesia’s participation during the drafting and promotion of the convention. Indonesia has “a small number of cluster munitions and will have to destroy them in 8 years (once ratifying the convention)” he stated.
The 1st August event was the highlight of a one week program which included film screenings at KINEFORUM Jakarta, inviting a wider audience to learn via film about the impact of the weapon on people’s lives and families. The aim of this event was to create a momentum for Indonesia’s swift ratification of the treaty.
“Indonesia has no contaminated areas and has to my knowledge never used this weapon but it has a stockpile and for the safety of the civilian population. It should destroy this stockpile as soon as possible and, as a leading example in the Asia Pacific region, ratify the Convention on cluster munitions” states Lars Stenger from JRS Indonesia.
The campaign to ban cluster munitions has achieved a goal many thought impossible years ago. The entry into force of the convention is an important event for everybody, but especially for all the people who are affected by this weapon or could be affected by it in the future. It is also an example of how a coalition of committed campaigners, the UN and governments can successfully advocate and implement humanitarian standards on an international level.
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