Thailand admits using cluster bombs against Cambodia, activists sayApril 6th, 2011 - 11:47 pm ICT by BNO News
GENEVA (BNO NEWS) — Thailand used cluster munitions on Cambodian territory during the February 2011 border conflict, becoming this the first use of munitions since an international treaty banned them in 2008, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) said Wednesday.
The London-based organization said the Thai Ambassador to the UN confirmed the use of cluster munitions in a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday. He said Thailand fired 155mm cluster shells into Cambodia “in self-defense.”
“It’s appalling that any country would resort to using cluster munitions after the international community banned them,” Laura Cheeseman, director of the CMC, said.
“Thailand has been a leader in the global ban on antipersonnel mines, and it is unconscionable that it used banned weapons that indiscriminately kill and injure civilians in a similar manner.”
Cluster munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched weapons that split open before impact to scatter sub-munitions (”bomblets”) over an area. During the attack, because of their dispersing bomblets, they strike indiscriminately, especially over populated areas.
Almost 108 countries have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but neither Thailand nor Cambodia have signed the agreement.
In February and April of this year, CMC members conducted two separate missions to cluster munition contaminated areas in Cambodia. Norwegian People’s Aid confirmed that unexploded submunitions have been found.
“There are around 5,000 people living in Sen Chey village that are at risk from these unexploded weapons. Thailand must supply information to help clear affected areas and make them safe for civilians to return home,” Atle Karlsen of Norwegian People’s Aid said.
The CMC has urged Thailand to provide detailed information, including the location of all cluster munition strikes, and is also calling on Cambodia to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Clashes resumed in February as both nations claim the lands surrounding the Hindu Temple of Preah Vihear. The border conflict has damaged the temple which dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.
Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.
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Tags: 155mm, activists, antipersonnel mines, based organization, bno, bomblets, border conflict, cambodia, cheeseman, chey, civilians, clashes, cluster bombs, cluster munitions, cmc, geneva, global ban, self defense, shells, unexploded weapons