Norwegian People’s Aid condemns Thailand’s use of cluster bombs in the border conflict with Cambodia in February this year.
Cluster bombs is a horrible weapon that largely affects civilians. Each year, thousands of civilians are killed and maimed by unexploded cluster munitions. We have worked actively for a ban on cluster munitions and condemn all use of these weapons, says Per Nergaard, head of the Norwegian People’s Aid Mine Department.
The statement from the Norwegian People’s Aid comes in reaction to publication of the result of two separate on-site investigations by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). The coalition concludes that Thailand used cluster munitions on Cambodian territory during the February 2011 border conflict.
The CMC statement specifically mentions unexploded M42/M46 and M85 type DPICM submunitions which has been found by Norwegian People’s Aid.
The CMC statement also said Thai officials had confirmed the use of cluster munitions in a meeting with the CMC on April 5. In a meeting on April 5, the Thai Ambassador to the UN in Geneva had confirmed Thai use of 155mm Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) cluster munitions.
The Ambassador had allegedly said that Thailand used cluster munitions “in self- defense”, using the principles of “necessity, proportionality and in compliance with the military code of conduct.”
The two on-site investigations took place in February and April of this year in Svay Chrum Village and Sen Chey Village and around the Preah Vihear temple hill, where unexploded submunitions and fragmentation damage caused by cluster munitions was found.
Atle Karlsen, Norwegian People’s Aid’s representative in the CMC, says Thailand must now give out information, so-called bomb data, making it possible (or easier) to clean areas and make it safe for people to return.
Sister Denise Coghlan, a CMC leader who took part in the first research mission said:
“These cluster munitions have already robbed two men of their lives, two more have lost their arms and a further five were injured. The area must be cleared immediately to prevent more suffering. Cambodia must make every effort to ensure the safety of civilians.”
The CMC has urged Thailand to provide detailed information on the results of its inquiry, including the location of all cluster munition strikes, so that civilians can be adequately warned of the dangers and to assist the effective and efficient clearance of submunition remnants, which pose dangers like landmines.
The CMC is also calling on Cambodia to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and as interim steps commit to no use, make known the types and quantity of cluster munitions in its stockpile and start destruction.
Cambodia and Thailand are not among the 108 countries that have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions but each has joined the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
Both countries participated in the “Oslo Process” to negotiate the Convention on Cluster Munitions and attended its First Meeting of States Parties in neighboring Laos in November 2010.
“This conflict should spur both countries to take urgent action to denounce the weapons and join the ban treaty,” said Cheeseman.