For Immediate Release
Following reports of Syria’s alleged use of landmines, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called on Syria to immediately cease the use of landmines along the border with Lebanon and to begin de-mining procedures immediately. PHR also calls on Syria and the United States to sign the Mine Ban Treaty.
“For too long, the world has watched while President Assad has used modern military might—from tanks to artillery—to brutalize his citizens and resist the calls for democracy that are sweeping the region. Now, there are reports that he is laying landmines in an effort to keep his own people from fleeing to safety” said Richard Sollom, Deputy Director at PHR. “It’s hard to understand how President Assad—trained as a doctor to heal people—can reconcile this latest attack on his people with any claim to legitimacy.”
In 1997, 122 governments around the world recognized the horrors of unleashing this indiscriminate weapon on civilian populations and signed the Mine Ban Treaty.
“Landmines don’t discern between guilty and innocent or military and civilians. In fact, 90 percent of landmine victims are civilians and 30-40% of them are children under 15 years old. Today, PHR calls on Syria—and other holdouts, including the United States—to join the treaty and renounce this weapon once and for all,” said Sollom.
In 1991, PHR researched and exposed the overwhelming public health threat of landmines in Cambodia. A year later, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was formed by six non-governmental organizations including PHR, who all shared a singular goal: a worldwide ban on antipersonnel landmines. The Campaign’s work eventually led to the International Mine Ban Treaty. This treaty bans the use, trade, production, and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines and requires its participants to participate in demining and victim assistance efforts. It is considered the defining instrument for ridding the world of landmines.
In 1997 PHR shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the ICBL. In early 2000, PHR shifted its attention to pressuring the United States — one of the few holdouts to the treaty, to join the rest of the world in banning the weapon.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.