Human rights groups push Turkey to clear up landmines

Human rights groups push Turkey to clear up landmines

Human rights groups push Turkey to clear up landmines

A soldier puts a ‘landmine’ sign on the fence of a plot in Tunceli. DHA photo

Human rights groups have urged Turkey to clear up its landmines as soon as possible, but the country has asked for more time.

In a conference held by Amnesty International’s Turkish branch in Istanbul’s Taxim Hill Hotel earlier today, the removal of landmines was highlighted as an indispensable part of the peace process.

“If Turkey wants peace for good, landmines should be urgently cleaned,” said Meral Çıldır, who was speaking on behalf of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD). “Landmine areas should be cleared and used as agricultural areas.”

During the conference, Amnesty International Turkey announced the results of its recent research, which found that there are a total of 1,003,943 landmines in Turkey, with around 900,000 in border areas.

According to the report, a total of 1,050 soldiers and civilians were killed due to landmines between 2004 and 2012. During the same period, 622 soldiers and 112 civilians were injured.

Turkey looking for more time

Turkey aims to start clearing its eastern borders of mines next year, while the remaining areas are planned to be cleared between 2015 to 2022.

According to the Ottawa Treaty, or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Turkey has to clear all of its mines by March 1, 2014. However, it was reported last month that the country is expected to ask the United Nations to delay this target by a further eight years.

Turkey became a state party to the Ottawa Treaty on March 1, 2004.