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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Syria: Army Planting Banned Landmines

World  (tags: world, middle-east, politics, Syria, land mines, repression, genocide, news, government, death, 'HUMANRIGHTS!', 'CIVILLIBERTIES!', HumanRights, ethics )

- 2234 days ago -
Syrian forces have placed landmines near the borders with Lebanon and Turkey in recent weeks and months, Human Rights Watch said today

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AWAY AWHILE Cal Mendelsohn (1067)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 3:13 am
Just for the record,
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For more than 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

Mission Statement:
Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. We challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.


Edo R (71)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 4:38 am
Thanks for sharing!

Teresa W (782)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 4:45 am

Past Member (0)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 4:58 am
sadly noted

Past Member (0)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 6:40 am
Thanks for the post.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 7:13 am
Thank you for sharing.

Nicole W (646)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 9:31 am
thank you Cal

. (0)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 9:32 am
Noted, thanks.

Barbara Erdman (63)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 9:48 am
Noted and thanx for your comment Cal :-0

Kit B (276)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 10:16 am

Atrocities of innocents continue and the world sits back to watch, with a few, tsk, tsk...isn't that just awful. I'm not suggesting the US go to war, but UN peacekeepers could be sent in and try to stop this.

Susanne R (234)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 1:10 pm
“Any use of antipersonnel landmines is unconscionable,” said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch. “There is absolutely no justification for the use of these indiscriminate weapons by any country, anywhere, for any purpose.”

I think Mr. Goose says it all and says it very well!

OmegaForPrez now (1)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 1:37 pm
This is horrible, but, let it be known that Israel has done the same thing with land on the Lebanese side of the Lebanon/Israel border. Human Rights only affects the countries which are not allies with the US. This reminds of me of the ban of nuclear weapons. It is ok for the US and Israel to have nukes, bot it is not ok for any other country to have them. Pretty one sided, don't you think? There will never be peace until all people and all cultures are treated as equals.

Gloria H (88)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 2:03 pm
It is foolish to say that one country which WE choose can have nukes and another country not. The whole nuke situation should never have happened...anyone have a time machine? During the Cold War, we were pissing our pants to be able to bomb Russia into atoms, and saw nothing wrong with building up God only knows how many nukes that could over kill every Russian into future lifetimes. We saw nothing wrong with that. Now we say we are the only kid on the block smart enough to handle weapons of mass destruction. All it takes is a trigger happy "Armaggedion Here We Come" president to take the whole planet and turn it into a dead Mars. God must be knocking his /her/its head against a wall seeing the actions of humans.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 3:14 pm
Oooh, how terrible. The legitimate government of peace loving Syria is defending its territory from the importation of weapons by the armed insurrection to be used to kill even more civilians and security personnel and suddenly HRW gets its panties in a bunch.

The article even says that the Zionist Entity uses mines - let's wait for Cal M to post an article criticising that.

CĂ­ntia R (20)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 4:47 pm
This is horrible!!!
Thank you for the comment Cal.

marie C (163)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 6:03 pm
Thank you Cal for posting It is really shocking

Stephen Brian (23)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 9:04 pm
Landmines can be used legitimately to keep people out of threat-zones and, perhaps, in cases of smuggling as long as clear maps are maintained, the minefields are marked, and the mines are removed when no longer needed. From the report, it looks like the minefields are known because people have been hurt or saw the mines being planted, not (as one would normally expect) due to appropriate signs around them. Syria appears not to be using them appropriately.

Just for clarity: I referred to "threat-zones" above meaning locations from which a potential target cannot defend itself effectively. For example, areas within the blast-radius of a suicide-vest (or throwing-range of a grenade, depending on the nature of the target) or routes of approach without clear lines of fire into them are such zones.

Stephen Brian (23)
Wednesday March 14, 2012, 9:12 pm
Hi Kit :)

Peacekeepers theoretically operate by sitting between the two sides, assisting each one's defense against the other, wearing the uniforms of powerful countries, with the implied threat that an attack upon them will bring war with their countries. They do not have the firepower to actually fight effectively themselves. However, without clear battle-lines, they would be no more effective in Syria than they were in Rwanda. No military response short of a full-up intervention would work, and Syrians do not get along with the two local allies of any forces that would intervene (Turkey, which is a NATO-member, and Israel), and from which, for logistical reasons, any intervening force would have to be based. It would be seen by Syrians as an invasion from a hostile country, making an enemy of whoever comes out on top there. Jordan could also work, but it's neither a highly industrialized NATO-country nor really coastal (less effective logistically). I do see two ways for the West to intervene effectively without pulling Iraq War 2.0, but one would not benefit the West that much and the other would be politically unacceptable.

Wednesday March 14, 2012, 9:16 pm
Sadly noted...
Thank you for sharing.

Charles O (209)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 1:08 am
Assad should hand power over to Human Rights Watch. Then we would see a real slaughter in Syria!

> Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.

What about the rights of the Yugoslavs, Iraqis, and Libyans who did not want to be bombed by NATO? What about the rights of the Palestinians and Lebanese who do not want to be bombed by Israel? What about the rights of Syrians who do not want their country torn apart by a foreign-backed insurrection?

I guess people have rights only when the U.S. needs a pretext for war-making.

AWAY AWHILE Cal Mendelsohn (1067)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 3:29 am
Yes, Charles, wouldn't it be nice if Human Rights Watch or even you or I could guarantee justice for all and end war everywhere. If you can suggest an organization(s) which has done more to defend human rights int he world, than HRW, please elaborate. You have a funny view of human rights and are very selective when it comes down to it. Defending the rights of those caught up in the violence in Syria is one-sideed. It's not acceptable for innocents to suffer there no matter which side of the spectrum they're at politically. You behave as if all of the protestors in /syria are armed and a benign government is under siege--the truth is quite the opposite.

Sometimes I think in reading your posts that next the White Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland herself will be making an appearance, so backward in your presentation are the prevailing facts.

Lloyd H (46)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 6:21 am
Just for the record, to the best of my knowledge, the United States of America is not signatory to any bans on the use of land mines and has repeatedly refuse to ban the manufacture and sale of land mines. After all one can not interfere with the profits of members of the US Military Industrial Complex. The US, manufactures, uses and stockpiles land mines and cluster bombs. One the slightly less dark side the US MAY make its 2018 deadline to only make, use and sell the legal ones.
For the interesed I recomend MAG, Mine Advisory Group, at, they are dedicated to the safe removal of old ordinance and the prevention of futher use. Through them you can help do something positive about the problem, rather than just bitch and moan.

Ellen Emerson (14)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 7:36 am
I can almost understand killing one on one - someone you hate, temporary insanity - whatever. BUT - indiscriminate killing of just anyone with something like land mines I can not understand. Very sad to read this news, but not surprised after all that has been happening in Syria recently :(

Nancy Black (308)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 8:46 am
Barbaric; landmines kill and maim innocent people.

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 8:50 am
Hello Ellen. Yes, it is a pity that peace loving Syria has been forced to use this method of preventing the smuggling of arms from surrounding countries to prevent the merciless armed rebels from toppling Mr al-Assad's legitimate government. Unfortunately the supplies already in the country have neant that the army has its hands full protecting the citizens from the foreign fighters and local al-Qaeda forces even now hoping to take control.

Calle J (19)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 8:55 am

Albeit Wikipedia can not be considered a reliable source of information some links by all means are useful to find out more on certain organisations.
In particular a shadowy organisation like HRW.

The Human Rights Watch ties to George Soros:

The George Soros Open Society Foundation is the primary donor of the Human Rights Watch, contributing $100 Million of $128 Million of contributions and grants received by the HRW in the 2011 financial year

Human Rights Watch, 7 September 2010 George Soros to Give $100 million to Human Rights Watch
See page 16 for the Open Society Foundation's contribution to Human Rights Watch

HRW has been criticized for cooperating with the Saudi government by holding fundraisers in that country, and for not releasing the names of its Saudi donors.

On 7 September 2010, it was announced that George Soros planned to donate 100 million US dollars to Human Rights Watch. Soros's donation was criticized by Gerald Steinberg, the founder of the pro-Israel research organization NGO Monitor.

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 9:23 am
Yes, I've read similar criticisms.

Ben O (171)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 11:33 am
"Any use of antipersonnel landmines is unconscionable. There is absolutely no justification for the use of these indiscriminate weapons by any country, anywhere, for any purpose..."
(Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch)
I couldn't agree more!


Charles O (209)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 11:34 am
Thank you Calle J. for the excerpt from the wikipedia article:

> HRW has been criticized for cooperating with the Saudi government by holding fundraisers in that country, and for not releasing the names of its Saudi donors.[26] On 7 September 2010, it was announced that George Soros planned to donate 100 million US dollars to Human Rights Watch.[31]

-- "Criticism of Human Rights Watch", *wikipedia*

George Soros has fomented "Color Revolutions" all over the world. No doubt he is trying to create such a revolution in Syria.

All sources are biased. If one dismisses all biased sources, one ends up with nothing. I know that wikipedia is under heavy attack by the Zionists. But the Hasbara people face stiff resistance from editors who seek to preserve wikipedia's integrity. Wikipedia does not present the whole picture, but still, it contains a wealth of information.

Robert O (12)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 12:20 pm
Horrible. Thanks Cal. On another note I'm familiar with the HRW and their work but it was good thinking on your part to post the mission statement since there will always be those that will question the motives of any entity they are unfamiliar with or disagree with.

Muriel Servaege (53)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 12:39 pm
The Syrain army loves destroying its own people. And nobody dares do anything because the Russians and the Chinese say NO. Human rights have no value for politicians when other interests are at stake.

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 15, 2012, 4:27 pm
Robert O

"good thinking on your part to post the mission statement"

Yes Robert. I can say that I am glamorous, rich, a famous campaigner for the Zionist Entity in real life.

It's not what people or organisations say about themselves, but what you can dig up about them that is far more interesting.

Calle J (19)
Friday March 16, 2012, 12:32 am

Yesterday, Thursday, Marech 15, 2012, in Syria we could see real peaceful demonstrators. According to Twitter reports have demonstrated more than 2.5 million for Assad in downtown Damas.
In the Western media is of course only a "few thousand" followers of Assad. But see for yourself how many were:
'In a scene of a national carrying a message to the whole world that the Syrian people chose national unity and stability away from the interference and dictation of Foreign Affairs and the invitation of the Syrian youth influx of millions of Syrian citizens from the morning to the squares and streets of the nation in the provinces to participate in the World March for Syria's rejection of outside interference in the internal affairs of the Syrian people In support of comprehensive reform program led by President Bashar al-Assad's Syria to build a renewable and in condemnation of the campaign of hostility and conspiracy targeting Syria and led by some Western and Arab parties.

Chanted the participants who gathered in the streets of the Umayyads in Damascus and the seven Bahrat Deir Al-Zour and Saadallah Jabri Aleppo and maintain Latakia and tenderness and the Corniche sea Tartous, Mr. President Hasakah and municipal elections in Masyaf and Main Street Bslhab and the revival of Zahra, sight-seeing and civilization and the capillaries in Homs, dizziness mail Bdraa chants that reflect awareness of the Syrian people and aware of the size of the responsibilities assigned to him in the face of the plot against the homeland and confirms wrapped around his leadership and steadfastness in the face of pressures and tendentious campaigns aimed at undermining security and stability and condemns committed by terrorist groups armed killings of civilians and military personnel and the maintenance of order and destruction of public property and private service to foreign agendas...'


AWAY AWHILE Cal Mendelsohn (1067)
Friday March 16, 2012, 12:39 am
Yes Robert, just questioning the motives of any organization is always good cover when your aim is merely to discredit anyone or any group who disagrees with you..a cowardly strategy, for sure!

Past Member (0)
Friday March 16, 2012, 3:40 am
What a stupid statement, Cal. If I posted articles from Radio Islam, a hate site, you would not query their provenance and criticise the site? Nonsense.

Calle J (19)
Friday March 16, 2012, 4:54 am

Human Rights Watch - Israel: End Restrictions on Palestinian Residency
Military Control Over Population Registry Splits Families


AWAY AWHILE Cal Mendelsohn (1067)
Friday March 16, 2012, 4:57 am
Just calling it as I see it, John, and not any dumber than openly pretending that civilian casualties in Syria are all either just collateral damage to innocent bystanders or activists with weappns.

Calle J (19)
Friday March 16, 2012, 5:01 am

Israeli Landmine Policy and Related Regional Activity
Although the Israeli people feel it is impossible to separate policies dealing with landmines or any other topic related to security from the broader political framework, Israel has been taking and continues to take the dangers posed by landmines seriously, offering assistance in mine clearance, education and rehabilitation.
by Aharon Etengoff and Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Bar Ilan University Arms Control and Human Security Division Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation

Although the dangers posed by landmines are particularly acute in the Middle East, responses to the Ottawa Convention are limited. Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia and Qatar are State Parties, and Algeria has signed but not ratified the Ottawa Convention. The lack of signatories in the region reflects the continuing conflict and instability as well as the role that mines play in territorial defense.

In Israel, there is significant support for both the concept and effort to abolish landmines, but security considerations and continued warfare outweigh arguments in favor of accession to the Convention. Israel is active in international cooperative programs to clear landmines as well as in rehabilitation and education programs.

The Defensive Use of Landmines
Israel’s Lilliputian breadth and width, coupled with "hot" borders and a limited area of maneuverability for infantry and armored units, has prompted Israel to make extensive use of mines in combat and border defense. According to U.S. State Department estimates, there are 260,000 mines in Israel, primarily along the borders with Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and territories captured in the 1967 war. In addition, there are a significant number of mines scattered throughout the Golan Heights and the Jordan Park area that were planted by Jordanian and Syrian forces, respectively.... read on - it's interesting....


AWAY AWHILE Cal Mendelsohn (1067)
Friday March 16, 2012, 5:03 am
Thanks Calle--interesting

Calle J (19)
Friday March 16, 2012, 5:16 am

Maybe you like this too Cal. it might fit to your article.
Is it kind of hypocrisy?

At least three governments have laid new antipersonnel mines in 2011: Israel; Libya, under the former government of Muammar Gaddafi; and Burma.
While the number of countries that ban antipersonnel landmines has grown, several governments including Myanmar's still condone their use and are actively deploying them.

Yep, I agree Charles.
Thank you for the green star Cal.
But for promoting the NWO you don't deserve one back.

AWAY AWHILE Cal Mendelsohn (1067)
Friday March 16, 2012, 5:22 am
We all do what we do, Calle. I'm not looking for a green star back from you and I'm not promoting anyone

Teresa Cowley (274)
Friday March 16, 2012, 6:33 am
I thought these were outlawed--not that that matters, does it?
This is monstrous!

Stephen Brian (23)
Friday March 16, 2012, 10:30 am
Hi John,

I thought I made it clear earlier that Syria was not using these mines effectively to prevent smuggling. If that was their sole objective, then they would have placed the mines in areas which they could not effectively watch or police, and put up signs letting everyone know what was there.

Hi Charles :)
It sucks, but nothing short of violence (or the credible threat thereof) can stop human rights violations. That is where the power of the law originates, and it will get innocent people killed. There is often no known way to save every innocent life, so should HRW condemn people doing their best to save as many as is practical?

Past Member (0)
Friday March 16, 2012, 3:01 pm
So why do you think they are being put into places that they can effectively police, Stephen?

Stephen Brian (23)
Sunday March 18, 2012, 1:06 am
Hi John,

I don't know that they can effectively police those areas. I have a few ideas why they might use the mines as they do (rather than place signs):

First, they may be trying to kill smugglers rather than just stop smuggling through the particular area where they put the mines. Landmines aren't terribly good for this purpose, but depending on the geography and how often smugglers move back and forth, I guess they might work. They could also be trying to stop, or at least slow down, smuggling over an area much larger than they can actually mine or police. By not marking the fields, they leave a question in any smuggler's head even when there is no apparent cause for concern (working much like the existence of concealed-carry licenses does to reduce crime). This seems very unlikely however, as landmines are ridiculously easy to produce so Syria, being a national government, should have no trouble laying them down all over the border-region (except on roads which can be policed).

Second, they may be trying to drive people out of the area. The border-region could be a major recruitment/training/whatever-ground for rebels, so dispersing the population would make rebels' lives tougher. The geography and distribution of population might make the region impossible to control by normal means. The usual method of doing this is an eviction-order followed, shortly thereafter, by an attack on whomever did not leave, but I suppose it's possible that the army fears the eviction-order would warn the rebels to concentrate forces and let them kill the evicting force.

Third, and this is more in line with reports of publicized, but not officially confirmed, torture, they may be doing this punitively or as a means of intimidation. There may be local support for rebels near the border, so the mines may be a means of punishment, discouraging other population-centres from offering such support. It could also be a matter of "Look how ruthless we are. You do not want to get on our bad side, and your family doesn't want you to either" to reduce rebels' ability to recruit.

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 18, 2012, 6:19 am
Thank you Stephen. Clearly the Syrian government is doing what any government would do when faced with infiltrtaion and smuggling from outside and when its own security forces are stretched because of those who already managed to enter to wage war on it.

Stephen Brian (23)
Sunday March 18, 2012, 2:59 pm
Hi John,

A lot of governments would not resort to this. Even when effectively under control of the U.S. and not of anyone who might identify with the victims, Iraq did not use unmarked landmines despite arms and militants entering through borders to join its insurgency. Ghaddafi's forces did not mine Benghazi to disperse rebels when reentering it before the Western intervention there. I think other groups have used them for intimidation (in the Lebanese civil war). Plan Dalet in the 1948 war in the region was an eviction under the "usual method" which I described (except that people were evicted immediately without being given time to prepare, rather than just randomly killed until they left as would be the case with mines). As for intimidation to keep people in line (rather than joining rebels), the technical term for that, I think, is "state terrorism" (inspiring terror by the state to change political behaviour) and I don't remember any reports of that even in the recent Ivorian civil war. I believe the Syrian government is doing this to pursue legitimate military objectives, rather than just to be evil and kill random people, but that will not void its responsibility for any innocent lives lost to these landmines as a side-effect of its strategy.

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 18, 2012, 4:16 pm
"I believe the Syrian government is doing this to pursue legitimate military objectives"

Quite, Stephen, quite. In addition:--

Today, I received confirmation that Israeli forces have planted new landmines in the UN- monitored buffer zone in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. I had contacted Taiseer Maray, the general director of Golan for Development after reading a report on the topic by Associated Press (AP) yesterday. AP based its news on information in the Israeli military magazine, Ba’mahane.

Stephen Brian (23)
Sunday March 18, 2012, 6:27 pm
I'm not shocked by this. They're probably worried about either spillover from the Syrian internal conflict or a diversionary attack (Syrian military provocation to get people to unite around current leadership for the sake of external conflict). However, I have seen Israeli minefields. They are well-marked and fenced off and, like a barbed wire fence, no danger to anyone who doesn't ignore the danger-signs and climb the fence (though I do have a story about that) while effective at stopping large groups from crossing. That is how they are meant to be used.

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 18, 2012, 7:16 pm
From the same article:--

"The Israeli authorities have planted landmines not only on the cease-fire line to protect its army, as they claim, but surrounding the civilian population and the agricultural land. From other side the authority has systematically ignored any responsibility and refused to clean the land mines from the populated areas. However it is not rare to find fenced off landmine areas near schools and / or in the backyard of Arab resident’s homes. No precise information is available regarding the types of these mines or their exact location,"

Moreover, the Zionist Entity dropped cluster bombs deliberately in S Lebanon in ordert o try to deny support to Hezbollah.

Stephen Brian (23)
Tuesday March 20, 2012, 9:06 pm
Hi John,

The Golan Heights are still under Israeli jurisdiction. The U.N. monitors the territory, but Israel is free to place mines within its territory. Hopefully between the mines and the fence, no other group will try to cross and get fired upon. Of course, if Syria wants to make its people believe they can safely walk into a place where they may be shot, it can remove the barbed wire within its territory. As for the agreement, I would not entirely trust Maray's comment: An army is free to move within any territory under its government's jurisdiction. There may have been an agreement not to build civilian infrastructure beyond some point, or there may be a difference between what Maray calls the line between Israel and Syria and what Israel considers it to be, but while a war is formally ongoing (war was declared in 1948, and never peace, between Israel and Syria), it would take a ridiculously extraordinary agreement for a country to surrender the right to deploy its military force within territory it administers as it sees fit.

Something tells me Israel did not plant landmines in people's backyards. Between a hostile local population, the lack of much point in such a move, and UN monitors, that just seems impractical.. Without much further information, it seems far likelier to me that groups like Golan for Development (Maray's organization) developed the Golan "as a way of resisting the occupational policy" (copied from its website at ) around the minefields both to develop the region and get Israel to effectively withdraw. Israel's refusal to remove them seems to be a refusal to withdraw, not allowing this strategy to succeed. (There is a slippery slope between withdrawing hardware like mines and withdrawing personnel.)

In an analogous case, in the part of Lebanon from which Israel withdrew, it provided maps of the minefields in 2004 to permit their removal without its forces having to enter Lebanon to do it (according to this article from 2004).

I actually once got some training to remove lingering cluster-bombs and other unexploded objects for a job doing so in Eastern Europe. (Unfortunately the company did not get the contract so the job never started.) If you want, I could probably find someone who would map out regions where cluster-bombs were used so that they could be safely removed for a few tens of thousands of dollars (Covering living expenses and pay for a few people for a couple months of searching). In fact, with a good industrial-strength metal-detector hooked up to a GPS for recording position/time/detector-reading, and some software which I think is freely available, I could probably do it (total equipment-cost ~ $20,000, if I recall correctly). (I would just have to get back in shape because those detectors have to be carried by hand as vehicles would screw them up, and I would need to find the GPS-descrambler website again.) My point is that if the local government cared enough about the people in southern Lebanon, all it would take is a tiny fraction of a year's budget and a phone-call to get rid of the cluster-munitions.
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