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Comments Received by Landmine Monitor

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Country: China
Date Received: 10 Apr 2000

April 10, 2000

Dear Ms. Yukika Sohma and Yukie Osa,

We have received your letter requesting our comments on your last edition of Landmine Monitor 1999 as well as detailed information on China's efforts on mine clearance activities and assistance to landmine casualties. We have given serious consideration to your letter and would like to make the following comments and response.

It is obvious that you attached importance to reflecting China's policy and position on the issue of landmines in your report. For that purpose, you must have done a lot of work and consulted relevant sources. We are grateful for your efforts in this regard. We appreciate the responsible attitude you adopted by quoting the exact statements made by Chinese officials in various occasions and the relevant section from the White Paper on China's National Defense. Meanwhile, we also noted that Landmine Monitor 1999 quoted some remarks of assessment or speculation by agencies from other countries or individuals on China's production, transfer, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel landmines (APLs). It is our view that such an approach is not appropriate. We can not but feel regretful for that. We strongly hope that you exclude such groundless views or statistics out of speculation in Landmine Monitor 2000 in a responsible manner.

We understand that the objective of Landmine Monitor 2000 is to accurately reflect the policy and position on the issue of landmines of all countries, including China. China's policy on the issue of landmines is as follows:

"China has always attached great importance to accidental injury to civilians caused by landmines. It supports proper and rational restrictions placed on the use and transfer of landmines. At the same time, the Chinese government holds that, in addressing the problem of landmines, especially that of APLs, due regard should be given to both humanitarian concerns and legitimate military means, including the use of APLs, according to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. As a developing country with long borders, China has to reserve the right to use APLs for self-defense on its own territory pending an alternative to replace APLs and the presence of security and defense capability."

After outlining the above-mentioned policy, your report may then proceed to enumerate the actions taken by China based on that policy, including the activities cited in Landmine Monitor 1999. For example, in April 1996, China announced a moratorium on the export of APLs which are prohibited by the Amended Landmine Protocol annexed to the CCW Convention. In 1998, China ratified the Amended Landmine Protocol. In that same year, China donated US$100,000 to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Clearance and sponsored an international mine clearance training course in China in cooperation with the UN. It has also decided to contribute some equipment for mine detection and clearance to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Clearance, earmarked to some mine-affected countries. It has successfully launched two large-scale demining operations in Sino-Vietnamese border areas. China is not a State Party to the Ottawa Convention.

You also requested us to provide detailed information on China's mine clearance activities in Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Therefore, we attach herewith Postwar Demining Operations in China (1992-1999) and China's National Report to the First Annual Conference of the States Parties to the Amended Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices Annexed to the CCW. These two reports contain detailed information on China's mine clearance activities and mine clearance assistance. Please draw the relevant information from these two reports into the Landmine Monitor 2000.

China attached importance to assistance to mine victims and has made tremendous efforts in this area. However, we have been engaged only in actual assistance work so far instead of making them known to other countries. We are yet to conduct a comprehensive compiling of the statistics in this regard. The departments concerned in the Chinese government are trying to gather relevant information. Once available, the information will be publicized in due time.

WANG Xiaolin
Third Secretary
Department of Arms Control and Disarmament
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
People's Republic of China

Country: Kenya
Date Received: 02 Mar 2000


2nd March 2000
Madame Sylvie Brigot
Coordinatrice de la Campagne
Francaise pur Interdire les Mines
Handicap International
104/106, Rue Oberkampf
75011 PARIS
Dear Madame Brigot,

We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 26th January, 2000 in which you informed us that we remain one of the Signatories of this important treaty but have not yet ratified it.Kenya is a vocal supporter of the total ban on the use of landmines and would like to assure you of our commitment to ratify the treaty.I have forwarded your letter to Nairobi for their urgent attention.Please Mme Campaigner , accept the assurances of our highest consideration.Yours sincerely, (signed) Steven A. Loyatum Ambassador

Country: Gabon
Date Received: 17 Feb 2000

L'Ambassadeur Haut Representant de la Republique Gabonaise en France

17 February 2000 Madame,

J'ai I'honneur d'accuser reception de votre lettre du 26 janvier relative a la Campagne Internationale pour l'Interdiction des Mines Antipersonnel et pour leur Destruction, document dont j'ai pris connaissance avec la plus grande attention.

Je transmets votre correspondence a notre Gouvemement a Libreville et je ne doute pas qu'elle sera prise en consideration en vue d'une ratification rapide du Traite International d'Interdiction des Mines Antipersonnel, mais si vous le desirez, j'accepterais volontiers de vous recevoir, A une date que nous devrons fixer d'un commun accord, en fonction de mes obligations diplomatiques actuelles.

Avec mes sentiments les meilleurs, je vous prie d'agreer, Madame, 1'expression de ma consideration la plus distinguee.

Honorine Dossou-Naki
Madame Sylvie BRIGOT
Coordinatrice de la Campagne Franqaise Pour Interdire les Mines
Handicap International
104/106, rue Oberkampf
75011 PARIS

Country: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Date Received: 14 Jan 2000

854 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10021 TEL: (212) 879-8700 FAX: (212) 879-8705

no. 09/2000

14 January 2000

Dear Mrs. Bernstein,

I have the honour to trasmit, enclosed herewith, a copy of the letter of HE Mr. Miroslav Milosevic, Assistant Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, addressed to you.

Please accept, Mrs. Bernstein, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Signed: Dragana Ivanovic


Belgrade, 11 January 2000

Dear Mrs. Bernstein,

Regarding your letter of 24 November 1999, addressed to the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Zivadin Jovanovic and the interest you expressed in having the FR of Yugoslavia join the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, I would like to inform you of the following:

I appreciate very much your involvement in the matter as a Campaign to Ban Landmines Coordinator. You are surely aware that in spite of the expressed interest of the FR of Yugoslavia to take part in the preparatory stage for the Convention, it has not been given the opportunity to do so from the very outset. Having joined the negotiations at a later stage, it was not possible for the FR of Yugoslavia to make all necessary preparations related to its possible accession to the Convention before the Ottawa Conference, held in December 1997.

The NATO aggression against the FR of Yugoslavia in March-June 1999 has raised completely new questions about the use of inhumane weapons, among which anti-personnel landmines represent but only one category. As it is known, the FR of Yugoslavia was exposed to large-scale destruction as a result of the use of the most hazardous types of inhumane weapons such as cluster bombs, depleted uranium bombs, thermal bombs, etc. which caused the death of a large number of civilians, children in particular as well as the destruction of plants, infrastructure, schools, hospitals and numerous civilian properties. Additionally, the civilian population in Kosovo and Metohija was also a victim of anti-personnel landmines planted by the terrorist organization of the so-called KLA. The deployment of KFOR has not helped the situation at all. The overall location and the number of inhumane weapons used.

In view of the long-lasting commitment of the FR of Yugoslavia to the process of disarmament and arms control, I wish to assure you that we stand ready to continue to participate actively in the efforts towards the elimination of all types of weapons, inhumane weapons in particular and will make our concrete contribution to this as soon as appropriate conditions have been created to this effect.

I sincerely hope that you will, for your part, as Campaign Ban Landmines Coordinator, soon launch a campaign to ban other types of mines, like those used by NATO in its aggression against the FR of Yugoslavia.

Yours sincerely,
(signed) Miroslav Milosovic
Assistant Federal Minister

Country: Venezuela
Date Received: 20 Oct 1999

Misión Permanente de Venezuela
ante la Organización de los Estados Americanos

Washington, 20 de octubre de 1999

Señor Steve Goose:

Tengo el agrado de dirigirme a usted en la oportunidad de agradecer el envío del material sobre El Monitor de Minas Terrestres de 1999: Hacia un mundo sin minas.

Valga la ocasión para reiterar a usted las seguridades de mi más alta y distinguida consideración.

Virginia Contreras


Al Señor
Steve Goose
Director de Programa
Landmine Monitor
Washington, DC

Country: Qatar
Date Received: 09 Sep 1999

Embassy of the
Washington, DC

The Landmine Monitor Core Group September 9, 1999
1630 Connecticut Ave., NW, #500 Ref.: 246/9/99
Washington, D.C. 20009

MS. Mary Wareham
Senior Advocate, Arms Division
Human Rights Watch

Dear Madam,

It was my pleasure to receive your letter dated July 21st, 1999 and the enclosed Landmine Monitor Report 1999. I heartily congratulate you on the able manner in which you handled your humanitarian undertaking.

I would also like to avail myself of the kind offer you made in the last paragraph of your letter where you welcomed comment, correction or clarification, to draw attention to the following:

  1. The State of Qatar has contributed $ 200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand US dollars) to the International Fund for the Removal of Landmines and assisting their Victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  2. That the State of Qatar had ratified the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, formally known as the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction. By virtue of that ratification the provisions of the Convention have become part and parcel of the national laws of the State of Qatar.

I would appreciate very much the posting of this information to your web-site and its inclusion in the next report of Landmine Monitor.

Yours sincerely,

Saad Mohamed Al-Kobaisi

Country: Slovenia
Date Received: 27 Jul 1999

1525 New Hamshire Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 667-5363
Fax: (202) 667-4563

Mrs. Mary Wareham
Senior Advocate, Arms Division
Human Rights Watch
For the Landmine Monitor Core Group
1630 Connecticut Ave. NW #500
Washington, DC 20009

Washington, July 27, 1999

Dear Mrs. Wareham,

Thank you for the publications Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World and its Executive Summary.

Landmine Monitor can be of great help to all those concerned with the elimination of the production and use of landmines all over the world. Slovenia is taking an active role in achieving the goal of a world being safe from land mines. To this end Slovenia established an International Trust Fund in order to organize and finance demining activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as to assit in the rehabilitation of the mine victims.

Enclosed is an International Trust Fund brochure, which explains our efforts in great detail. We believe that this information will be of help in compiling together the next issue of the Landmine Monitor.

We wish you and your associates success in your noble work.


Igor Kerstein

Charge dAffairs, a.i.

Country: Monaco
Date Received: 27 Jul 1999

Mission Permanente
De La Principauté de Monaco
Auprés de Nations Unies

Reference 99/793
Le Représentant permanent adjoint

New York, July 27 1999

Dear Madam,

I have the honour to acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your report along with its executive summary on landmine.

As a donour country for the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action, my delegation welcomes this comprehensive report and looks forward to another study by the Landmine monitor on this serious and delicate topic.

Please accept, Madame, the assurance of my highest consideration.

Chargé d'affaires, a.i.

Isabelle Picco

Mrs. Mary Wareham

Senior Advocate, Arms Division

Human Rights Watch

Country: Colombia
Date Received: 22 Jul 1999


Washington, DC

July 22nd, 1999

Ms. Mary Wareham
Senior Advocate, Arms Division
Human Rights Watch
1630 Connecticut Avenue NW #500
Washington D.C. 20009

Dear Ms. Wareham:

I really appreciate your sending me a copy of the Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World and its Executive Summary wich, I am sure, will provide an important means to indicate the global effectiveness on landmine banning.


Luis Alberto Moreno


Country: Burma / Myanmar
Date Received: 16 Jul 1999

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008-4089
Tel. (202) 332-9044

July 16, 1999

Ms. Mary Warehamn
Senior Advocate
Arms Division
Human Rights Watch
For the Landmine Monitor Core Group
1630 Connecticut Avenue, NW #500
Washington, DC 20009

Dear Ms. Warehamn,

I thank you for sending me a copy of the Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World and its Executive Summary. The report is impressive both in its scope and coverage. There is no doubt that considerable amount of time and effort was invested in the undertaking.

I have not yet had the opportunity to study each and every chapter of the report in depth. However, I have taken time to review the section on Myanmar. While the country report is replete with details and source information it does not stand up to scrutiny. Its principal shortcoming is that it is based largely on interviews with disaffected individuals or politically-motivated groups residing in neighboring Thailand.

The assertion of the researchers from the Landmine Monitor that Myanmar soldiers laid mines inside Thailand or that there are repeated examples of mine use by the Tatmadaw directed against the civilian, non-combatant population is groundless. It is a serious charge and should not be made unless it can be substantiated. Disinterested observers should be aware that the Tatmadaw is a highly disciplined organization dedicated to the defense of the nation. It is not a mercenary army. I am deeply disappointed that the researchers have ignored this and have given a sympathetic hearing to the outlandish tales gleaned from the "refugee camps" in Thailand or from the fodder fed into the electronic media by activist groups. Nothing is further from the truth than to say that civilians are being used in Myanmar as human mine sweepers.

With regard to the sub section on ethnic armed groups, it is factually incorrect to designate the "Rohingya" as an ethnic group. There are 135 nationalities in Myanmar. The "Rohingya" is certainly not one of them. It should also not be forgotten that today peace reigns in Myanmar like never before. Seventeen armed groups have returned to the fold. The KNU (Kayin National Union) remains the only hold out. It is therefore absolutely incorrect to state that the "Karen, Shan, Chin, Arakan, Karenni and Rohingya" are currently involved in military conflict with the central government.

The lack of objectivity and balance in the country report is all the more telling when one notes that the use of mines by the Tatmadaw is portrayed as indiscriminate whereas that of the insurgent groups as less so. In the sub-section on the use of landmines by ethnic armed groups, the researchers state,".The KNLA (Karen National Liberation Army) place them on paths known to be used by government troops. The government and the DKBA retaliate by mining destroyed villages, fields and around villages as well as to protect their camp.

I am encouraged to note that Landmine Monitor acknowledges that the report has its shortcomings and that it regards it as a continuing process to be improved upon.

I offer my criticism with the hope that it will be seen as constructive and that it would lead to a more accurate and reliable reporting system in the years ahead.

Yours Sincerely,

Tin Winn

See also Reply to Burmese Embassy in D.C. by the writers of the Burma country report.


Reply to Burmese/Myanmar Embassy in D.C.

Ambassador Tin Winn
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street NW
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

8 August, 1999

Ambassador Tin Winn,

Thank you for your letter of 16 July directed to Mary Wareham at the Landmine Monitor office in Washington DC. I am the researcher who was responsible for the Landmine Monitor chapter on Myanmar. I am working on an update of the chapter for the Year 2000 Landmine Monitor, and welcome your comments and criticisms, and would particularly welcome your cooperation in making our information on Myanmar as complete as possible.

I will address your concerns and seek additional comments or concerns you may have on these responses.

I share your concern that the report relied too much on sources from outside Myanmar. Your letter is the first response I have received officially on the report. Although I have had contact with, and sent copies of our report on to, Counselor Pau and Lt Col Kyaw Han, respectively at the Union of Myanmar Embassy and Military Attache in Bangkok, I have, so far, received no comments from them. To be fair, Counselor Pau has nothing to do with Landmines and admited little knowledge about the issue. He forwarded a list of questions which I had prepared for the Government of the Union of Myanmar to Yangon.

Six months later, I have still received no responses from Yangon. I followed this up by asking Counselor Pau if he could provide me with a list of persons within Ministries to follow-up and make contact with in Yangon. He said he would send the list to me, but now, many months later, I am still waiting on it.

Similiarly, I contacted Lt. Col. Kyaw Han, the Military Attache in Bangkok. Like Counselor Pau, he was courteous, but gave me little real information. He claims that in current times, landmine victims are not to be found within your country, and international assistance for victims is therefore unnecessary. He seems to be out-of-touch with current realities in Myanmar, as his information is directly contradicted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is providing international assistance for the care of mine victims through the Ministry of Health. The ICRC joint-program has been providing prosthetics to civilian victims of mine warfare in Myanmar for over 10 years, and continues to do so today. Handicap International, a member of the Landmine Monitor core group, will be traveling to Myanmar this month to Yangon to assess the possibility of opening a programme to help in the rehabilitation of civilian victims of mine warfare.

Since I could not make contact with knowledgeable individuals within the Union of Myanmar Government from Bangkok, I traveled directly to Yangon earlier this year. Although I had faxed letters of my planned visit ahead, including my bonafides, and further copies of our questions related to the Landmine Monitor, I could find no one who had received these questions (either from my faxes or through the Embassy or Military Attache). The Ministry officials who did meet with me, did so out of courtesy since my visit was not official.

However it appears to have been impossible to have arranged to come officially, since I have been unable to receive responses through official sources. Your help in this situation would be most welcome.

In particular, I would seek for you to provide me with a list of individuals in Ministries who have direct knowledge and responsibility for dealing with Landmine Victim Assistance, and who will be in charge of de-mining operations in affected areas in Myanmar.

Now on to your specific concerns. As to the allegation we made of Anti-personnel mine laying by Tatmadaw troops outside the territory of the Union of Myanmar, as you stated, these are serious sovereignity violations, and we treat them as such.

Here our sources are the Governments of both Thailand and Bangladesh.

Cases of extra-territorial mining have been ongoing over the past few years by your soldiers. Officials of both governments have said they regularly raise this concern with the Union of Myanmar through official channels, so someone in Yangon should know the details and be able to brief you. Incursions and mine laying by Tatmadaw units has been reported several times through the news media as well in both countries. Sources for the articles are official, and from the domestic population (not disaffected persons from the Union) living in the border areas. The last incursion by Tatmadaw troops, during which they laid mines, in Thailand was around the 1st of May of this year. 16 mines of Myanmar manufacture were lifted by the Royal Thai Military, although a few were triggered by vehicles prior to that.

You wrote that you felt that I portrayed the Tatmadaw as a mercenary army. I am very aware that many of your top officers have graduated from some of the most prestigous military academies in the world, and that the Ministry of Defense is an expansive organization which is professionally run. However, when it comes to troops in the field, things are often different. Training for some of your frontline troops appears to be poor, and under the pressures of warfare, order and rule frequently break down- in any army. I have spoken with ordinary Burmese on the streets of Yangon and Mandalay who have had to do a stint of military service. They report, in relation to mines, that they were basically instructed to lay them and forget them. None of these (admitedly few people) reported to me any instuctions to mark them in any way, nor had they ever seen them marked. Now, my pool of interveiwees was rather small, and I could not draw any conclusions from these individuals alone that I could put in our report.

With regard to the Rohingya, I have endeavored to use what appears to me to be international usage. I use the following two sources, both United Nations, both with agreements to work within your country with the Rohingya.

Almost all of the refugees were Rohingyas' although accurate statistics are not available, the Rohingyas are thought to constitute just under half of Rakhines State population, which is estimated at 4.5 million

source U.N.H.C.R. The State of the Worlds Refugees also

In Myanmar, WFP provides assistance to Rohingya returnees following an agreement with the UNHCR, WFP, and the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Source Myanmar, Country Report by World Food Programme I do not consider this section to be factually incorrect but perhaps you can explain to me how I can refer to this more appropriately.

The following section of your letter refers to ceasefires and holdout armed groups. Your assertion that the KNU are the only hold out is surprising.

I enclose a chart which I will be including, in an updated form, in our next Landmine Monitor Report. It is a significant improvement on the incomplete one published in the 1999 Monitor. I assess there to be roughly 26 groups under arms, of which just under half have a ceasefire agreement. Again, I would be pleased to get your comments on this list. It is accurate to the best of my ability to research, but confirmation from the Government of the Union of Myanmar is crucial.

My assertion of ongoing warfare in the listed states is based on the following: Shan State-a Shan State Army(apparently made up of the remnants of the MTA and others) are currently involved in hit and run warfare with Tatmadaw units in central Shan State; Karenni State- you had a ceasefire with the KNPP, but it broke down due to alledged violations by Tatmadaw troops. Shelling was heard from Mae Hong Son, in Thailand last month in the fighting between this group and the Tatmawdaw; Karen State- the KNU and a few other tiny armed groups. In Chin State the so called Chin National Army is also making hit and run attacks on Tatmadaw positions. In Arakan State, there are about a half dozen armed groups, all of them rather small, but they do engage in some guerrilla activities.

While I know few of these problems are reported in the New Light of Myanmar, they do come to the notice of newspapers of the countries who border Myanmar. Here I am not talking about reports by disaffected individuals, I am speaking only of news reports in which the source is either official, or where there are interviews with citizens of the neighboring countries, usually farmers close tot he border who hear the fighting, or cross-border traders who hear or see events.

You wrote that you felt our report lacked objectivity. I am very concerned and somewhat surprised by this. We worked hard to assure our report was balanced, and factually correct. Actually we were fed a lot of propaganda by those you labeled disaffected individuals. I will give you a few examples. In one case, a Thai district level authority told us that the Burmese troops which came across the border were issued 200 landmines apiece to lay. I calculated the weight of the landmines and came to the easy conclusion that the soldier probably could not carry that many and that this was a myth.

In another case, we did visit a camp on Thai soil in which KNU personnel led us to interveiw several mine victims. They all gave an identical story, they were obviously primed to give us this. We disregarded this testimony. We look at each piece of information we receive and cross check it from as many sources as possible. We are very aware that some sources are biased, and take that into account when assessing the information we received. Having access to knowledgeable persons within the Union of Myanmar would help us enormously.

The section on Human minesweepers. Here you have picked on the one part of our report which is the weakest. We did not interview anyone directly who claimed this. However, we were provided with documentation from the International Labor Organizations exhaustive study of forced labor in Myanmar, and have read the interviews they did with people in the field at length. We consider this evidence by a globally respected body to be legitimate.

I have made a great effort to bring input of the Union of Myanmar government into the Landmine Monitor process. Your Embassy and Military Attache here, as I wrote, have been cordial, but not very forthcoming with the type of information we need. I hope that your letter will help bring about action, and that through further communication we can gather accurate information on the state of the landmine crisis. To the best of our ability to tell, no one knows how many mines or victims may be out there in Myanmar. Almost certainly the victims are in the thousands, the mines are in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands. This must be of great concern to you, and we wish to help put together a reliable picture of the problem so that eventually demining and quality care for mine victims can take place during the post-conflict development of these regions.


Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan
Landmine Monitor Researcher Myanmar

Nonviolence International South East Asia 495/44 Soi Yu-Omsin, Jaransanitwong 40
Bangkok 10700 THAILAND

Tel: (66-2) 883-4946
Fax: (66-2) 433-7169