MINEFIELDS, UXO’S, AND TURKISH NON-COMPLIANCE


“Minefields must be marked to prevent fratricide. Marking ensures that friendly soldiers do not accidentally enter a minefield, and it is a requirement under STANAGs and Geneva Convention agreements.”

~ FM 20-32, Mine/Countermine Operations.

The Ankara regime is still making no effort to bring itself in compliance with the Ottawa Treaty, as reported by Bianet.

According to the article, local legislation required by the Treaty has not been passed, there is no National Mine Activity official or center, the regime has stocks of over two million mines which must be disposed of by March, 2008, and there are still a million mines planted within Turkey’s borders, all of which must be removed by 2014. Last year, the regime removed under 18,000 of those.

As discussed earlier on Rastî, the TSK does not emplace minefields according to Geneva Convention requirements or NATO Standardization Agreements (STANAG’s). How are NATO armies supposed to do that? Well, let’s take a look at the US Army’s own field manual on mine operations:

MINEFIELD MARKING

CRITERIA

Minefields must be marked to prevent fratricide. Marking ensures that friendly soldiers do not accidentally enter a minefield, and it is a requirement under STANAGs and Geneva Convention agreements. When emplacing minefields behind the forward line of own troops (FLOT) (in the main battle or rear area), mark the minefields on all four sides. This includes air-delivered Volcano minefields that are sited and emplaced before the enemy attacks.

Gator, RAAM, and ADAM minefields are exceptions to the rule. To preserve the system’s flexibility and because of the relative inaccuracy of emplacement, these minefields are not normally marked before emplacement unless the tactical situation permits. Marking the area where mines are to be emplaced by artillery or fixed-wing aircraft is not recommended. Mines could likely be emplaced outside the marked area.

Forward of the FLOT, minefields are not generally marked before emplacement. However, commanders must make every attempt to mark these minefields as soon as the tactical situation allows. For scatterable minefields, a commander may choose to remove markings once the self-destruct (SD) time of the mines has expired; but the location of the minefield must still be recorded and forwarded to higher and adjacent units in case some of the mines did not self-destruct.

PERIMETER

Construct a perimeter fence (Figure 2-24) to mark a minefield. Start emplacing the perimeter fence before emplacing mines, preferably during site layout if the tactical situation permits. For conventional minefields, ensure that the perimeter fence is at least 15 meters outside the nearest mine or cluster. For scatterable minefields, the area inside the perimeter fence must include the safety zone. (See Chapter 3 for more details.)

Place warning signs for areas containing emplaced mines. Space the warning signs 10 to 50 meters apart, depending on the terrain. If using pickets and barbwire to mark the minefield, ensure that the wire is waist-high. If using concertina wire, use a one-roll height. Place additional strands of barbwire or rolls of concertina at the discretion of the commander.

They even have pictures of how this is supposed to look. How many fences, signs and concertina wire has anyone ever noticed around TSK’s minefields in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan? TSK doesn’t do this for two reasons. First, Mehmet is badly trained. Second, the regime doesn’t care if local Kurds get blown away. Therefore, why bother marking your minefields like a good little NATO member?

Many times, the ones getting blown away are Kurdish children, as mentioned in the Bianet article. However, it sounds like these unfortunate children got ahold of a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO), another scourge that litters the landscape of Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. Everything you want to know about UXO’s and procedures for handling them can be found in another US Army field manual.

According to Bianet, there were posters made up to teach children about the dangers of UXO’s and landmines. What is interesting is the districts where the posters were sent:

Last May, the posters were sent to 11 provinces where mine incidents have been recorded, to be distributed in a number of schools: Agri (670), Batman (392), Bingol (335), Bitlis (393), Diyarbakir (1070), Elazig (430), Hakkari (250), Siirt (341), Sirnak (250), Tunceli (47) and Van (794).

Those are all Kurdish areas; however Sêrt didn’t get the posters.

None of this is really news. Checking Bianet’s archives reveals that the same problems were in place six years ago:

Balci pointed out that the mines in the region continue explode and that many people fall victim to this serious threat. He added that they started their campaign on December 7 in 2000 with the support of the Turkish Human Rights Association (ÝHD) and the Swiss anti-mine campaigners.

“Every year, many people lose their life and many others are seriously injured. Without any serious measures, many villagers will lose their life or be injured in increasing numbers wit the rise in the number of displaced people who want to go back to their land and villages,” Balci told bianet.

They have prepared some booklets about the mine risk in the region and have sent them to parliamentarians and others organisations to request that the mines should be cleared from the region immediately and must not be used ever again, he added.

The campaigners claim that during the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish Army in the 1990s, the depopulated villages had mines laid all around them to block the return of the villagers.

Just as the Ankara regime had no qualms about shooting Kurdish children in Amed this past March, and just as it had no qualms in bombing Kurdish children in Amed on 12 September, so the Ankara regime has no qualms about refusing to demine North Kurdistan, or clear out its UXO’s. This negligence forms part of the passive warfare that the regime wages against the Kurdish people.

For the last six years, Turkey was handed a unilateral ceasefire by the PKK, even though Turkey believed that the war was over, and the issue of TSK’s landmines and UXO’s is yet another example of the criminal footdragging that has characterized the regime’s negative peace for “The Region,” and it is this same regime that is expected to bring about democracy and economic improvements for the Kurdish people?

Don’t hold your breath.

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