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Recent visit to Iraqi Kurdistan to monitor implementation of the Deed of Commitment

Geneva Call’s recent visit to Iraqi Kurdistan to monitor implementation of the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines

Geneva, 22 December 2010

A delegation from Geneva Call has recently visited the mountains of northern Iraq to meet with leaders of the HPG – the armed wing of the PKK – to discuss several matters of humanitarian concern.

Items under discussion included the recent anti-tank mine incident of 1 August in Batman in which four civilians lost their lives. The HPG had immediately recognized its involvement and conducted an investigation into the incident. They presented to the Geneva Call mission the investigative process followed, and the sanctions that were then taken against the perpetrators. While the incident did not violate the obligations of HPG under Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel mines, it did violate HPG’s own policy made after the signing which prohibits the use of all victim-activated devices. “We want to reaffirm our total commitment against all types of mines which are not command detonated, even if the decision to sign the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines put our organization at a military disadvantage,” stated Nurettin Sofi, the General Commander of the HPG.

The meeting also explored options to address the impact on civilians of the large number of unmarked minefields in areas where the HPG operates. These mines are left over from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. HPG clearly expressed its willingness to facilitate mine action in these areas.

In addition, Geneva Call discussed with the HPG the protection of children in armed conflict, and presented its new Deed Commitment on this matter. The HPG welcomed Geneva Call’s initiative and gave the delegation a presentation of its own undertakings on this issue over the last four years.

Lastly, feedback was sought with regards to the international humanitarian law training provided by Geneva Call earlier this year to HPG commanders. The training was very much welcomed by the participants, and internal discussions on the topics raised had taken place following the training. Options for further training were also explored, notably on specific questions such as the protection of women and children, and the prohibition of gender based violence in armed conflict.


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