Cluster bombs are a grave humanitarian concern. Unexploded remnants (called “bomblets”) kill in horrible ways: Children play with bomblets thinking they’re toys, and farmers stumble across them tending their fields. The best research available indicates that, over the last 40 years, 98% of cluster bomb casualties have been civilians. This includes 12,000 civilian casualties in Laos and another 4,000 in Iraq. To this day, bomblets are killing civilians and endangering U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
The U.S. arsenal today includes nearly 1 billion of these deadly bomblets, and the U.S. has exported cluster bombs to 30 countries.
Call the Capitol switchboard toll-free: 800-352-1897
* Ask to be connected to the office of one of your senators. (Check http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/officials/ if you’re not sure who your senators are.)
* Once you’re connected, ask for the Legislative Assistant who deals with military and national security issues.
* Tell them you want your senator to co-sponsor S. 594 (the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act) and to work for its passage. Current Senate co-sponsors are: Bingaman (NM), Boxer (CA), Brown (OH), Cantwell (WA), Feingold (WI), Harkin (IA), Kennedy (MA), Leahy (VT), Mikulski (MD), Sanders (VT), Whitehouse (RI). If one or both of your senators have signed on to the measure, please call and thank them and urge them to continue working for its passage.
This initiative takes place as part of a broader Global Day of Action on Cluster Bombs, called by the worldwide Cluster Munitions Coalition to help propel the global cluster bomb treaty negotiations, and endorsed by United for Peace and Justice. If you are outside the U.S., click here for actions you can take: Stop Cluster Munitions
The United States currently produces, stockpiles, trades, and uses cluster bombs, and has remained outside of global efforts to ban the weapon. At a conference in Oslo in February, 46 countries agreed to draft a treaty prohibiting the use, sale, and transfer of cluster munitions by the end of 2008. Forty more countries have joined the effort since then. The United States is not among them.
Over the past 40 years, 98% of all known cluster bomb casualties have been civilians, and because of the weapon’s design, the deaths and maimings do not stop when the bombing ends. Cluster munitions open in mid-air and disperse smaller submunitions or bomblets over a wide area, often as large as several football fields. The smaller cluster bomblets, usually the size of a tennis ball or a soda can, are supposed to explode upon impact, but as many as one in four fail to do so. These unexploded “duds” then become de facto landmines that can explode and kill civilians years after a conflict has ended.
S. 594, introduced by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) is a companion to H.R. 1755 (Rep. McGovern, D-MA). The full text is available here: Library of Congress
A Deadly, Indiscriminate Weapon
“I am sure Ahmed was not a criminal. He was not a terrorist,” Raed Mokaled told a hushed audience of congressional staffers as he described the 1999 death of his five-year-old son and the need to eradicate the deadly, indiscriminate weapon that killed him, and has killed many other children and innocent civilians, over the past four decades.
An optician from southern Lebanon, Mokaled came to the United States in late October as part of a small group of cluster bomb survivors and activists hoping to inform people in the U.S. about the weapon and to persuade legislators to approve a ban on cluster bomb use and exports. In addition to the congressional briefing, the group met with faith leaders in Washington, DC, college students in Boston, and people in several other cities throughout the country.
Cluster bombs pose a particularly severe threat to children, because the unexploded bomblets are brightly colored and often look like toys. Ahmed Mokaled died when he picked up a live cluster bomblet while celebrating his fifth birthday at a family picnic. The bomblet that killed him was left over from Israeli air strikes that occurred years before he was born.
You can find further information here: Friends Committee on National Legislation