Friday, August 15, 2008

Russians use Cluster Munitions Against Civilians

The authorities of Georgia possess comprehensive evidence, proving that different types of heavy conventional weapons, including cluster munitions, Rocket Complex 9M72 Iskander (SS-26 Stone) etc., have been indiscriminately used against civilian population and infrastructure of Georgia. The utilization of such weapons against peaceful population and civilian objects vividly reveals the inhuman brutality of Russian troops acting on the territory of Georgia.

The number of civilian targets bombed or otherwise attacked by the Russian armed forces clearly indicates that it was not just a collateral damage: apartment buildings, Gori market and municipality, Poti seaport, the railway station and airport in Senaki, BTC pipeline, Kopitnari airport near Kutaisi, airfield in Upper Abkhazia, bridges linking eastern and western Georgia, civilian radar station near Tbilisi, etc.

It must be especially stressed, that the use of cluster munitions against civilian population is especially cynical next to the background of the efforts applied by the international community to restrict and even ban such types of weaponry.

Even after reaching agreement on August 12 on principles of resolution of Georgian-Russian conflict, mediated by the President of France, Russian Federation still continued bombing of civilian targets far beyond the conflict regions, causing mass destruction of infrastructure and severe physical and moral damage to the civilian population. Considering the aforementioned facts, we get a clear picture that the Russian troops continued their atrocities against civilian population of Georgia long after factual cease of hostilities against the Georgian armed forces, thus severely violating core principles of international humanitarian law.

Our information is confirmed by the data released by Human Rights Watch according to which, Russian military planes dropped RBK-250 cluster bombs, each containing 30 PTAB 2.5M sub-munitions, on the town of Ruisi in the Kareli district of Georgia on August 12, 2008. Three civilians were killed and five wounded in the attack. On the same day, a cluster strike in the center of the town of Gori killed at least eight civilians and injured dozens. Reportedly, the Dutch journalist Stan Storimans fell a victim to a cluster attack as well.

It is imperative that in the nearest future the international community must thoroughly consider, investigate and assess all violations of the international law by the Russian side.

Such actions must be unacceptable to all the democratic countries of the world, and should draw us together in strong and universal condemnation of the Russian aggression.