04 September 2008

The ICBL welcomed today the recent destruction of 392 antipersonnel landmines by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), in Koya, northern Iraq. The news was announced by Swiss-based NGO Geneva Call in a press release on 1 September 2008.

According to information provided by Geneva Call, the mines destroyed included Italian, Chinese, as well as mines of US and Russian design but of unknown manufacture. Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) carried out the destruction activity.

The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) signed the Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action, administered by Geneva Call, in December 2007 (see http://www.icbl.org/news/iran_gc). T

his destruction took place within 9 months of their agreeing to the Deed of Commitment, which commits non-state armed groups to banning the use, production, acquisition and transfer of antipersonnel mines, to destroying their antipersonnel mine stocks, and to facilitating mine action activities.

In August 2008, Geneva Call was shown boxes which they estimated contained a stockpile of more than 400 antipersonnel mines by the PDKI.Geneva Call Programme Officer for the Middle East, Armin Köhli who witnessed the destruction, stated that Geneva Call "will follow up with them to clarify if this was the complete stockpile, and to assist them in undertaking other concrete steps of mine action in accordance with their commitment."The PDKI stated that it halted all armed activities in 1997, but, according a December 2007 Geneva Call press release, maintains a militia.

The PDKI’s declaration that it will forego the use of antipersonnel mines, and this destruction of stockpiled antipersonnel mines are the first by an armed group in Iran. The group was not previously reported in the Landmine Monitor to use antipersonnel landmines, but has stated to Geneva Call that it did use antipersonnel mines prior to halting armed activity.

** Read more about the landmine situation in Iran and Iraq in the Landmine Monitor Report