Target: Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed
Goal: Convince the government of Yemen to remove dangerous landmines near the capital city.
In 2011, the Republican Guards of Yemen ordered illegal antipersonnel mines laid north of Yemen’s capital city, Saan’a. Since then, 15 Yemeni civilians, including nine children, have been killed by the mines, but the Yemeni government has steadfastly refused to remove them. It is estimated that as many as 8,000 mines were placed in the area, the vast majority of which remain an active and unmarked danger to the people of Saan’a.
The Yemeni government has in the past denied the usage of landmines, stating in 2002 that their stores of the banned munitions were destroyed in compliance with the Mine Ban Treaty. However, a Republican Guard captain, Ahmed al-Jakee, recently admitted that he had ordered his brigade to plant the landmines in clear defiance of the treaty. Furthermore, there has not been any non-Republican Guard military activity in the area that might explain the landmines, leaving no question as to the state’s responsibility for them. Despite this, the government of Yemen has both refused to cordon the area and remove the mines from it, as well as turning away a foreign activist group attempting to remove the mines.
Now, as a week-long meeting of state parties regarding to the Land Mine Treaty looms near, we must urge the Yemeni government to address this issue. It is their responsibility to mark where these landmines are planted, pay restitution to the families of those killed and injured by the landmines, and take steps to remove them before anyone else is hurt.
Dear Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed,
In light of Commander Ahmed Al-Jakee’s recent disclosure, as well as other mounting evidence, it has become obvious that the department which you now head is guilty of placing landmines North of Saan’a in 2011, in direct violation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Since then, 15 civilians have been killed by these mines, nine of them children, and many more injured. It is thus the responsibility of the government of Yemen to remove these dangerous and illegal mines before anyone else is hurt by them.
We urge you to mark where these illegal landmines are, take steps to remove them, and pay restitution to the families of those injured by them. Until you do, the people of Saan’a will be in constant danger from these munitions.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Antti Salonen