11 November 2011

With just over two weeks to go until the 11MSP, ICBL interviewed Muteber Ögreten ICBL Campaigner from the Initiative for a Mine Free Turkey. Here Mutebar shares her experience campaigning in an affected country and her views on steps Turkey must take in order to fulfill its treaty obligations. In the run up to the 11MSP, which is being held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between 28 November and 2 December 2011, the ICBL will be highlighting the amazing work of some of our campaigners from around the world. Read their stories in their own words and how they are working hard to Push For Progress towards a mine free world.

1) When and how did you become involved with the ICBL?

I got involved with the ICBL ten years ago, and it all started with a phone call! In 2001 a friend of mine who was working for the Landmine Monitor asked if I could help out with translating the Monitor report into Turkish and sharing the news with the national media. I agreed to do this and we decided then to launch a national campaign to ban landmines in Turkey.

2) Why did you become involved? Personal experience, inspired by others in the campaign, political or humanitarian interest, or something else entirely?

It is difficult for me to give one reason why I became involved with the ICBL. Of course one of the main reasons is because Turkey is a country affected by landmines. Even though there are nearly a hundred mine accidents per year in Turkey, mine victims and the problems they face are still not being addressed. When we started campaigning in Turkey, Turkey was not a State Party but it then acceded in 2003. Even though Turkey has been a State Party for over 7 years now, problems caused by landmines still continue in Turkey. Another reason I am involved in campaigning against landmines is the inspiration that ICBL gives me based on the 20 years of knowledge and experience the campaign has.

3) As an ICBL national campaigner how would you like to see states – either your country or others – Push for Progress at the 11MSP?

I would like to see the countries who have missed their mine clearance deadline make a good request for the deadline extension, and clear their land as quickly as possible. Unfortunately Turkey has not done much to clear its land and will most probably be among these countries that will need to ask for more time. However, States Parties should act with the consciousness that each day that mine clearance doesn’t happen means new victims, and they should do their best to finish clearance without having to request an extension. In addition, Turkey missed its stockpile destruction deadline and has been in violation of the treaty since 2008.

In Phnom Penh, I would like to see Turkey report on final completion of its stockpile destruction. There are over 5000 survivors living in Turkey, and we expect that the Government of Turkey will present its survivor assistance plan at the meeting, and will turn this plan into concrete action that benefits the people.

4) What message do you have for anyone out there who isn’t aware of the lethal threat landmines still pose for thousands of civilians every day?

Landmines do not know the difference between soldiers or civilians, children or the elderly, women or men, friends or enemies, the time of peace or war. Landmines only have one purpose and that is to blindly kill and injure. Landmines can wait for many years for their target. The next generation can be affected by landmines that were placed before they were even born. In hundreds of countries, thousands of people are working to stop the lethal risk that landmines pose. With each passing day, we are coming closer to a Mine Free World - join us to Push for Progress together so that we can reach this goal soon!