- Cluster bombs and teddy bears
- ISIS fighters 'hiding bombs in teddy bears, dolls, fridges and televisions as booby traps'
- Cluster bombs and teddy bears - Telegraph
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Like landmines, cluster bombs are generally recognised as abhorrent weapons.
Since their widespread use by the USA in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the s and s, the public conscience has recoiled at weapons that scatter explosives indiscriminately over a wide area. The first proposals to ban cluster bombs were made in Since that time the weapons have been used in some 25 countries and, most worryingly, they are now in the arsenals of 70 states world-wide. Many of the recorded casualties are young boys drawn by curiosity to investigate the small, unfamiliar and intriguing objects that are left littering their environment.
If they are not killed outright then the resulting injuries, such as loss of hands or sight, will often mean a life of physical, economic and social hardship in countries ill equipped to support people with disabilities.
Cluster bombs and teddy bears
The relief of parents that have seen their family survive a war can turn quickly to grief that the conflict has not really ceased, that the violence of the past can still tear their lives apart. Despite scattering nearly two hundred thousand lethal submunitions during the bombing of Kosovo and the invasion of Iraq, the Government has failed to produce any evidence that these weapons made a real contribution to achieving military objectives.
If it is not clear that they have actually helped the UK to win wars, it is certain that they do not help to win the peace. Although trying to keep one foot in the camp working for a meaningful treaty, the UK really supports the go-slow approach - hoping to hide behind the coattails of China, Russia and the USA.
ISIS fighters 'hiding bombs in teddy bears, dolls, fridges and televisions as booby traps'
Rather than ensuring that cluster munitions are banned, the UK actually wants a treaty to legitimise the millions of these weapons that it still has in stocks. Unfortunately, when Israel used these same munitions in Lebanon in they were left littering the homes, gardens and fields of the civilian population. This has been picked up on by MPs in Parliament. Despite this rejection, the Government is working to create an international law based on this same solution. Despite the rhetoric, close scrutiny shows that protection of civilians is rarely at the forefront of Government thinking on this issue.
Yet officials have refused to reveal what evidence regarding civilian harm was actually considered - it is known that the assessment contained no statistics regarding civilian casualties, nor on the quantities of unexploded bombs left in different post-conflict environments, nor statistics on the areas of land painstakingly cleared by civilian teams and funded out of precious development monies.
Given that the lives of real men, women and children are at stake, the approach taken is disgraceful. It seems to be based on two premises - one which is misguided and the other which is simply callous.
Cluster bombs and teddy bears - Telegraph
An airplane, chartered by the Swedish advertising agency Studio Total , illegally entered the Belarusian airspace on July 4 and parachuted several hundred teddy bears with notes carrying pro-democracy messages. After denying for three weeks that the incident ever took place and calling the footage of the airdrop released by Studio Total a hoax, the Belarus government finally acknowledged on July 26, , that the teddy bear airdrop did happen.
The event greatly angered the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko , who viewed it as a significant national security failure. Lukashenko sacked two top generals, the heads of Belarus' border guards and of Air Defense, for failing to intercept the Studio Total plane. On August 3, , Belarus expelled the Swedish Ambassador and subsequently ordered the remaining staff of the Swedish embassy to leave Belarus by the end of the month.
Belarus also withdrew its ambassador and all of its embassy staff from Sweden. On July 4, , a small airplane, chartered by the Swedish advertising agency Studio Total and with two people on board, took off from an airfield in Lithuania  and illegally entered the Belarus airspace, crossing the Belarusian border from Lithuania.
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The plane dropped several hundred teddy bears , carrying cards and notes with pro-democracy, pro-freedom of speech and protest messages, over the Belarusian town of Ivyanets , near Minsk. The organizers of the airdrop originally planned to drop some of the teddy bears over state government buildings in Minsk, but uncertainties over the fuel supply and also the fact that the plane had been contacted by the Belarusian air traffic controllers resulted in a decision to drop the bears over Ivyanets and then head back. One of the pilots of the Studio Total plane involved in the airdrop, Tomas Mazetti, stated that the idea to use teddy bears came from Belarusian pro-democracy activists, who had been arrested on many occasions by the authorities and started carrying teddy bears with protest slogans demanding freedom of speech.
The teddy bears were regularly confiscated by the police and the Studio Total airdrop was intended as a solidarity gesture: According to Mazetti, the flight inside Belarusian airspace lasted for about an hour and a half, at the altitude of about 50 meters, or feet.
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The two people on board the teddy bear flight, Tomas Mazetti and Hannah Frey, spent about a year preparing for the airdrop operation. After the airdrop Studio Total released several short video-clips of the operation.
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A number of videos, made by Belarusians who observed the drop, of parachuting teddy bears were posted on YouTube and went viral. However, the initial reaction both by the Swedish media and by the Belarusian state media, to the Studio Total claims of the airdrop, was skeptical. The Belarusian authorities initially issued stringent denials that the teddy bear airdrop ever occurred and that there was any unauthorized intrusion of the Belarus air space on July 4.
Belarusian government officials claimed that the Studio Total video of the drop was fake and characterized it as a "hoax" designed to embarrass the Belarus government. Radio Free Europe examined the footage and concluded that it appeared to be authentic. On July 13, authorities in Belarus arrested a year-old student journalist, Anton Suryapin , who posted on his website, Bnp.
Several days prior to Suryapin's arrest, the police in Minsk arrested a realtor, Syarhei Basharimau, who had rented an apartment in the capital to two Swedes connected with Studio Total. Representatives of Studio Total claim that neither Suryapin nor Basharimau were in any way involved in planning and conducting the airdrop and called for their release. Both Suryapin and Basharimau, who have been formally charged, were released on bail on August 17, and face up to seven years imprisonment.
In early August two journalists, Irina Kozlik and Yulia Doroshkevich, who took photos of teddy bears in solidarity with Suryapin and Basharimau, were arrested in Minsk and then convicted of "violating the law on protests" and fined the equivalent of several hundred U. After three weeks of denials by the Belarusian authorities that the event actually occurred, on July 26, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko finally acknowledged that the July 4 teddy bear airdrop did take place.
President Lukashenko was reported to have been greatly angered by the teddy bear airdrop and by the failure of the Belarusian military to intercept it, which he viewed as a significant national security lapse.