KMMK-G Written Statement to 18th Session of Human Rights Council: Land mines in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in the Middle-East

Land mines in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in the Middle-east


International Educational Development, Inc. (IED), the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL), the Association pour les Droits Humains au Kurdistan d’Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G) bring to the attention of the Council the fact that Iran has some of the most hazardous mine fields in the Middle-east and that mines mostly kill and injure people in the Kurdish areas, Khuzestan Province (the Ahwaz-Arab area) and parts of Baluchistan.[1] Explosive remnants of war (ERW) and unexploded ordinance (UXO)  in these areas also include cluster munitions.[2]  .

Iranian authorities have neglected these regions in their de-mining programs, with an obvious seriously impact the daily life of people and hampering the development of agriculture and industry in the region. In our view, the Iranian authorities purposely neglect these regions because of their hostility to the ethnic and religious minorities who reside there.

Despite the international NGO’s frequent requests, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not acceded yet to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Moreover, they have abstained from voting on every annual UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty since 1997.

The scope of the problem

During the Iran–Iraq War, some 12–16 million landmines were emplaced in Iran, covering more than four million hectares (15,444 square miles). Many of these were implanted in the Kurdish areas of Kurdistan, Western Azerbaijan, Ilam and Kermanshah. Additionally, shortly after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the authorities carried out an offensive began in the north of the country against Kurdish rebel groups. As a result of that conflict, the Iranian Army planted mines around their own barracks and compounds in order to prevent Kurdish rebels from attacking. Land mines were not only planted around the borders of Kurdistan, but also in the central areas. In fact, the Pasdaran forces (the Revolutionary Guards) placed mines around its military bases in Kurdish villages, towns and mountains. These forces even placed mines around the water sources in the mountains to impede the Kurdish Peshmerga forces’ access to drinking water. This caused and continues to cause heavy casualties to civilian farmers, nomads, shepherds and sheep traders who used the same sources for water.

While the total number of land mine/ERW casualties in Iran remains untallied, a United Nations report mentions approximately 10,000 casualties by 2006.[3] In the Kurdish media, there are daily reports about civilian victims of mine/ERW. Using these resources, between 1988 and 2002 there were 6,765 landmine casualties in Iran: 437 in Kurdistan with 1720 injured, 601 in Khuzestan with 1,241 injured, 874 in Kermanshah with 522 injured, 730 in Ilam with 250 injured, and 198 in Western Azerbaijan with 192 injured. This  indicates that, except in Khuzestan,  the vast majority of the victims are Kurds. Even with casualty figures this high, the Iranian authorities do not undertake any remedial measures to assist victims in these areas.


Exporting land mines

We are also extremely concerned by the clear evidence that Iran is producing and exporting anti-personnel mines to other countries. For example, Iran has been a major supplier of land mines to opposition forces and other actors in neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan.[4] There is also credible evidence that Iran is supplying land mine to Tajikistan.[5] The Monitoring Group on Somalia reports that Iran has been supplying arms to the Islamic forces there.[6] While the government now states that it has stopped both activities, we doubt that such is the case and urge careful monitoring.

International action

There have been a number of initiatives undertaken to remove mines and to stop their proliferation. A leading private sector initiative is that of Geneva Call and its Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action.[7]  At the present time, all major Kurdish political parties, such as the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan involved in armed conflict with the Iranian army in the past, have signed this commitment. However, due to the interference of the Iranian authorities with groups seeking to help clear existing mines, action is very slow. In this light, we urge the international community as a whole to step up efforts to clear mines in Iran, especially those in the lands of the ethnic and religious minorities.

We are pleased at the appointment of Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheen and his efforts to obtain the co-operation of the Iranian authorities as he carries out his mandate.[8] Unfortunately, the Iranian authorities indicate that they will not allow him to visit the country, but we hope that they will change their mind. Special Rapporteur Shaheen indicates that he intends to consult with all stakeholders, and we look forward to working with him. We especially request him to look into the situation of the Kurdish people as a whole, and especially the urgent need to de-mine all of the neglected areas.

[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 2008, p. 860. See also M.  Afruzmanesh, “Iran: Hidden Menace of Iron Soldiers,” Paywands Iran News (Tehran), 17 June 2008,

[2] See Landmine Monitor Report 2008, p. 860; and E. Banks, “De-mining in Iran,” Journal of Mine Action, Issue 9.2, February 2006,

[3] [6] “Information about Landmine Explosion Victims, UN, “2006 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects,” New York, 2007, p. 199.

[4] One report cites 112 mines recovered, including 50 antipersonnel mines. “Landmines deport smuggled from Commander’s house,” Pajheok Afghan News, 25 January 2088; and see “Iranian Land Mines Found in Taliban Commander’s house,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 25 January 2008.

[5] Tajikistan Article 7 Report, Form B2, 3 February 2008.

[6] The report states that on 25 July 2006 an aircraft carrying arms, including an unknown quantity if mines, from Iran landed at Baldogle airport and was met by senior members of the Courts Union and the Daynile Islamic Court. “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security resolution 1676 (2006).” S/2006/913, 22 November 2006, p. 22.

[7] Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action engages non-state actors in the landmine ban.

[8] UN Press release, Aug. 3, 2011.

(کوردی) کۆبوونه‌وه‌یه‌کی تایبه‌تی شوورای مافی مرۆڤ له‌ ژنێڤ له‌ سه‌ر پێشێلکارییه‌کانی مافی مرۆڤ له‌ سوریا

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(کوردی) کونفرانسێکی ڕۆژنامه‌وانی له‌ باره‌گای کۆمیساریای به‌رزی په‌نابه‌ران له‌ ژنێڤ به بۆنه‌ی 60 هه‌مین ساڵوه‌گه‌ڕی کوانڤانسیۆنی ژنێڤ بۆ داکۆکی له‌ مافی په‌نابه‌ران

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