The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has declared today to be a Global Day of Action Against Cluster Bombs. In the last several months, the international movement to ban cluster bombs has made substantial progress. Negotiations on an international treaty against cluster weapons are moving forward, despite attempts by the Bush administration - so far unsuccessful - to weaken the treaty. Last month the Senate passed a ban on virtually all cluster bomb exports: Senator Leahy inserted a ban on exporting all cluster bombs with a dud rate of over 1 percent into the bill appropriating money for the Department of State and foreign operations. This bill is currently in conference between the House and the Senate.
If you call your Senators today, you can do it toll-free, thanks to the Friends Committee on National Legislation: 1-800-352-1857. Ask for one of your Senators by name. Tell the staff you urge the Senator to co-sponsor S. 594, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, introduced by Senator Feinstein. S. 594 would substantially restrict both the use and export of cluster bombs by requiring that they not be used in areas where civilians are known to be present; and requiring that they have a dud rate of less than 1 percent.
You can also write your Senators and Representative here. (There is a companion bill in the House.) Ask your friends and family to contact their Senators as well.
Cluster bombs release thousands of bomblets over a large area, many of which fail to explode on impact and later kill or maim innocent people who stumble across them. Handicap International estimates that 98 percent of all cluster bomb victims are civilians.
The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act would prevent the U.S. military from using cluster bombs in areas where civilians are known to be present. But the Bush administration says the military benefits outweigh the civilian costs. Ask your Senator to take a stand on behalf of the civilian victims of these weapons.
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