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Report on the Day of Action to Ban Uranium Weapons in Belgium

28 September 2006 - RISQ

Report on the Day of Action to Ban Uranium Weapons in Belgium
6th November 2004

In Belgium, the Day of Action actually started on the 5th of November in Brussels.

Early in the morning, the campaign "My Money. Clear Conscience?" organised by Netwerk Vlaanderen, Forum voor Vredesactie, Vrede and For Mother Earth paid a visit to the headquarters of four of the largest banks in Belgium, in order to draw attention to the banks' investments in companies that produce depleted uranium weapons. The activists handed out leaflets to staff members entering the offices, and explained their opposition to the financing of companies involved in these deadly and illegal weapons.

A report published earlier this year revealed that the banks AXA, Dexia, Fortis and ING invest their own money or the money of their customers in companies that produce DU weapons (see the article 'Banks and Bombs'). A fifth bank named in the report (KBC) has since decided to end its involvement with these companies, after pressure from the campaign and the Belgian Coalition Stop Uranium Weapons!

Later in the morning, activists of the Belgian Coalition Stop Uranium Weapons! held a protest action in front of the Belgian Ministry of Defence, in order to express their desire for a ban on uranium weapons. The action symbolically sealed off the Ministry of Defence, as a zone contaminated with toxic and radioactive depleted uranium. Images of the victims of uranium weapons were also attached to the fence of the ministry, as a graphic reminder of the effects of the weapons.

A delegation from the coalition also handed over thousands of signatures to the Ministry of Defence calling for a ban on weapon systems containing depleted uranium. After the presentation of the signed petitions the delegation discussed the demands of the coalition towards the Belgian government. These Demands were also presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the 3th of November a delegation of the Belgian Coalition met with the advisor of the Prime Minister. At 5 p.m. a vigil for all victims of U weapons took place at the Beurs square in the centre of Brussels. Information was available at a table, candle lights were set up on the stairs of the Beurs Building. The banner 'Stop Uranium Wapens' and photo's of DU weapons victims informed the people and passers-by about the issue.

Press Release

Ministry of Defence in Brussels closed due to Depleted Uranium - International action for a Uranium Weapon Free World

5/11/2004, Brussels - This morning, activists of the Belgian Coalition Stop Uranium Weapons! held a protest action in front of the Belgian Ministry of Defence, in order to express their desire for a ban on uranium weapons.

Politicians from different political parties were present to support this action. The action symbolically sealed off the Ministry of Defence, as a zone contaminated with toxic and radioactive depleted uranium.

A delegation from the coalition also handed over thousands of signatures to the Ministry of Defence (Lambermontstraat 8) calling for a ban on weapon systems containing depleted uranium. After the presentation of the signed petitions the delegation discussed the demands of the coalition towards the Belgian government (included below). These demands were also presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This action is part of an international day of action organised by the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, which aims to pressure governments to endorse an international treaty for a ban on uranium weapons. The action takes place to mark the United Nations day for the Prevention of the Exploitation of the Environment during wars and armed conflicts, 6th November.

When a DU-projectile impacts on a hard object it turns partly to dust particles of uranium oxides. Wind and water can carry along these oxides, which can cause cancers if they enter the body. Under certain conditions depleted uranium may damage the genetic material DNA.

A spokesperson of the Belgian Coalition Stop Uranium Weapons! stated

"The UN-Sub-Commission on Human Rights has labelled 'conventional' weapons that contain depleted uranium as illegal weaponry, because of the indiscriminate nature of the weapons. Uranium weapons cannot make a distinction between civilians and soldiers. Nevertheless, these weapons have been widely used in the US led wars in Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. Belgium has still not ruled out the use of these weapons, and supports NATO operations that use depleted uranium."

Demands to the Belgian Government

The 'Belgische Coalitie Stop Uranium Wapens!', consisting of

Voor Moeder Aarde - ACV-Brussel - Netwerk-Vlaanderen - Greenpeace - Artsen voor Vrede - International Action for Liberation - Geneeskunde voor de Derde Wereld - Forum voor Vredesactie - Vakbondsmensen In Verzet tegen

Oorlog - Mouvement Chr?tien pour la Paix - Stop United States of Aggression - Aktie Vredesbelasting - Pax Christi Vlaanderen - Vlaams Overleg Duurzame Ontwikkeling - Coordination Nationale d'Action pour la Paix et la D?mocratie - Pax Christi Leuven - Bond Beter Leefmilieu -Oxfam - Solidariteit - Vrede

demands urgently:

* that Belgium will, by no means including third parties be involved in the design, the production, the purchase, the testing, the transport, the storage and the use of weapons that contain uranium*
* that Belgium works on an international level in order to prohibit the design, the production, the purchase, the testing, the transport, the storage and the storage of uranium weapons
* that Belgium urges NATO to map the regions targeted with uranium weapons and the spots where these weapons are stored. These regions must be made public
* that the Belgian government deploys no military and humanitarian missions to uranium-contaminated sites
* that Belgium plays a pioneering role in establishing a 'total ban on uranium weapons', as it did in the course of the campaign against landmines
* that Belgium bears a part of the costs of decontamination, including the costs for medical assistance
* that Belgium takes the initiative for the foundation of an aid-fund compensating the victimised populations.

* 'Uranium': 'depleted', 'non-depleted', and uranium 'contaminated with fission products from the nuclear industry'