Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On January 15, ...

... 1953, following a course set in Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia the year before, authorities in East Germany launched a "purge of senior officials accused of plotting against the state and spying for 'imperialistic' powers." Eventually the arrests and detentions would extend "to all political parties, trade unions, youth organisations, women's and pensioners' groups."
... 1997, British politicians reacted angrily to Princess Diana's call for an international landmine ban during her visit to Angola. One Conservative leader said:
We all know landmines and other weapons are vicious and nasty. The question is how best to negotiate so they are not used in future.
The government's policy on this has been an extremely careful one and the statements made by the Princess of Wales have not been in line with that policy.

Diana (above) died in a car crash in Paris in August. Within a year Britain ratified the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer or Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, the treaty, adopted in 1997 in Ottawa, Canada, that bans landmines. Today that Convention, which entered into force in 1999, has 156 states parties; among those not party to the treaty are the United States, Russia and China.

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