25th Shoe Pyramid in support of war victims – 25 years of citizen mobilization. And now ?

September 28, 2019 marks the 25th edition of Handicap International’s Shoe Pyramid. In 1995, the first Pyramid rose to say no to anti-personnel mines. 25 years later, citizen mobilization paid off: two international treaties now prohibit mines and cluster bombs (BASM) .

But today, Handicap International’s fight is intensifying as the number of civilian victims struck by the bombs. In Syrian, Iraqi or Yemeni cities, massive bombing accounts for 92 per cent of civilian casualties. It is urgent to mobilize to put an end to these unworthy practices. **

Historical victories against “cowardly” weapons

In 1992, in the face of the anti-personnel mines scandal, Handicap International (HI) and five other NGOs founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). This “coward’s weapon”, which mutilates and kills in time of war as in times of peace, without distinguishing the civilian from the soldier, is then manufactured and exported by the big Western countries. Faced with economic issues, the fight seems lost in advance. But in 1995, indignation is in full swing as Handicap International launches shoe pyramids that will help raise more than 2 million signatures.

This massive citizen engagement, relayed by the media, will mark a turning point in international law. For the first time, two major treaties will be signed: the Ottawa Treaty Against Antipersonnel Mines in 1997 and the Oslo Treaty against MLAs in 2008. A Citizens’ Victory which divided the number of weapon casualties by four explosive in the world.

Do not relax the fight against the irresponsible practices of war

But the fight continues as current wars unfold in the heart of cities, drowned under bomb mats or trapped by explosive devices, making civilians the first victims. Operation “Roundup” is the name given to the operation led by the coalition for the Battle of Hajin in Iraq. A name that says a lot about remote wars, marked by massive and disproportionate air strikes that ruin entire cities. The images are similar and similar, from Yemen and its war behind closed doors, to Syria where it is estimated that 80,000 people were killed or wounded by explosive weapons and that 10 million people are now exposed explosive remnants of war. The ravages of these practices are now known and documented, it is urgent to act.

Mobilizing to pressure states

In 2015, HI and 19 NGOs launched an international campaign to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, contrary to the principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Four years later, the mobilization of citizens and NGOs is poised to take a major step forward with the opening next November of a political declaration to prohibit these practices. France “Champion of Human Rights”, today facing its contradictions in Yemen, is the absent subscribers.

On the occasion of the 25th edition of the Pyramid of Footwear, Handicap International calls on the French to mobilize for Emmanuel Macron to concretely engage in the diplomatic process aimed at putting an end to these practices.

On September 28th, everywhere in France, citizens are invited to come and launch a shoe, symbol for 25 years of solidarity with the mutilated victims, on the Pyramid and to sign the petition. Through virtual reality, demonstrations of demining, each will also be led to imagine the path of a victim and to act on its scale to say NO to the bombing of civilians.

List of host cities Aurillac (15) Nantes (44)

Avignon (84) Nice (06)

Bordeaux (33) Paris (75)

Lille (59) Reims (51)

Lyon (69) Rennes (35)

Montbrison (42) Toulouse ( 31)

Montpellier (34) Tours (37)

Source: Handicap International – Humanity & Inclusion