12:00pm Thursday 9th October 2003
PERSHORE branch members of Amnesty International have given a dramatic illustration of the human cost of small arms warfare.
To coincide with the launch today (Thursday) of a campaign - Control Arms - to restrict the use of the weapons, Pershore members, together with friends and families, posed as dead victims.
The Control Arms campaign has been launched jointly by Amnesty, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).
One Pershore Amnesty member, journalist Brian Johnson-Thomas, explained the scale of the loss of life caused by small arms.
"Every minute, someone is killed in the world by small arms," he said, adding that the number of civilians dying was far outstripping those killed in past conflicts.
"In the wars of last century, 20 per cent of those killed in the First World War were civilians and 40 per cent in the Second World War," he said.
The figure in more recent and current conflicts was 90 per cent.
"Most of those people are killed not by tanks and bombs but by small arms," said Mr Johnson-Thomas, who added that Amnesty's new campaign was intended to persuade governments across the globe to sign up to an international treaty to clamp down on the availability and use of small arms.
"Leaving aside all the brouhaha about rogue states and weapons of mass destruction, most people are actually killed by rifles and machine guns," said Mr Johnson-Thomas.
Among measures being called for by campaigners are rigorous controls of national arms exports.
They also want local authorities and community leaders to help improve safety at community level by developing projects to reduce the availability and demand for arms.
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