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In late January, U.S. President Donald Trump removed restrictions on anti-personnel mine deployment by the United States Army, which had been decreed in 2014 by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
According to the White House statement, these restrictions were putting the U.S. troops "at a severe disadvantage."
Of course, the United States had refused to ratify the 1997 Ottawa Treaty, which prohibits the use, production and stockpiling of these indiscriminate killers.
But Barack Obama’s decision clearly showed that the most powerful military power in the world considered that it could do without them.
To President Trump whose knowledge of battlefields is limited to his gulf courses and whose obsessions seem to include undoing what his predecessor had done, we know beforehand that it will be useless to point out why those instruments of death are the ultimate human indignity.
So, we will do it in homage to past victims and those to come.
These weapons blindly kill, whether soldiers or civilians.
These weapons blindly mutilate.
Those weapons keep on blindly killing and mutilating once peace has returned.
Those weapons cripple for life and their cost to society is gigantic.
Here, in Cambodia, landmines still kill and mutilate since, 29 years after the Paris Peace Agreement, mine clearance is still not finished. According to official figures, landmines killed 12 and injured 65 persons last year.
Estimates are that, from 1979 to 2019, unexploded landmines and ammunition have killed 19,780 persons, and have either injured or amputated the limbs of 45,075 others.
In 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and Tun Channareth, a Cambodian who had lost his legs when he had stepped on a landmine, had gone to Oslo to receive the award on behalf of the Campaign.
A “coward’s weapon:” He is the one who had used these words to describe anti-personnel mines. Let’s repeat this today in the hope that these words will reach Washington.