Cambodia: Award winners urge landmine ban

Sr Denise Coghlan, OSM, JRS Cambodia director, and Song Kosal, youth ambassador for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, accept their award in Korea and use their time to discuss de-mining in Cambodia.

We beg the world to stop making and laying mines and to help us rebuild our country

Seoul, 16 March 2012 — Anti-landmine campaigners from Cambodia have urged the government to ban using and scrap its stockpiles of landmines and cluster munitions.

Sister Denise Coghlan, founder of the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines (CCBL), and one of its activists, Song Kosal, were in Seoul yesterday to receive this year’s Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Award.

Kosal lost both legs after stepping on a mine in Battambang — the most heavily mined province in Cambodia — when she was five years old.

The pair met Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Foundation chairman, Monsignor Philip Kim Byeong-sang, yesterday in Seoul.

“We beg the world to stop making and laying mines and to help us rebuild our country,” they said during their acceptance speech.

Before the award ceremony, they attended a press conference outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, organized by groups opposed to weapons of mass destruction.

“The Korean government, which is a known producer, importer, exporter and stockpiler of the weapons, has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty due to the unique security situation on the Korean peninsula,” the pair said in statement.

“The government has to sign the treaty and the convention and stop making these weapons immediately,” they urged.

South Korea and North Korea are still technically at war after ceasefire agreement was signed in 1953 ending hostilities in the Korean War (1950-53). China, Russia and the United States have yet to sign the mine treaty.

The CCBL, established in 1994, enables landmine victims to help each other and contributed in forming global public opinion towards establishing the two international agreements.

According to the Korea Mine Clearing Research Institute, there are around 970,000 landmines buried in the DMZ (demilitarized zone) separating North and South Korea.

The Tji Hak-soon award was introduced to honor Bishop Daniel Tji, former bishop of Wonju, in 1997 to promote justice, peace and human rights.

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