Target: President Obama
Goal: Limit the use of anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, and urge the United States to pledge to ban landmines
During the Vietnam War, United States military planes dropped 260 million anti-personnel munitions on Laos, a neutral country in that war, 80 million of which did not explode. Since 1964, 50,000 Laotians have been killed or maimed, and still today Laos averages four new landmine victims a week. Cambodian officials estimate there are between 4 and 6 million mines and unexploded ordnance leftover littered throughout rural Cambodia with 270 casualties in 2008, a third of which were young children. The Landmine Monitor estimated more than 73,000 casualties in 119 difference countries over the past ten years, 71 % of which were civilian casualties and 32% were children.
Fifteen years since the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was signed in Ottawa, landmine casualties have been halved. The Ottawa Treaty, as it is known, was to show international dedication and commitment to ban anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs as well as pursue avenues of mine clearance and victim assistance. But today, specifically in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Cambodia, numbers of landmine casualties have either gone up or simply stayed the same. While the three leaders in landmine ownership, China, Russia and the U.S., have not manufactured new anti-personnel landmines, none have signed the treaty to ban landmines, and the U.S. currently actively uses cluster bombs and anti-personnel landmines throughout Afghanistan.
Anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs are not a necessity of war. The majority of the victims are civilians and many of those are children. While other mines are designed to damage vehicles or kill out right, anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs are created specifically to injure with the idea of crippling logistical and medical support for enemy forces. But the truth is that these mines mostly maimed civilians, particularly children. Since the International Campaign to Ban Landmines surfaced, the number of landmine victims has gone down. As a country that prides itself on humanitarian work and aid, the United States needs to sign the Ottawa Treaty and discontinue use of anti-personnel mines. Wars are not won with landmines; innocent civilians are injured and killed by them.
Sign the petition below and demand that the U.S. sign the Ottawa Treaty and support the Campaign to Ban Landmines internationally.
Dear President Obama,
Landmines are an unnecessary and tragic result of war. Anti-personnel and cluster landmines are planted specifically to injure, not kill, with the idea of crippling the enemy’s logistical team. The reality is three-quarters of casualties are civilians and most of them are children. Over the last decade there have been more than 73,000 casualties in 119 different countries caused by anti-personnel mines. Currently in Afghanistan, American troops are laying these mines, and the casualty results have been mostly young children. Last year, Laos averaged four new landmine victims a week from mines leftover from the Vietnam War.
Fifteen years ago the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was created and the treaty was signed in Ottawa, Canada. Since 1997 and the creation of the treaty, the number of landmine casualties has dropped by half on a global scale, but in certain countries numbers of casualties has either stayed the same or grown. Afghanistan, Cambodia, Columbia and Laos are a few of the countries where the number of landmine victims has not dropped significantly. The United States owns one of the world’s largest stockpiles of landmines and has yet to sign the Campaign to Ban Landmines, or Ottawa Treaty, along with two of the other world leaders in quantity of landmine ownership, China and Russia.
The goal of the Ottawa Treaty is to eliminate anti-personnel land mines globally. The treaty does not ask for dismantling of all landmines, simply anti-personnel or human targeting landmines. The United States needs to set an example, sign this treaty, and discontinue human targeting landmines in Afghanistan and around the world. I urge you to consider the reality of landmine casualties and sign the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Landmine Action