28 March 2012

Cambodian campaigners receive justice and peace Award

Campaigners from Cambodia call on South Korea to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty. Photo credit: Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions The Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions, a member of the ICBL-CMC, was awarded the 15th Tji Haksoon Justice and Peace Award 2012 on 14 March 2012 in recognition of their dedication to the welfare and rights of landmine victims. During the visit, campaigners took the opportunity to urge the South Korean government to stop the manufacture of cluster munitions in the country and to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty. Sister Denise Coghlan, the Director of the Cambodia Campaign and Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Cambodia, and Song Kosal, Youth Ambassador to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, accepted the award at a ceremony in Seoul. The award is named after the deceased Bishop Tji Haksoon, who offered his entire life to peace and justice in South Korea.The Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines has campaigned around the world since its inception in 1994. "The number of new victims in Cambodia has been reduced dramatically but even one victim is too many," said Kosal, who lost a leg after stepping on a mine in Battambang — the most heavily mined province in Cambodia — when she was just five years old.South Korea is a producer, exporter and stockpiler of cluster munitons. South Korea has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Cluster Munitions and neither has North Korea. Both countries argue that these are necessary for "defence" in their continuing conflict, and maintain a border littered with landmines, although the humanitarian impact of these outdated weapons far outweighs any military utility.The four-day whirlwind visit to Seoul also included protests, talks and ceremonies. Local NGOs, including ‘Weapons Zero’, joined the Cambodian team in campaign actions outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with some campaigners dressed as cluster bombs. The next day Sister Denise and Kosal entered the very same building and addressed the Foreign and Defence Ministries.