Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Landmine victims pay respects to late King Father

Landmine victims pay respects to late King Father

Landmine victims pay respects to late King Father

Sok Kosal stepped on a landmine in Battambang province at a young age — so young that Kosal’s mother had to tell her later in life how old she was when it happened. She was five, and the explosive device took off one of her legs above the knee.

When Kosal grew older, she joined the fight to rid Cambodia of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and unexploded ordnance. Yesterday, she travelled to Phnom Penh to thank the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk for his contributions to the cause.

“I am a victim of a landmine. It is so hurtful. I do not want to see other Cambodians undergo this,” she said.

One of Sihanouk’s lesser-known credentials was his support in the mid-1990s for activists who lobbied the Cambodian government to sign up to the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines and collected more than 40,000 signatures, including the late King Father’s, in the process.

“He not only signed, he made an announcement to ban anti-personnel landmines, to clear the land, to provide more support for people with disabilities,” said Tun Channareth, who was in his early 20s in 1982 when he lost both his legs after triggering a landmine near the border with Thailand, where he served as a soldier.

Cambodia was one of 122 countries to sign the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa, Canada in 1997.

Channareth went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the international campaign and now works in survivor outreach.

Using wheelchairs and crutches, the small group of landmine victims paid their respects at the Royal Palace, where the King Father’s body has lain in state.

Landmines, unexploded ordnance and cluster munitions planted in Cambodian soil are the results of decades of conflict that began with the civil war in the 1970s, continued through the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, and dragged on well into the guerrilla warfare of the 1990s.

Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said his organisation had destroyed 3.5 million mines since 1992.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at [email protected]
Joe Freeman at [email protected]

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all