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]

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release