Mine Awareness

I apologise for presenting another serious topic, but tomorrow is the third annual International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

It’s said that landmines kill or injure three every hour. About three quarters of casualties are civilians, many of them children. I’m sure that everyone reading this can imagine how tragic it would be if their children were not able to play outside without the risk of accidentally detonating a mine and being blown limb from limb. There would, of course, be outrage and something would be done about it.

Similarly thought-provoking is this compelling video, showcasing one man’s acrobatic attempts to get around London without touching the ground. In some regions, it’s safer to keep off the ground, such is the proliferation of explosives.

A weapon of mass destruction in violation of international humanitarian law, it’s now ten years since the Mine Ban Treaty came into force.

156 countries have committed to its terms, the following 39 have not: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Finland, Georgia, India, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, North Korea, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tonga, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Spot the odd ones out. (Need a clue? Appallingly, three are permanent members of the UN Security Council and didn’t have much time for last year’s Convention on Cluster Munitions, either.)

You can guess what most of these countries have in common and easily imagine what the presence of landmines means to those in the Third World, in whose soil most of the damned things remain buried, rendering acres of farmland unusable.

Although the US hasn’t used anti-personnel mines since 1991, hasn’t exported any since 1992, and hasn’t produced any since 1997, it still stockpiles more than ten million for potential future use (as well as seven-and-a-half million anti-vehicle mines), which is the world’s third largest stash after China’s and Russia’s.

Russia, itself heavily contaminated with explosive remnants of war, allegedly used anti-personnel mines in Georgia just last year. China is one of the world’s largest producers of anti-personnel mines, with an estimated stockpile of – brace yourselves – 110 million. And no, that’s not a typo. If only.

If your country is on the above list and has yet to sign the treaty, please let your leaders know that you’d like them to. If your country has signed, please let your leaders know that you’d like them to lobby those that haven’t.

There’s also a hard-hitting documentary, available on DVD, called Disarm. Have a look at the trailer and, if you haven’t already, you’ll realise its relevance.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

44 thoughts on “Mine Awareness”

  1. Thanks for the video and the trailer. I’ve never seen the DVD around, but I will watch it if I find it.

    Here there are the links to a couple of websites I found.

    Stop Landmines
    Landmine Victims

    There are lots in the net. The first one is also very connected to the video of the acrobat in London.

    1. Thank you for the links.

      I was amazed at how far Lewis – of freerun group, Urban Freeflow – was able to travel without touching the ground, weren’t you?

      They should get some less agile people to have a go. Maybe there could be a charge to watch willing volunteers falling off walls and tripping over bollards; all money raised to support the cause, of course. They could have mobile downloads, a live webcast, maybe a spin-off DVD or pay-per-view TV special. Get Benny Hill’s theme tune on there and that would be a video worth watching, wouldn’t it? Besides, I’m sure there are some very needy C-list celebrities in need of exposure and not at all fussy as to how they get it.

      Yet another brilliant idea… 😉

    2. Great! :))

      Of course, someone should suggest something like that to those C-list celebrities, instead of the same, old reality shows.

  2. Sometimes I get so disgusted with the leaders of my nation. It is not a liberal thing or a conservative thing, although some people would have you believe that. It is a humanitarian thing, an issue of man’s inhumanity to man.

    Once buried, landmines remain a menace forever. I am told that from time to time, someone inadvertently trips a mine from World War 2. The cost of stepping on the wrong spot? Getting blown to bits.

    I am disgusted with the fact that people can create these situations in the first place, and then not to fix them. There is no reason to have buried these things in the first place, and even less reason to have left them there after the war ended.

    The reason for my disgust? We’re all brothers and sisters, sharing this planet and dependant upon each other for survival. We should be building bridges (working on common goals), not burying land mines (essentially saying “I think nothing of slaughtering your civilians”).

    It disgusts me that my country is among those who won’t ban these things, which are being stockpiled fin droves or potential use in my name. It infuriates me that we’re essentially planning to blow up more innocent people in the future.

    Einstein said that you cannot simultaneously prevent and plan for war. We’re making the plans for the next war. It is disgusting.

  3. It’s shameful what people can do.

    I’ve seen some children victims of landmines in Bosnia a couple of years ago, I helped a person there and he told me his life during the years of war, indescribable. Now children play football and many times the game turns into tragedy, it’s really touching when you realize that they have the strength to smile (when they survive).

    EU, UN, US etc. should really move on.

    Anyway, have a nice weekend everybody. I hope that you’re OK and that Mr Gilmour is very well.

    Hasta pronto Fed.

  4. A compelling and frightening image.

    Lady Diana had the guts to tackle this subject many years ago, bless her heart! :v

    1. And yet her children are part of a force that used cluster bombs in Afghanistan. Very sad. I always worry when Royal members join the military… are they expecting a revolution or something?

      What angered me during the invasion of Afghanistan was when America dropped thousands of packets of rations supposedly to help those in Afghanistan that were without food. These packets were the exact same yellow colour as the bomblets from the cluster bombs they had previously dropped… many of which would be picked up by children playing in fields.

  5. A sad world we are living in.

    I grew up in a war torn country for all my young life. It became “normal” in my mind. At age 6-14, I thought seeing dead bodies and running to the basement and hearing gun fire days and nights were the norm. But I was deeply frightened and sad inside.

    On the outside, I tried to be as normal as I could. Lots of times I remember numbing my heart and eyes when I saw dead bodies or body parts on the streets. Children lost parents looking lost and despaired. All my friends were gone. At times, I was hungry and thirsty and had nothing to eat. What helped me to be intact was that I used my imagination and let my spirit travel to a far cold place, I called her Antarctica. I guessed I was dreaming for peace and love even though at the coldest place on Earth. I believe love was still there to bridge people, nations, races and some how that was enough for me to survive all those years.

    I am glad that stage of my life is over. That period of my life helped me to be a better person. I learned that love has no boundary if we just surrender ourselves and let our minds and hearts penetrate to others through kindness and compassion. The force to peace is most moving and powerful when we put love first for ourselves and for others. We can stop the tears for our children when we became “adults”. Adults that model and pave ways for our children to see that we can settle our differences through understanding for one another.

    Perhaps one day humanity will learn.

    1. Perhaps one day humanity will learn.

      Well I hope so, but it appears to be taking a seriously long time for that to come about. To use a religious example (seeing as it is Holy Week), over 2,000 years ago Christ taught about forgiveness, non-judgmentalism and loving thy neighbour as thyself. Yet those claiming to be his followers spent the next two millennia burning people at the stake, torturing them in dungeons and generally oppressing anyone that had opinions or beliefs that differed with Official Church Doctrine.

      When we finally get rid of all these false religions I think that the world will be a much better place to have an incarnation in. Even if this means it will be more boring than it already is on this particular planet, I am more than willing to make such a sacrifice in the name of Liberty and human evolution.

      There is always the Playstation to counter such boredom, if you can afford one.

  6. Children are our future, but they have always been innocent victims of all sort of conflicts/problems (wars, hunger, work at a young age in some parts of the world, divorces, AIDS, even prostitution…)

    Neither The Ottawa Treaty (landmines) nor the Oslo Convention (cluster munitions) have been signed by the US, but President Obama (during his ‘charm campaign’ in Europe) called for “a world free of nuclear weapons” today in the Czech capital Prague, so, maybe… maybe, there is hope for change in the US vision of the war and its atrocities.

    Speaking of anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs, ‘Handicap International’ (non-governmental, non-religious, non-political and non-profit making) organisation is doing a great job to help people with disabilities and has been calling for a ban on cluster munitions.

    Here in France, they sent an open letter to President Obama to congratulate him on his election, express their enthusiasm and high hopes for better humanitarian politics and ask him to sign the Ottawa and Oslo Treaties. Here is the link. (Sorry, it’s in French.)

    And also the link to sign the petition. It’s in English. 😉

    Thanks to FEd for this interesting and very informative post.

    Michèle

    1. thanks for the link to the petition. i hope obama will heed the call.

      the usa didn’t even attend the dublin conference on cluster munitions in may last year.

    2. I signed the petition, thank you Michèle.

      About Obama and nuclear weapons, I also think that maybe… maybe there is a hope, as you said. 🙂

  7. Sorry if I’m off topic, FEd.

    The week started in a very bad way in my country. Maybe you’ve heard about it.

    A strong earthquake hit L’Aquila, a city in the centre of Italy, during the night. Many buildings collapsed and it seems there are at least 27 people killed, lots of injured and many who’ve lost their home.

    It’s a tragedy.

    I hope that all the Italian people who write here were far from there.

    1. Absolutely.

      It’s so sad to see such a beautiful medieval town in ruins and so many people in disarray. 25 other towns and cities have also been damaged, I hear.

      It makes us all seem very insignificant when you see what destruction the Earth is capable of unleashing in just 30 seconds.

    2. I was thinking the same this morning.

      I felt the earthquake some times in my life and I can perfectly remember the bad feeling I had.

      There is nothing more unnatural than feeling the Earth moving under you feet. It’s really an archaic fear, I couldn’t find a better way to explain it.

      In the meantime the number of the victims is raising. Now, it seems they are more than 50.

      There are also some controversies. It seems that a scientist had predicted this strong earthquake some days ago, observing the level of a gas, but he was accused of promoting fear without a real reason and his theory was refused by the scientific community.

    3. It sometimes sounds as if Mother Earth was taking revenge on us for mistreating, destroying all the gifts she gave us…

    4. I agree with you.

      We should never ignore the signs our Mother Earth gives us, but it seems we really don’t want to see.

      I also think that the scientific community should learn to listen who’s trying to give a warning about a disaster, even if he has a different point of view or a different method.

      I listened to many interviews today and also many locals said they were sure that something was going to happen, because the signs were all there.

    5. It sometimes sounds as if Mother Earth was taking revenge on us for mistreating, destroying all the gifts she gave us…

      Have you noticed in recent years the amount of beached whales? During an OOBE once, when I was travelling through an Octupuses Garden, I asked a nearby whale why it was happening.

      She said that they are trying to speed up their evolution and gain legs and feet so that they will be able to walk into our towns and cities in order to kick our Asses for the amount of noise pollution our boats and submarines cause in their domain. A (almost) True Story.

    6. If it’s so, I hope they’ll have their big legs and feet very soon. :))

    7. Thanks for the Birthday wishes, although actually the real me was never born. 😛

  8. Just this past weekend I was visiting a very well-respected technological college in the U.S. During one of the presentation they highlighted what some of the students were working on. One group of students was actually working on developing a new detection device that could sniff out landmines.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    1. That’s very interesting. I wonder what they have in mind.

      Apparently, landmine manufacturers these days deliberately use only the smallest amounts of metal in their devices to make them hard to find with conventional metal detectors.

    2. That’s exactly why I used the word sniff out. Apparently the device they are making is using the principle of the smells/aroma within the device or that the device would emit. The team is comprised of engineers and chemists.

      Isn’t it great to see young minds at work??

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    3. O, and further to any skeptics who think that you can’t sniff out these things, I have read that dogs have been used in locating landmines for removal. Makes a lot of sense since dogs are also used in searching for explosives in luggage at airports as well.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

    4. It is very good to hear of new ideas, but I can’t say I like the idea of dogs sniffing around landmines.

    5. For the sake of clarity, the students were not putting together something using dogs, they are putting together some type of sniffer device – a mechanical sniffer if you will.

      The dog reference I made is only to point out that dogs do have a hightened sense of smell and can smell things that humans cannot.

      Also, note that landmines are sensitive to weight and it is actually more likely that the handler of the dog would be more likely to set off a landmine than the dog itself.

      In fact, some landmines are actually made to be detonated only when significant weight is applied, like a tank. So people could walk across the mine field and not trigger anything but roll a vehicle over the same field and pow.

      Finally, from further reading on the topic, many modern land mines are being developed with a feature that disables them after a period of time.

      Mind you, I don’t share all this stuff because I am in favor of landmines or think they are a good thing. I think it is good to be well informed.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  9. Hello FEd and mates,

    I’m sorry to be off topic… I know it’s a sad and terrible SUBHUMAN matter.

    A kiss and a Happy Easter. I’m leaving to Aquila for the earthquake of last night… it’s a part of my job.

    A hug
    diana

  10. That video is creepy and really makes you think.

    I remember Princess Diana’s work to ban landmines and those photos of her with the children of Angola will stay in my mind always.

    1. Diana was an amazing woman. I feel that more landmines would have been cleared by now had she survived.

      I’ll never forgot the images of her walking through a minefield. She managed to look beautiful wearing a flak jacket!

  11. This is an important issue.

    If America, China and Russia want to use landmines in future (why else would they stockpile them?), they should be made to clear them up when their war is over.

    German troops cleared approximately 65,000 landmines in the Channel Islands when the Second World War ended.

    Landmines are only used in the first place to halt the movement of enemy forces. They are defensive weapons. There is no military need for them when hostilities cease.

    If they don’t clear them, their governments should pay large sums in compensation each time one is activated. That would make them think again about the use of landmines.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the new documentary.

    1. Interesting idea. If we were accidentally triggering these horrific, indiscriminate explosions in the west, unable to make the most of our land, I’m sure that we’d be looking for compensation. I can just see those irritating claims lawyers now: “Have you had an accident with a landmine that wasn’t your fault in the last three years?”

      I believe (but don’t quote me on the figure) that some 100 million had been cleared from European soil by 1950, which says an awful lot about our priorities, doesn’t it?

    2. what i don’t understand is why the usa needs so many defensive weapons when it has the bomb.

      russia and china having them i can understand, but since when was america ever under attack (other than pearl harbor and 9/11)? there has never been any fighting on american soil and there have never been any landmines in american soil.

      maybe that’s why americans have always been so quick to plant them in vietnam, korea, kosovo, etc.: because they don’t know what it’s like to step on one or to live with the threat of them exploding day by day.

      the usa is offensive in war, not defensive and doesn’t need landmines or cluster bombs.

    3. because they don’t know what it’s like to step on one

      In fairness, about 13% of US casualties during the 1991 Gulf war were killed or injured by landmines, cluster bombs and such like… although it should be said that the same devices continue to kill or maim up to 30 Iraqis each month.

      Apparently, 117,634 landmines, 27,967 anti-personnel mines and 89,667 anti-vehicle mines were planted by the US in Iraq and Kuwait during that conflict.

      Yet according to a 2002 General Accounting Office report, “the services reported no evidence of enemy casualties, either killed or injured; enemy equipment losses, either destroyed or damaged; or enemy manoeuvre limitations result, directly or indirectly, from its employment of surface-laid scatterable [landmines].”

      I’m not sure I believe that.

    4. To be fair, landmines are not a new invention or idea. There were landmines and landmine-type devices used in the U.S. during both the American Revolution as well as the Civil War. So is it possible that one of these ancient devices is still buried somewhere within the U.S.? It certainly is possible and it certainly may still activate if stepped on. Unlikely but possible.

      Then you may also ask yourself why the British decided to develop a nuclear landmine back in the 1950s. Take a search on the topic British Blue Peacock Project. Granted the U.S. did develop a similar item but several years later.

      Finally, how about this story about landmines? During the Falklands War a mine field was laid by the sea. The area where they laid them happen to become a favorite place for penguins. However penguins are too light to detonate the mines. So it became a safe place for penguins to breed and prevented humans from entering the habitat. Interesting but a shame at the same time that it is something like this that forces the issue of preserving wildlife.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

  12. I know it’s a shocking thing to say but land mines. Are they not another form of weapon designed to kill humans?

    Don’t get me wrong I abhor war and the brutality of it whether it be a brick, knife, burning tyre, wooden club, knife, bullet, bomb or nuclear weapon. If it was the latter there wouldn’t be anyone left to tread on a land mine. Think about it.

    If there is any hope on the horizon it’s a small comfort, if that’s what you call it, that today’s weapon designers are working on time lapse and remote detonation mines that do their thing, when and when the designer (Mr Nasty) thinks right.

    Most innocents killed by land mines live in third world countries, both sad and true. Not forgetting the GENOCIDE committed during the Balkan wars fought not many hundred miles from most of us Bloggers. Is the value of life in third world countries the same as ours? Whether it be, who has the best sacred book of rules or the best grazing land or oil? Not many hundred years ago men were clubbing and stabbing others to death on the fields of battle in the UK, queuing to watch the public execution of children for stealing sheep, burning people alive for various things and worse. The clock has been ticking a while now and only the sands of time will slow it.

    Difficult subject, but if Mr Nasty was going to have a go at me or my family I would use anything to stop him. There are no rules in war. If there were they’d be broken at the first sign of defeat.

    Ban war not mines.

    It would never catch on though.

  13. I was just imagining someone who has a nine to five job at the factory where they make land mines, enjoying a dinner party and someone asking them what they do for a living. Oh, I make landmines that blow people to bits. Bit of a party pooper. 8|

    Damian.

  14. Arthur C. Clarke wrote a book once about a new invention to get rid of landmines called “The Trigger”. If only fiction could become reality…

Comments are closed.