Cluster Bombs, landmines and bombhunters
February 24, 2007 12:12 PM   Subscribe

While the world debates the use of cluster bombs due to their impact on civilians in post conflict areas, today is also Landmine Awareness Day in Cambodia. Some ignore the warnings and seek out the landmines to defuse and sell... while others seek a much larger quarry (Youtube)
posted by james_cpi (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Christ, I felt anxious just watching them try to cut that bomb. I googled around, wondering what the possible justifications for the continuing use of cluster bombs could be, and found this record of the UK House of Lords debate on the ban, which presents some information and opinion.
posted by Abiezer at 12:24 PM on February 24, 2007

I was a bit surprised how much the bombs are worth, $39 for 224Kg - a substantial amount of money when the average yearly income of a rural Cambodian is $139.
posted by rotifer at 12:40 PM on February 24, 2007

It is entirely disgusting that this is even a debate.
posted by Malor at 12:49 PM on February 24, 2007

Cluster bombs don't kill people, improper rules of engagement do. Bleh.
posted by carter at 1:04 PM on February 24, 2007

From Abiezer's link:

"Cluster munitions are legitimate weapons when used in accordance with international humanitarian law." -Lord Triesman
posted by jaronson at 1:30 PM on February 24, 2007

You know, of all the countries in the world I would have thought that Cambodia was one of the last to need a special day to remind themselves about land mines.
posted by tkolar at 1:51 PM on February 24, 2007

When I was in Cambodia, visiting Angkor, they would put down land mines on the archaeological sites at night to discourage looters. They would pick them back up in the morning. It was very scary going up a road that has a "Danger-Mines" sign on it, after a security guard said it was okay. He didn't speak any English, and we didn't speak any Khmer, so we were only guessing that he was saying that there were no mines.
posted by Xoc at 5:27 PM on February 24, 2007

That Bombhunter's trailer looks amazing. I will be looking for it.

Anxious indeed.
posted by dozo at 6:39 PM on February 24, 2007

I was in Cambodia a few years ago, visiting a temple just beyond the Thai border, when somebody stepped on a landmine. The area had been the sight of a long battle between the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian army and it was heavily mined -- there were signs all over the place warning people not to step off the pathways into the high grass. I remember looking at that grass and imagining I could sense the evil lurking in there, like there was some kind of living thing hiding, waiting for somebody to take a wrong step. Just as we were leaving, somebody did just that -- wandered into the wrong area and stepped on a mine. We didn't see it explode because we had left the park and had already crossed back into Thailand, but we heard it and saw the smoke and dust from the blast. We couldn't go back to look because they wouldn't let us cross the border again, but I imagined it was one of the local children who were playing in the area, simply because I don't think anybody else would be foolish enough to disobey the signs.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:10 PM on February 24, 2007

Probably not, but there are a few reasons to keep trying.
posted by cenoxo at 8:48 PM on February 24, 2007

Why did you quote me and what is your point?
posted by rotifer at 10:23 PM on February 24, 2007

I've never winced at a video the way I winced when I saw that person straddled on the bomb hacking away with his saw.

I've been to Cambodia, and I've seen the areas marked off as containing land mines, and those marked as having been cleared. I've heard it said that on average they find 2-3 land mines per 100 square meters in areas where they expect to find mines, that's an incredible amount!

I can't remember how long it takes to clear 100 m^2, but from my military experience I know that it is an incredibly slow and arduous task. I can relate to those willing to take the risk for scrap metal... a day or two of hard work for two years worth of money, but at the cost of one's life (and you know there are tragedies unfolding on a regular basis where scar tissue is the least of your worries) it just boggles the mind.

The Ottawa Convention (aka 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer or Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction) was signed into law by president Bill Clinton around 1999 and was considered international law before being revoked by George W. Bush. You guys should be putting some serious pressure on your government to put an end to a man-made invention that nobody really needs nor wants. Really, nobody needs anti-personel landmines. Nobody.

Please speak up. Send a letter. Do something. Please.
posted by furtive at 10:26 PM on February 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Please speak up. Send a letter. Do something. Please.
posted by furtive at 10:26 PM PST on February 24 [+ 1 favorite]
posted by infini at 2:36 PM on February 25, 2007

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