Launching a campaign to ban landmines in Sri Lanka
Mr. Prasanna Kurrupu, (Adviser, Sri-Lanka Campaign to Ban Landmines) and Mr. Vidya Abhhayagunawardena (Researcher & Landmine-Cluster munitions Monitor) led a discussion launching a campaign to ban landmines in Sri Lanka on 29th September 2015 at the MGC. Everyday civilians are killed or injured in every corner of the globe by landmines lying unexploded on the ground and they pose a threat to a nation’s safety even decades after the end of conflicts. Antipersonnel mines were first used on a wide scale in World War II and, since then, they have been used in many conflicts, including Sri Lanka. Large areas of contaminated land in Sri Lanka have been cleared of landmines for people to return. However, more work has to be done to declare the entire war-affected regions safe for normal life. Because, there are concerns that landmines may have been placed without clear records and, even with proper records, mines may have shifted from the impacts of weather and time. These make operations for clearing mines even harder. Stopping use of any landmine altogether is the only way to prevent the future generations and devote resources required for producing and stockpiling landmines to promote non-violent means of resolving conflicts. Such resources should also be directed to support families and communities that have been deprived of the productive use of their land instead of using it for planting landmines. The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty is a legally binding international agreement that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of antipersonnel mines and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles. Sri Lanka is yet to accede to this treaty. This campaign is to mobilize support for this treaty in Sri Lanka.