Every twenty minutes one or more of the presently 100 Million abandoned, and useless landmines claims one or more victims.
The United States is not lifting a (bloody) finger to improve on that horrid situation.
Stronger still, The United States continues to develop, market, sell and deploy land-mines that for the better part will mostly claim innocent civilians as their victims.
Imagine if that same landmine threat would exist here in our states, our counties and our neighborhoods as it does in gigantic stretches of South Central Africa, the Far East and South America.
More after the flip
Imagine 10 year old Michael.
Michael is a nice, cute young kid, full of life and fantasies about
castles, dragons or maybe GI-Joe adventures. He goes off
to play outside like he always does and he meets up with
his buddies. Soon they are chasing each other round the block
and at one point they get to 'the Line'. The Line is at the edge
of where Michael and his friends are supposed to play and
they're not supposed to cross it. The Line is marked with white
sticks with a red dash of paint, or a red piece of ribbon tied
around the tip. The sticks must have stuck in the ground into
the ground a long time ago, since some have become overgrown
and most of the red tips have bleached to a dull brownish smear.
They were never told why they were never supposed to cross
'The Line' and their parents always speak in hushed voices and
nervously look around to see whether anyone is listening when
they talk about 'the Line' and what lies beyond. Something about
'the Troops' and 'the Rebels' but Michael and his buddies have
never seen the troops other than from great distance.
Troops always move in trucks, knows Michael and those trucks
always stay on the highway that loops around town. "They never
stop here anyway so what's the silly fuss about them", Thinks
Michael. As for 'the Rebels', those only exist in old Bogey-man
tales and myhts about what happened a long time ago, like more
than fifteen years ago. Michael has never seen them and frankly
speaking doubts whether they ever really existed. In any case,
they're not here now and he's not going to get scared of Bogey-mans
Michael had brought his new soccer ball with him and soon he and
his friends are running, throwing and kicking it around at the
field along 'The Line'. The local soccer team-captain, Gary makes
a strong and high pass at Fat Larry, who promptly goofs up and
fails to catch it so that it then bounces onward across 'the Line'.
The ball bounces 3 or 4 times and rolls out to come to rest near
a stack of dead branches a hundred feet away and all the kids stop
and hesitate about what's to be done next as they look at Michael.
Of course Michael is pissed off. His brand new ball that his uncle
brought for him from the city, far away, is now lost across 'the Line'
and he's not supposed to go get it, but his impulse is to run after it
and get it back.
For a moment Michael hesitates, but then gives in to what was drilled
into him about not crossing 'the Line', but some of the guys snicker
and goad him on. "C'mon Michael! Are you scared to get your nice
new ball? Are you scared about 'the Line'?" Still, Michael, with
slumping shoulders and with a lump of resigned sadness in his throat
moves away from 'the Line' and is walking back home. Then, Sammy
the always joking and cajoling clown of the neighborhood starts
goading Michael. "Hey Michael, are you too scared to get your ball?
Is little Mickey scaired of the Troopy fighters or is it the Rebby Bogeys?
Little Mickey lost his ball and now he doesn't have any balls at all!"
Sammy continues and is getting the other guys to laugh and sneer
along. Michael is really getting angry. Losing the ball, even when he
can clearly see it sittin there in the bush is one thing, but being made
fun off and ridiculed drives him positively nuts. Certainly when they are
talking about his 'balls'. He's privately very proud of his 'balls' so it hurts
double when people make fun of him about it. At that fateful moment
Michael turns around and heads toward 'the Line' and walks across it.
He carefully walks towards the luring pigskin that lies there gleaming
and teasing in the bush, seemingly mocking him as well.
Michael doesn't really know what to look out for, but he peeks ahead of
him, looking into the treeline and expecting the mythical Troops and
Rebels to show up any moment, riled and rankled by his audacity to
venture into their forbidden land beyong 'the Line', but nothing happened
and eventually Michael reaches his beloved soccer ball.
He picks it up and triumphantly holds and juggles it up to the now
cheering gaggle of kids along 'the Line'.
Bursting now with confidence, Michael struts back and fails to hear the
telltale click when his sneaker presses into the soil.
Michael wakes up. He lies on the ground and is looking at a sneaker that
lies in the dirt, about twenty feet away. The sneaker looks strangely
familiar, but it doesn't really register that it is his own.
Michael notices that he's dizzy and that his ears are ringing, but aside
from that, he hears absolutely nothing, but there's a little blood dripping from his face that seems to come from his ears. Things are smokey and it stinks. It stinks like a horse stable that hasn't been cleaned for a month and his legs hurt. In fact his whole body hurts and even breathing hurts like something burns inside his chest. He tries to move and get up, but that doesn't work and he falls back on his side. He now looks down at his legs and sees the squirting bloody stump with shards of bone sticking out from the shredded flesh under his knee. Michael passes out and the next thing he knows is that someone jabs a needle in his arm and that he's being picked up by strong hands.
Michaels hearing returned a bit a week later, shortly after his ears stopped bleeding and eventually resturned nearly completely over the next couple of months. Those were painful months for Michael, because his hearing might return and his lungs stop aching and his blurred vision became clear again and he had his soccerball back, but his foot and the better part of his left leg under the knee was gone and would never come back. Maybe his dad would be able to get enough money scraped together to get a 'dummy leg' for him, but for the time being, Michael was going to get around with a lot of help and on crudely made crutches.
The police officer that had pulled him out of the minefield and the emergency worker who had given the first aid, returned a couple of weeks later and gave all the boys and girls and a fair number of the adults for that matter, an explanation of what happened. They said that, as unfortunate as things had worked out for Michales leg, Michael had been very lucky to have survived at all.
The Police officer held up a little thing, the shape and size of an old-fashioned inkpot, that Michael used to use in school. It was about 2 inches high and about 3 inches wide at the bottom. "This is a model of the anti-personnel mine that Michael stepped on and it is capable to take off your foot....all the way to your butt." The policeman said bluntly.
"It was found about four feet from the one that Michael stepped on. We found it when we tried to get him out of the field and it was also
two feet from this little beauty."He continued as he took an ugly green and brown streaked ribbed cylinder, about the size of a large cooky can. About 8 Inch wide and 5 Inch high with faded red markings in its side near the bottom.
"This one would have left nothing recognizable of Michael and probably would have wounded a lot of his friends as well." The officer somberly stated as he let his gaze wander around, letting it rest an and every present kid and adult and piercingly looking them in the eyes for a moment. Last, the officer looked at Michael and sternly said "That was a pretty stupid thing you did, and it put all of your friends in grave danger, but you're not the only one who makes those mistakes. ..." He paused, sighed and pulled up his left leg and let the
boot, shined to a deep luster, rest on the chair. He then pulled up the leg of his neatly pressed pants and showed them all the metal and plastic prothesis that he wore. This happened to me seven years ago near my father's farm as I was taking a forbidden shortcut to one of his fields. I thought that the war had been over for so long that the landmines had gone away too. They didn't and I too lost my foot and my lower leg.This will happen again near someone else's farm, or in some stretch of bushland as here across 'the Line'. As long as the landmines are not dug up and removed, these things will happen, so mind the red-white sticks and the skull-and-bones signs, will you? They're there for a very
sad, but very serious and valid reason."
Now Michael could have been called Yaw Amoma, and Gary and Fat Larry could go by similar local names and Sammy, well Sammy may well just be Sammy. Anywhere in the world, boys are boys and kids are kids, so rules get bent and broken in the heat of play and peer-dynamics. All over the world and in all places. But not all places have landmines. Not all places have abandoned and useless, cruelly terrorizing, maiming and killing mine-fields that right now, every twenty minutes creates another victim. A young kid at play, an old geezer and his goat, a mother fetching firewood in the bush to cook for her kids, a farmer trying to eke out a living, a tourist who can't read skull-and-bones signs, an elephant who can't read or understand signs and mine-field markers at all. Some are smart, some are stupid, but all are basically innocent civilians or unwitting livestock and wildlife that are getting hurt and maimed by the unending danger of abandoned minefields for which we too, as a Nation, as the United States, bear responsibility, because some of those mines were: "Proudly made in America".
To this date an unlike most other civilized nations, the United states continues to develop, produce, market, sell and deploy landmines that end up in minefields as described above.
In South Central Africa or in the Far East, or in Central America, or in Columbia and Peru. Anywhere, where the American Military Industrial Complex can find clients who can afford them, or places where the United States Government finds political reasons to support regimes and provide them with these despicable and military useless weapons of terror and mass-destruction.
The time is well overdue to put a stop to that. America must undersign and ratify the 1997 Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty and finally start pulling its weigh helping to clear the existing abandoned fields.
Bring this to the attention of your congress-critter and your US Senator(s) so that we, as a Nation can at least restore some of our moral standing as a nation that way.