Profiteering in Violence Against Women and Children.

UNICEF’s 1996 State of the World’s Children report deplores the many forms of violence against children, especially the violence of poverty and of war. It states that “Wars and civil conflicts are taking a massive toll of children approximately 2 million children have been killed during the last decade, and between 4 million and five million disabled. Twelve million more have been uprooted from their homes, and countless others face the risk of disease and malnutrition and separation from their families.”

Among other crucial measures, UNICEF calls for an international ban on the manufacture, sale, and use of landmines. Since 1975 landmines have maimed or killed more than a million people, and the majority have been civilian women and children. And the devastation continues. According to UNICEF, “In 64 countries around the world, there are an estimated 110 million landmines still lodged in the ground-waiting. They remain active for decades.”

UNICEF, health rights activists, and a few daring congress-persons have requested the US government to ban landmines. The response of the White House-in an election year-has been anything but heartening. In considering the ban, President Clinton, like most of his colleagues in both major parties, puts powerful lobbies and bargaining for votes before the health and lives of those who can not or do not vote (children, aliens, the disaffected majority). He is therefore in the process of negotiating a weak agreement: a ban that is a non-ban. In essence, he says, the US will ban anti-personnel landmines except when it finds it useful or necessary to use them!

No one claims that anti-personnel landmines are essential or even important to US military operations. But the weapons industry has a powerful lobby. So does the Pentagon. And as every presidential and congressional candidate knows, you can’t win an election without selling your soul to the company store… at least not as long as voters (and potential voters) remain socio-politically anesthetized. It is time that we wake up and act!

What You Can Do to Stop Landmines

  • Do not tolerate the proposed wishy-washy US government agreement on landmines. It places the interests of the arms industry (and its powerful lobby) before the safety and rights of children.

  • Write or fax a protest letter to your congress-persons and to the President. Express your outrage and demand a total ban on anti-personnel landmines. Over 30 nations now enforce such a ban. But many key nations, including England and France do not. Yet if the US approves a total ban, England, France, and other nations will probably follow suit.

  • Educate: Make family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors aware of this brutal issue. Encourage them to protest the deadly proposed US policy on landmines.

  • Write informative letters to the editor of your local news paper. Try to create awareness launching protest through radio and TV talk-shows, etc.

  • Vote only for candidates that support a total ban on landmines-and let your reasons be known.

Hundreds of thousands of children and non-combatant adults will continue to have their limbs blown off, only to make arms producers richerunless we take prompt action.