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Ta Douangchom Stanislas Fradelizi

Ta Douangchom Stanislas Fradelizi

Using postcards to ban cluster bombs

Cathryn Clinton
April 16, 2009

AKRON, Pa. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. is using a postcard campaign to support the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, legislation that would restrict the use of cluster bombs by the United States.

An international treaty banning the production, transfer, stockpiling and use of cluster bombs was signed by 94 countries in December 2008, but the U.S. did not agree to the ban of this weapon. However, in March 2009, Congress passed a law that prohibits the export of cluster bombs from the U.S., except under very restricted circumstances.

The new bill goes farther than the previous law as it prohibits the indiscriminate use of these bombs by the U.S.  In order to support its passage, MCC U.S. has printed free postcards that individuals can obtain from MCC to send to their senators' offices. The postcard features Mr. Ta Douangchom, a cluster bomb survivor.

According to Titus Peachey, director of peace education for MCC U.S., the U.S. has been the principal producer and user of cluster bombs for nearly five decades. Peachey began raising awareness about the use of these bombs in the early 1980s while he was an MCC worker in Laos, and in 1994, MCC worked together with the Lao government and the Mines Advisory Group to begin a bomb removal project.

Cluster bombs are aerial weapons that release up to several hundred bomblets, or "bombies," over a wide area. In many cases they fail to explode on impact and are accidentally detonated by civilians years later. Douangchom, a farmer from central Laos,  survived one of these accidental explosions, but he lost both arms and his right eye.

Douangchom, part of a group called Ban Advocates, attended and spoke at the treaty convention in December. Peachey, who had served with MCC in Laos, met Douangchom at the convention.

Douangchom's picture has been used for advocacy in many publications. When MCC U.S. decided to use a postcard campaign, Peachey contacted him through Handicap International for permission to use the picture. Douangchom said he was happy to have it used in this campaign.

To obtain the postcards, go to the MCC Store at mccstore.org, or phone toll free (888) 563-4676.There is a charge for shipping, but the postcards are free.

To find your senators' addresses, go to http://www.senate.gov

For more information on cluster bombs, including educational resources, go to mcc.org/clusterbombs.