You are on page 1of 2

3233 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Channapha Khamvongsa


Tel: 703-868-0030
channapha@legaciesofwar.org
Website: http://act.legaciesofwar.org

A Peaceful Legacy Campaign


Group Launch Petition Drive Calling on U.S. Government to
Remove Bombs from Laos

San Francisco, April 10, 2009 - On Saturday April 11th, Laotian Americans will
celebrate the First International Lao New Year in San Francisco at the Civic Center.
The event comes more than 35 years after the end of a massive U.S. bombing
campaign in Laos that forced hundreds of thousands to flee their country, many of
whom resettled in the United States (U.S.). As the Laotian Diaspora has come
together to celebrate, they are also making their case before Congress to rectify the
lingering legacies of war left by the U.S. during the Vietnam War-era. Press is invited
to visit the Legacies of War booth at the festival, on April 11 from 10am to 5pm,
where a traveling exhibition on the issue will be featured along with petition
collection.
Laos has the tragic distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the
world. From 1964 to 1973 the U.S. illegally dropped more than two million tons of
ordnance in 580,000 missions over the neutral country of Laos, a country the size of
Utah, in what became known as the “Secret War”. There was a bombing mission, on
average, every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years. U.S. bombs left close to 50
percent of the country contaminated with vast quantities of unexploded ordnance
(UXO), including 78 million unexploded cluster bomblets, millions of which still litter
forests, rice fields, villages, school grounds, roads, and other populated areas.
Accidents involving UXO have caused more than 34,000 civilian casualties since the
end of war, 40 percent of these resulted in death. Close to 60 percent of the victims
are children. Every year for the last decade there have been at least 350 new UXO
casualties, primarily from unexploded cluster bomblets. Half of all cluster munitions
casualties worldwide have occurred in Laos.
PRESS RELEASE - Page 2 –
A Peaceful Legacy Campaign

Today, Legacies of War: History, Healing, Hope (Legacies) is launching A


Peaceful Legacy: A Campaign to Remove Bombs from Laos. This international
petition drive calls on the U.S. Congress and the White House to increase funding to
clear the continuing deadly legacy of that bombing. This increase would expedite UXO
removal on priority lands and provide education on unexploded ordnance and victim
assistance programs that are currently severely underfunded. (To sign the petition, go
to http://act.legaciesofwar.org).
“Laotian Americans want to leave a legacy of peace. It is a moral imperative that the
U.S. government take full responsibility for the bombings that left half of Laos littered
with cluster bombs. The people of Laos have suffered enough abuse from colonial
powers, civil unrests and horrendous tragedies of the bombing,” said Channapha
Khamvongsa, executive director of Legacies. She added, “It’s long overdue, but not
too late for us to end this terrible legacy and help to create a new legacy based on
peace and security. We can all help by signing the petition today.”
Speaking in the Senate on February 11, 2000, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont
commented on, "the insidious.... cluster munitions that fail to explode as designed
and remain as active duds, like landmines, until they are triggered by whoever comes
into contact with them ... in Laos people are still being killed and maimed by U.S.
cluster munitions left from the Vietnam War." He introduced the Cluster Munitions
Civilian Protection Act of 2009 (S. 416), which would prohibit any further use by the
U.S. military of cluster munitions that leave behind deadly minefields. Senator Dianne
Feinstein of California and 22 other Senators are already co-sponsors of S. 416.
The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs, which is comprised of
dozens of faith, human rights, and medical groups and thousands of individuals is
committed to ending any further U.S. use of cluster munitions and to clearing those
that America dropped. “The U.S. spent an average of $2 million a day for nine years
bombing Laos; it has contributed an average of $2.9 million a year over the past 13
years for the removal of UXO and victim assistance in Laos,” said Lora Lumpe,
coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs. “Without
substantial increases in funding, the presence of UXO will remain a threat to the
people of Laos for up to 100 years. This is simply unacceptable. Forty years of death
and injury to innocent civilians is 40 years too many!”

For further information please contact: Channapha Khamvongsa, Legacies of War,


Executive Director, channapha@legaciesofwar.org, 703-868-0030 and visit
www.legaciesofwar.org for more information.

####