Tue, Aug 28, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Vice Minister Yang signs anti-land mine resolution

CLEARING UP The military scattered more than 100,000 mines in 152 minefields on Kinmen and Matsu in the 1950s and there have been 102 mine-related incidents

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Tzu-pao, right, poses yesterday with Tun Channareth, the goodwill ambassador of the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, at an anti-land mine event in Taipei. The two men signed an anti-land mine declaration yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Tzu-pao (楊子葆) and goodwill ambassador of the International Campaign to Ban Land mines (ICBL) Tun Channareth signed a joint anti-land mine declaration yesterday.

The ministry said the declaration says the government will ban the production, use and storage of land mines and participate in aid activities for land-mine victims to demonstrate that the nation was "anti-war and peace-loving."

This is the second time the government has signed the agreement which is sponsored by the Eden Foundation Taiwan, which also acts as the ICBL's local representative.

Before endorsing the statement, Yang said the ICBL's efforts to push the Mine Ban Treaty -- the international agreement that bans anti-personnel land mines -- has proven that "humanistic efforts transcend politics."

A total of 152 countries had signed the treaty as of July 2004, but Taiwan has been unable to endorse the pact because it is not a UN member, the foundation's chief executive officer Huang Cho-sung (黃琢嵩) said.

The government did, however, pass legislation on May 26 last year which stipulates that the government should remove all previously-installed land mines -- most of them laid in Kinmen and Matsu as a defensive measure during the 1950s -- within seven years.

The military scattered more than 100,000 mines in 152 minefields on Kinmen and Matsu after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) fled to Taiwan in 1949. There have been 102 mine-related incidents involving island residents.

Mine clearance in Kinmen began in 1998 in response to residents' requests and in order to facilitate the development of tourism on the island, but the work has not been completed.

Meanwhile, KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), vowed to facilitate land mine removal if he were elected president.

"I will urge the military to clear the land mines. We will not install any new land mines, either, if I am elected president. I hope the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can coexist peacefully instead of having to go to war," Ma said when receiving Channareth at his Taipei campaign office.

Ma said he would publicly support "the spirit of the Mine Ban Treaty" and would seek to officially endorse the treaty if he became president.

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