22 February 2017 : A newsletter of the Australian Jesuits

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Balloons of hope


One-hundred-and-six messages filled with hope, dreams and wishes of peace flew over the Cambodian city of Battambang after it was announced that the treaty to ban cluster munitions will come into force later this year.


The messages represented the number of countries that have signed the treaty so far. Written on paper doves suspended from balloons, they were thrown into the air by the more than one hundred people who gathered in the Arrupe Welcome Centre to celebrate with joy that the treaty to ban cluster munitions will enter into force on 1 September 2010.


Together, guests, staff and children of the centre celebrated the passing of the treaty. Most of these staff members and children are people with disabilities; most are victims of landmines. The gathering served as a sign of solidarity to those countries that continue to suffer the horror of cluster munitions. Though their sufferings are not altogether the same, these countries share the sufferings of war, much like Cambodia.


The celebration opened with a song written by the children of the Arrupe Centre. One of the students present was Channeng, the young man who represented the Arrupe Centre in the Second Revision Conference of the Treaty to Ban Cluster Bombs in Cartegena, Colombia last November. Channeng, who lost both legs and one arm to a landmine, wrote a song that invited all of us to join together in peace and to destroy cluster bombs.


After this song, another student from the centre, Dieng, who suffers from polio in one leg, gave a speech from the heart about all those who suffered due to the many consequences of war. She spoke about not only feeling happy because of the entrance of the treaty, but also thanked all the countries and people that 'made it happen'.


Dieng also appealed to the countries that still have not signed the treaty, especially to her own country Cambodia, to do so as soon as possible. She invited all the countries to join the meeting that would take place in November this year in Laos, nowadays also a country much affected by cruel weapons of war.


The gathering culminated with a dance for peace. Between laughs, hopes, and songs, support and solidarity for the rapid progress of the treaty radiated from everyone. The treaty now has 106 signatures and 30 ratifications from the first meeting in Oslo only 15 months ago. The rapid progress of this treaty shows us the repulsion of the world to the use of these inhumane weapons, which kill and maim countless innocent people every day. With the signing of this treaty, we are given hope that one day cluster bombs will be forever absent in our world.


From our little corner in Cambodia, we will continue to hope and work for the day that war will be a thing of the past and that the future will only have place for peace.


By Maria Cruz Conde


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michael zino


Well done niece! I wish I were 40 years younger to be able to join you in your good works.We need to work not only on the victims of political decisions but on the heartless politicians themselves who get away with murder and seem to be above the law.Things must change. Fight on, besitos from you Huncle !

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