July 2009 Newsletter – U.S. Funding for UXO Removal in Laos

Posted: Jul 1, 2009

Legacies of War

Legacies of War was created to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos, to provide space for healing the wounds of war and to create greater hope for a future of peace.
Updates & Announcements July 2009
Memory Tree Workshop
in Seattle with Artist Judy Shintani
Betrayal on POV 
An intergenerational group attended the workshop at ArtXchange Gallery in July to reflect and share stories about their memory of Laos and their journey to the U.S., including Chansouk Siboliban (grandmother), Simone Winston (daughter), Addie Winston (grandchild). 



Betrayal on POV
The memory tree is part of “Our Shared Journey,” a series of community art projects to collect stories of war, survival, forgivenss and hope.
Drawings of memories placed on tree

Illustrations and narrative collected from the memory tree workshop in Seattle.


Advocacy Update

U.S. Funding for UXO Removal in Laos
Over the past 15 years, the U.S. has been contributing on average $2.6 million a year for UXO removal in Laos.   In FY 2008 funding was $3 million and in FY 2009 it will be $3.25 million–originally budgeted at $1.9, an additional $1.35 has been allocated. (Source U.S. State Dept.). This funding increase is a positive step towards expediting the removal of cluster bombs in Laos and making land safe for farming and development.
In March 2009, Legacies of War submitted testimony to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee expressing concern over the need for an increase in UXO removal funding  for Laos. We suggested a FY 2010 budget of $6 million.  The House passed the FY 2010 Budget Bill on June 23, 2009, which includes a total of $73 million for the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.  The bill does not break down allocations for individual countries, but leaves it up to the discretion of the State Department.  The $73 million is down from $99.5 million in FY 2009 and $105 million in FY 2008.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is currently considering funding allocations and the budget bill should be passed in the next month.  The two bills will go to conference committee after that. 
International Effort to Ban Cluster Bombs
On July 14, Japan became the 14th country to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Once 16 more countries ratify the Convention, to reach the threshold of 30, the treaty enters into force and becomes a legally binding document for all 102 nations who signed it. Six months after the 30th ratification, countries will gather in Laos for the historic First Meeting of State Parties to the Convention will be held. The U.S. has not signed the Treaty. 


 Betrayal on POV
Above Photo: Members of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs at a meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss efforts to get the U.S. to join the international community in calling for a ban on cluster bombs.



The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs continues to urge the Obama Administration to conduct a review of its policy on landmines and cluster munitions.
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* 260 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War, 210 million more than have been dropped on Iraq.


* More than half of all confirmed cluster munitions casualties in the world have occured in Laos.(Source: Handicap International) 

* Each year there continue to be close to 300 new casualties in Laos. About 40% of accidents result in death, and 60% of the victims are children.


You can do two things today to make a difference:






The Betrayal documentary on PBS starting July 21st 
Betrayal on POV 


Check your local PBS Stations (enter your zip code) for your showtimes or see select listings in major cities, including: San Francisco, Seattle, Twin Cities, Sacramento, Fresno, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta and Dallas.

Filmed over 23 years, The Betrayal is the Academy Award-nominated directorial debut of renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras in a unique collaboration with the film’s subject and co-director, Thavisouk (“Thavi”) Phrasavath. After the U.S. government waged a secret war in Laos during the Vietnam War, Thavi’s father and thousands of other Laotians who had fought alongside American forces were abandoned and left to face imprisonment or execution. Hoping to find safety, Thavi’s family made a harrowing escape to America, where they discovered a different kind of war.


Weaving ancient prophecy with personal testimony and stunning imagery, The Betrayal is a story of survival and the resilient bonds of family. A Diverse Voices Project co-production with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB); funded in part by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). An Official Selection of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

(Source: POV/PBS)

discussion guide and other on-line materials are available to viewers.  




Category: Newsletters