Norway supports mine survivors’ bicycle rally to ban landmines

Thirty-four mine survivors from Thai-Cambodian provinces and the War Veterans Organization joined a 140-kilometre, Bangkok-Lopburi bicycle rally on April 22-24, which is sponsored by the Norwegian government among other Thai public and private agencies.      The Thai survivors, together with cyclists and organizing team members from Thailand Campaign to Ban Landmines (TCBL), started the journey from the Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) in Bangkok on April 22. The starting ceremony was presided over by TMAC Director, General Kitti Suksomsatan, who also joined the cyclists in a 20-km ride to the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center.      These landmine survivors travelled from their hometowns of Ubon Ratchathani, Sisaket, Surin, Buriram, Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi, etc to Bangkok a day earlier in order to familiarize themselves with fellow survivors, the organizing team, and the bicycles.      Along the 140 km route, through the range between 25-40 degree celcius temperature, the participants distributed pamphlets to promote the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, which Thailand is to host in September 2003.      The ride was tiring but enjoyable. All the cyclists arrived at the finish line at the Military Artillery Center in Lopburi safe and sound on April 24. They were warmly welcomed by Ms. Atchara Suyanan, the Director-General of the Department of the International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with guests from the Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok and various other embassies, international and local organizations.      The landmine survivors also witnessed the final stockpile destruction event and congratulated the Thai government in meeting the obligation under the Ottawa Convention to eliminate all stockpiles by April 2003.

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