Diana and the Landmines

I was sick and you visited me

Photo Courtesy : http://www.royal.gov.uk/List%20Images/List%20images%202/PSSOW/EMP-4483534.jpg

A year ago Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris.

Our readers know that MISYON has been carrying the campaign against anti-personnel mines for a long time now. So we were delighted when Diana, Princess of Wales, took up the campaign. It gave a very high profile image to the anti-mine work and highlighted the horror of 26,000 casualties a year. These casualties are mostly children, women and farmers. The Holy Father himself has singled out these weapons as been particularly inhuman when he said, “I should once again like to make a vigorous appeal for the definitive cessation of the manufacture and use of these arms called anti-personnel mines. In many countries of the world they compromise the return of peace over long periods of time because they have been placed either on the roads or in the fields with the intention of causing indiscriminate harm to a maximum number of people. In fact they continue to kill and cause irreparable damage well after the end of hostilities, giving rise to severe mutilation in adults and above all in children."

Fr. Efren and the Landmines

Diana added the landmine campaigns to her many other charities: drug addiction, the homeless, AIDS patients. In her anti-landmine campaigns she went to Angola where Filipino missionaries and our Misyon correspondent, Fr. Efren de Guzman, has so often reported to us [Angola Diary] the terrible maimings and killing caused by the landmines. In Angola Diana actually joined a de-mining squad and she herself blew up a mine. All precautions were taken but what she did was not without risk.
Jesus said ‘suffer the little children to come to me’ –but right before our eyes we see thousands of little children being maimed for life by these landmines every year. Diana did her little bit to save these children.

Near the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 25), Matthew answers the question: “When all is said and done, what is the most important thing for a Christian? In answer, he draws a great panoramic picture of Christ coming in Glory and dividing the whole world into two groups –sheep and goats. The sheep are those who have fed the poor, visited the sick and the prisoners, clothed the naked and surely those who have tried to end the twenty six thousand maimings and killings a year caused by anti-personnel mines.

The Diana Enigma

Princess Diana was no saint but she did all of these things that Matthew mentions and more. Surely St. Matthew had people like her in mind when he described that cosmic scene. One of the key points of the parable is that the people who do these good things may not even be religious persons. “Lord, when did we see you sick and visit you?” As long as you did it to one of the least of my brothers you did it to me. Come you blessed of my father and posses the Kingdomw prepared for you since the beginning of time.”

Fr. Brian Gore and the Landmines

The Australian Catholic Bishops sent Fr. Brian Gore to an international conference on landmines in Cambodia, one of the worst hit places.

Fr. Brian Gore, a Columban, said Australians sold work much harder at changing the Federal government’s mind on efforts to ban the production and distribution of landmines.

“Landmines are insidious in the way they kill people indiscriminately –and yet our Government continues to argue that they are a valid part of an army’s weaponry,” Fr. Gore said on his return from the conference in Cambodia.

“In Cambodia I visited an 18 hectare site which alone will take nine months to clear of landmines. It is very painstakingly and dangerous work,” Fr. Gore said.

“But as one area is being cleared, more landmines are being put down elsewhere. Both the Government troops and the Khmer Rouge are still using landmines.

In fact, people are now talking about a “landmine culture” developing in Cambodia. Criminals are using them now and they are even being used in disputes over land.”

“So much energy in Cambodia is being put into landmines –paying for them, laying them, digging them up, burying the dead and trying to patch up those who are maimed. I visited a factory which is turning out wheelchairs as fast as it can –but it can’t keep up with the demand.”

“Landmines are the single biggest obstacle to development in Cambodia –and the problem is even worse in some other countries.

Aid agencies and church groups in Australia are planning a campaign to pressure Canberra to change its mind, including a Day-of-Action in August.”

The countries which have not banned landmines are China, India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, (Russia) and USA.

The Philippines is one of those countries which have banned landmines.

It is possible that Diana did more than anyone elsoe towards banishing mines, ad Mother Teresa more than anyone else towards relieving staration, simply by giving the world images whose power was overwhelming and irresistible.