Testimony on Land Mines (2/17/1998)

Friends Worship Group of Howard County
(Under the care of Sandy Spring Friends Monthly Meeting)

Mt. Hebron House, 2331 Mt. Hebron Drive, Ellicott City, MD
Clerk: Susan Rose • 5455 Wingborne Court • Columbia MD 21045
410 730-2230 • susan.rose@thebay.net

February 17, 1998

Testimony before the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee
Senate Joint Resolution 3
International Ban on Antipersonnel Land Mines

POSITION: SUPPORT Senate Joint Resolution 3

I thank the Chair and Members of the Committee for this opportunity to testify before you today. My name is Jan Schmidt, and I am co-clerk of the Peace and Social Justice Committee of the Friends Worship Group of Howard County of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers.

From its beginning the Society of Friends has held that preparation for war and the use of its instruments are contrary to the life and spirit of Christ. For 350 years Quakers have given their active support to efforts that substisupport to efforts that substitute cooperation and justice for force.

In this spirit, our Friends Meeting strongly supports international efforts to ban the manufacture, stockpiling, transfer, sale, and use of antipersonnel land mines. We know that antipersonnel landmines kill and maim thousands of men, women and children each year. Many of these land mines were deployed in wars long over and yet today, as we sit here, innocent civilian lives will be destroyed in any or all of the 64 or more nations where unmarked landmines are hidden.

In addition to the death or maiming of innocents, landmines create economic havoc on these developing nations. Farmers cannot safely plant crops, refugees are stranded in unfamiliar places, hospitals are unable to afford adequate care for the victims, and the cost required to clear the landmines add untenable economic burdens on these struggling economies.

For more than 25 years, the United States has been a major manufacturer and exporter of antipersonnel landmines. The United States economy is strong. It does not need to continue the production of antipersonnel land mines to maintain a strong economy. While we produce and export these weapons, we spend millions of taxpayer dollars on removing landmines and providing aid to victims of these terrible weapons in nations around the world.

Where is the United States leadership now? Nations across the world joined hands in Ottawa to take action to negotiate gotiate a ban on the production, exportation and use of antipersonnel land mines and the United States was not and is not now a full participant in this urgent activity. We pray that the United States government will take an active leadership role in the Ottawa Process and, without conditions, will join these other nations to end the manufacture, stockpiling, sale and use of all antipersonnel landmines.

We commend the sponsors of SJR 3 for this resolution and strongly urge a favorable report from the committee.

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