November 30, 1997 in Nation/World

Kids Urge Clinton To Ban Mines

Vanessa Williams Washington Post

A group of Washington area schoolchildren bundled up 20,000 postcards from children in Afghanistan, whose crayon drawings depicted the horrors of land mines, and delivered them to the White House Saturday hoping to persuade President Clinton to sign an international treaty this week banning the explosive devices.

“Sign the land mine treaty!” a group of about 80 youngsters from the Afghan Academy, a cultural education program in Annandale, Va., chanted as they marched to the White House and then to the nearby New Executive Office Building to drop off bags of the postcards.

The drawings on the postcards were done by schoolchildren from the Afghan capital of Kabul, said Gail Snetro, of the Save the Children organization, which also is a member of the U.S. Steering Committee to Ban Landmines.

One postcard featured a girl, with green eyes and clad in a red dress, standing on one leg, leaning on a wooden cane.

Clinton spent the holiday weekend at Camp David and did not see or hear the young demonstrators.

Clinton has refused to sign the Ottowa Treaty, arguing that to do so could leave U.S. troops exposed during war. Opponents of land mines say the devices left behind after a conflict maim and kill 25,000 civilians each year. Afghanistan, along with Angola and Cambodia, is riddled with land mines left over from past wars.

Lindsey Rahim, 10, said that because Clinton has a child, she thought he would be more sensitive to the suffering of other children.

“These kids are just going outside and playing or doing chores for their mother, and they end up paralyzed or lose an arm or leg,” Lindsey said.

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