Speech by Yasumitsu Kida
Japan Assistance Team for Small Arms Management in Cambodia (JSAC)
Weapons Destruction Ceremony in Stueng Saen District, Kampong Thom Province
May 24, 2007
It is a great honor for me to be here today. The Royal Government of Cambodia and JSAC has implemented “Peace Building and Comprehensive Small Arms Management Program in Cambodia” which is funded by the Government of Japan since April 2003. This is the 11th Weapons Destruction Ceremony in Cambodia with the support of JSAC. It is organized through the cooperation among the Royal Government of Cambodia and JSAC. All along, I have seen great involvement and commitment by the Royal Government of Cambodia and Kampong Thom Province to our program. As a result, 2,428 Small Arms are going to be destroyed at the “Flame of Peace” today.
Ladies and Gentlemen, 3,197 Small Arms have been collected in Kampong Thom Province since the Government of Cambodia and JSAC started the Weapons Reduction and Development for Peace (WDP) Project in October 2005. It shows strong involvement and hope of people in Kampong Thom Province toward peace. A large number of weapons have been surrendered voluntarily after educational workshops of JSAC and its NGO partners. More than 55,000 people have attended our workshops in Kampong Thom Province, and learned about Small Arms issues including the dangerousness and illegality of weapons, negative aspects of an unsecure community with weapons, and the positive aspects of a peaceful community without weapons, and surrendered the weapons voluntarily. JSAC has also supported the local police in Kampong Thom Province through conducting training and offering necessary equipment in order to raise their capacity to improve community security. Now, construction of sub-development projects has started.
JSAC conducted its 1st phase program in the northwestern part of Cambodia, namely Otdar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap Provinces, from April 2003 to September 2005. After that, JSAC has been implementing its 2nd phase in Battambang and Kampong Thom Provinces. During these four years, 27,755 Small Arms have been surrendered from people through the WDP Project. The reason why people have voluntarily surrendered weapons is because the WDP Project removes people’s perceived need to protect their own lives with weapons by improving security, builds capacity of and confidence in police, facilitates “Culture of Peace” through repeated educational workshops, and promotes the understanding that weapons do not have any value for usage or exchange for anything.
Adding to that, JSAC has supported the Royal Government of Cambodia to destroy 27,872 weapons including those which will be destroyed today so that they can never be used again. JSAC has also supported the Government of Cambodia to build safer storage warehouses and introduce proper stockpiling systems for police weapons to prevent their leakage to the public, to raise awareness of Small Arms issues in Cambodia by spreading ideas of the “Culture of Peace,” and to support “National Commission for Reform of Weapons, Explosives and Ammunition Management in Cambodia.”
It is JSAC’s hope that you, people living in Kompong Thom Province, will be able to enjoy living in a weaponless environment as those living in the three provinces of our 1st phase. JSAC will continue to assist the provincial authority and police to encourage people to voluntarily surrender their weapons. Only when ALL weapons are surrendered from your community, you, residents in Kompong Thom Province, can enjoy peace in your community.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today, we are going to witness Kampong Thom Province’s effort toward peace through the Flame of Peace, which will burn 2,428 weapons. Out of these weapons, 1,918 weapons were voluntarily surrendered by civilians. Those weapons will never do harm to Kampong Thom Province. The Royal Government of Cambodia and JSAC appreciate this effort. However, I would like to remind you today that this is not the goal. I believe that there still remain weapons in the Province. We need to collect ALL weapons in your Province in order to build actual peace in your community.
Therefore, please submit ALL weapons to the authority. Please let the authority know about any information
of weapons in your community. Such small
efforts will bring peaceful days to you, your children and your grandchildren
in the future. We no longer need
weapons. We say “No” to weapons.
I would like to conclude by congratulating the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Government of Japan, authorities in Kampong Thom Province, and all people
in Kampong Thom Province for their efforts in peace building through reduction
of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
I thank you for your attention and wish you all the best in a peaceful Cambodia where weapons will no longer be an obstacle for sustainable social and economic development.