Landmine legacy

The killing fields still kill
On a recent trip to Southeast Asia, I visited the historic complex of Buddhist and Hindu temples at Angkor, near the city of Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia. The temples are spread out over 40 square miles; on a two-day look-see, one can do scant justice even to the major ones, such as the 12th-century Angkor Wat, generally considered the greatest masterpiece of Khmer architecture.

On my second day at Angkor my attention was diverted by a band that was playing traditional Cambodian music. Drawn by the unfamiliar but pleasing sounds, I got closer and discovered that all of the ensemble’s 12 men and women had been injured by landmines, some having lost more than one limb. And this group is not unique; Cambodia has a number of bands all of whose members are landmine-disabled.

 

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