Interview: War-left U.S. aerial bombs still pose threats to Cambodian people: academic

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PHNOM PENH, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Half a century on, war-left U.S. aerial bombs are still posing threats to Cambodian people's daily lives, an academic said here on Saturday.

On Thursday, a Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC)'s bomb expert team safely removed an unexploded U.S. made AN-M66 aerial bomb, weighing 2,000 pounds and containing roughly 1,000 pounds of explosives, from the Chaktomuk riverbed near the Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel opposite to the Royal Palace here in the capital.

In April alone, CMAC had found at least five unexploded U.S. Mark 82 (Mk 82) aerial bombs, weighing about 500 pounds each, in Kandal, Svay Rieng, Takeo, and Prey Veng provinces.

Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said Cambodia is still suffering from the United States' unexploded ordnance and landmines, which are the legacy of the U.S.-Vietnam war 50 years ago.

"Every day, somewhere in Cambodia, poor people are becoming the victims of these unexploded ordnance and landmines," he told Xinhua. "Many people have lost their lives and a substantial number of people have been maimed by these unexploded ordnance and landmines."

Most of the victims are farmers, laborers, and children accidentally stepping on these landmines in fields, forests, and abandoned buildings, he said.

According to the book "Hun Sen: Politics and Power in Khmer History for over 40 Years", between 1965 and 1973, the U.S. had dropped some 230,516 bombs on 113,716 sites in Cambodia.

In the book, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen also wrote that the American bombings of Cambodia caused "tens of thousands of civilian casualties because of this vicious undeclared war."

"I strongly believe that the United States is morally responsible for the suffering of these people and ethically and legally bound to adequately compensate the families of those who had lost their lives or were maimed by these unexploded ordnance and landmines," Matthews said.

According to Cambodian government figures, from 1979 to 2021, landmines and unexploded ordnance had killed 19,808 people and injured 45,156 others in the Southeast Asian nation.

Meanwhile, the academic also urged the U.S. to respect the territories of other countries and human lives, and not interfere in other countries' internal affairs under the pretext of democracy and human rights.

"The United States' double standard of peace, democracy, and human rights are not only creating chaos and turmoil in the world but also destroying peace, democracy, and human rights," he said.

"The United States' version of global peace and democracy is based on hypocrisy, deception, and stirring the violence around the world. From the Vietnam War to Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, these actions resulted in nothing but more chaos, instability, and global threat to the peace and security of vulnerable countries," he added.

Matthews said cold war mentality, unilateralism, protectionism, hegemonism, and zero-sum games can only harm others.

"Countries should coexist peacefully, achieve mutual benefit and win-win results," he said. Enditem

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