Tun Channareth – or Reth as he is known to his friends – is one of the campaign's greatest assets. He is a passionate advocate for a ban on the weapon that cost him his legs.
Born in Phnom Penh, Reth and his family were forced to leave by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. In 1982, as a resistance soldier on a mission near the Thai-Cambodian border, Reth stepped on a landmine, which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs. He received vocational training at a Thai refugee camp, where he stayed for many years.
In 1993 he moved back home to Cambodia, where he started making wheelchairs as a way to help landmine survivors and support himself and his family.
He also got active in the mine ban movement: "I became thirsty for knowledge of the outside world, I wanted to stay alive long enough to see it, and finally contribute something of myself to it."
He joined up with three other disabled veterans from other sides in the conflict to push for a ban on the landmines. They collected over 1,000,000 signatures from Cambodian supporters. This led to the launch of the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines, a prominent member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Reth has since travelled the world with his message. He has:
- addressed Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and a crowd of thousands at the launch of the Landmine Monitor Report 2004;
- taken the ban message to the Pope, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and countless diplomats;
- visited countries in the Asia Pacific region that have not yet joined the treaty, urging them to do so urgently;
- met representatives of China, Russia and the USA demanding they stop production and pointing out that a Russian-made landmine caused his injury;
- addressed annual Meetings of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty since 1999 and the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in 1998; and
- accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the ICBL in December 1997.
As one of the ICBL's Ambassadors, Reth travels the world urging governments to make landmines history. He is a role model for other landmine survivors and an inspiration to all.
"Finding ways to earn a living is still the number one priority for survivors in mine-affected communities," says Reth.
Reth lives in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with his wife and children. He still visits wheelchair users every day and oversees various income-generation projects for the disabled. He is a member of Jesuit Service Cambodia.