05 November 2012

This week we hear from Sulaiman Aminy, the fourth of our campaigners interviewed as part of ICBL’s 20th Anniversary celebrations. Sulaiman is Executive Director of ‘Afghan Landmine Survivors' Organization (ALSO) and also the victim assistance focal point for ICBL-CMC. He tells us of his work in a country affected by landmines and cluster munitions, and his hopes for Afghanistan to play a bigger role within the region, promoting the Mine Ban Treaty and Cluster Munition Convention."I would like to see victim assistance and support for persons with disabilities (PWDs) to be made a priority in all sectors (government, INGOs, NGO, CSOs and families) in my country. More facilities and opportunities should be provided for survivors, to help them build their capacity and rebuild their lives." Sulaiman Aminy

Why and how did you get involved with the ICBL?I come from an affected country where 1000s of mines and cluster munitions have been used by different parties during the past three decades of civil war. As an Afghan and someone who sees the devastating impact caused by landmines, and I was really keen when I started working in my country that I should be involved with a group to do advocacy and to campaign to ban such weapons and to help stop the suffering they cause. I started working in the field of disabilities in early 2005 and my first involvement was with Handicap International (HI) in Afghanistan.I successfully established a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) to do direct advocacy on the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), as well for victim assistance (VA) in general. Since 2007, I have been working directly for this local NGO, ‘Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization’ (ALSO), and I joined HI’s Ban Advocates on behalf of 100s survivors and persons with disabilities. I learnt a lot about how to do advocacy and campaign work nationally and internationally, and step by step I improved my capacity and knowledge. I was very interested in joining the ICBL team and I became the victim assistance focal point and the researcher for ICBL in Afghanistan. Last year ALSO became a Governance Board member of the ICBL-CMC, and as the Executive Director I represent my organization on the Governance Board. I am very proud to be involved and work with such a global and exciting team and I continue to expand my learning. I am now really keen to work at the regional level to support my campaigner friends in advocacy on the MBT, the CCM and VA.Do you have a favorite or most memorable moment from your time working with the ICBL?Yes, many moments. On 3rd December 2008, after a long time of us saying that Afghanistan should join the CCM, it happened. I was one of the witnesses when my country signed the CCM in Oslo. It was a big moment, and I will never forget it. At the time my country was under pressure from other countries, but Afghanistan took the decision to sign at the last minute. The final decision was taken by the president during the conference. We sought out the Ambassador of Afghanistan during the conference and encouraged him to call the president directly. He called and then the president said ok, and if there are Afghan people that are pushing you to sign, then we should sign. It was at 2 o’clock that Afghanistan gave their speech, and a lot of people in the hall were stunned and then they clapped. It was at 6 o’clock that Afghanistan signed, and I was a witness. A very big day! One of my friends Soraj, who was a cluster munition survivor who lost both legs, was with me and we were very emotional.Other proud moments include when I became the national VA focal point and researcher for ICBL in Afghanistan, and when I became an ICBL-CMC Governance Board member. I feel very comfortable working with the ICBL-CMC staff team and in learning and expanding my knowledge, which will be useful in my career and work against landmines and cluster munitions.What changes have you seen in your country? What impact has your campaign had?I have seen many changes in myself and in my country. Through becoming active and gaining experience in advocacy, campaigning, and research, and with the strong support of my colleagues and friends, I successfully helped bring my country on board to sign and ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as well to attend actively in each Meeting of States Parties.We are now working on a National Legislation for implementation of both the Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has the intention to do something about the clearance. We don’t have any stockpiles, but clearance is important because Afghanistan is an affected country and there are many more contaminated areas that need to be cleared, as well as victims to be assisted. We have the attention of the government, who provide facilities for the empowerment and the inclusion of victims and persons with disabilities in different areas in Afghanistan, but more can be done.As a campaigner I have a lot of support from the community, from the people and from the survivors that we should not allow for landmines or cluster munitions to be used again in Afghanistan.What would you like to see happening in your country in the next 5, 10 years? What do you want to call on your government to do?We will keep up the day-to-day advocacy and not let anyone use again landmines or cluster munitions again in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and we will do advocacy and campaign for Afghanistan to join the CPRD.I would like to see the contaminated areas cleared and that no-one uses, sells, transfers or stockpiles any landmines or cluster munitions in my country. I would like to see victim assistance and support for persons with disabilities (PWDs) to be made a priority in all sectors (government, INGOs, NGO, CSOs and families) in my country. More facilities and opportunities should be provided for survivors, to help them build their capacity and rebuild their lives. Also, to raise level at the national level in different parts of Afghanistan to bring positive changes about, including changes in attitude. Still there are gaps and many people don’t know how to behave with persons with disabilities, and some families are still embarrassed when they have children with disabilities. This is something we will focus on, and we will campaign to to provide more opportunities, so people have skills to do something to continue their lives.My country can be an example at the regional level and could encourage other neighbouring countries to join the MBT and CCM, as well as the CRPD without any delay. I would like to see more states join the MBT, CCM and CRPD and support victims and persons with disabilities, and for each state who joins these conventions to have strong and comprehensive legislation.