Internationally renowned landmine activist Tun Channareth will travel from Cambodia to the United States to accept an honorary doctoral degree from Seattle University at its graduate commencement ceremony in June. In 1997, Channareth was chosen to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (the ICBL).
A soldier in 1982 resisting the Khmer Rouge regime, Channareth stepped on a landmine near the Thai-Cambodian border and lost both legs. Since then, he has traveled the world as an ambassador of the ICBL urging governments to make landmines history. In 2006, the United Nations declared April 4 as International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. That year alone, between 15,000 and 20,000 people were killed or maimed by landmines, according to a United Nations report. An estimated 20 percent of victims are children.
“Mr. Channareth has reached out with compassion in service to other landmine victims while working tirelessly to rid the world of these insidious weapons,” said Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J. “He is an inspiring example to our students of our mission as a university that empowers leaders for a just and humane world.”
Channareth was nominated for the university honor by professors whose students had worked with him during a recent service-learning tour in Siem Reap, Cambodia. To assist Channareth’s work, the students helped raise $2,000 for landmine, rural education and health projects.
His advocacy continues every day within his own country as he spends much of his time working at the Jesuit Service Center in Siem Reap, building and delivering affordable wheelchairs for landmine victims throughout the country.
“I am excited about this honorary degree,” Channareth said. “The real winners are people around the world who are threatened daily by landmines and cluster bombs. The congratulations should go to Seattle University students, faculty and staff, because they see these global issues and take leadership action.”
Plans are underway for campus and community events during Channareth’s visit with updates to follow. SU’s graduate commencement ceremony is at 3 p.m. on June 12 at KeyArena, Seattle Center.
To learn about the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, please visit http://www.icbl.org/.