Today I attended a workshop called “Weaponery 101” presented by a former U.S. military/Department of Defense employee who know works for human rights. (He presented the information off the record so I cannot mention his name or give too many details, but suffice it to say that it was very enlightening!). The presentation largely focused on cluster munitions, which, are lots of small bombs contained within a larger one. They are designed to detonate on impact, but if they do not, they can then act like a “landmine” because they are lodged in the ground, can be covered by rocks, mud and other vegetation. I also learned that the same company from China that makes Christmas light fuses also makes the fuses for cluster munitions. No wonder so many don’t work!
The Cluster Munitions Convention is the largest event Laos has ever hosted, so Vientiane is a flurry of activity. In the afternoon, I filmed the parade in front of the Royal Palace, and even found a wat (temple) that has a goldleaf image of the Buddha riding a three-headed elephant after achieving enlightenment, which speaks to the Laotian and Thai fondness for Asian Elephants.
I wrapped up the day by meeting my mentor, Fred Lubang of Nonviolence International. He’s very enthusiastic about The Eyes of Thailand and has offered to help me find Thai and Burmese delegates to speak to me on camera about the elephants stepping on landmines along their borders. We’re also discussing screening opportunities in Southeast Asia for when we release the film in 2011!
All in all, it was a very productive day and I’m still here for a week, so stay tuned.
Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand