"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Abolition: Do it for the Children!

Dear Friends,

This is an exciting and challenging time for abolitionists. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is nearing, and scores of abolitionists from all over the globe are converging on New York to engage in activities calling on the nations' representatives at the NPT RevCon to take serious steps towards abolition. Roughly 2000 of those converging on New York come from Japan, and nearly 100 of those are Hibakusha, survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Most victims of the bombings did not survive, and many of the victims were children. Sadako Sasaki (see photo) was one of those victims. Sadako was only 2 years old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She survived the bombing and led an outwardly healthy life; she was said to be an energetic child who never missed one day of elementary school. She was also a fast runner. Things changed dramatically for Sadako in 1955 when she was diagnosed with Leukemia (a radiation induced disease) shortly after her class won the relay at the school field day.

While in the hospital another girl in the same hospital died of Leukemia, and now Sadako knew she faced the same fate. In August after 1000 paper cranes folded by high school students in Nagoya were delivered to patients in the hospital, Sadako learned of the legend that if a person folds 1000 cranes, one's wish will come true. Sadako decided to fold 1000 cranes with one wish - to get well. Sadako kept folding cranes, each one a prayer for healing, even through the difficult and sometimes painful days. Sadako finally succumbed to the radiation-induced disease on October 25, 1955 at the age of 12. She would never run again.

Sadako's former classmates wanted to do something to remember Sadako, and that wish grew into a desire to build a monument not just for Sadako, but for all the children who died from the atomic bombs. They began planning and fundraising, receiving money and letters from 3000 schools around Japan, and the Children's Peace Monument (with a statue of Sadako) was completed on Children's Day (May 5) 1958. It stands in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The inscription carved in stone carries the hope that no more children will ever be victims of nuclear weapons:

This is our cry.
This is our prayer.
For building peace in the world.

As adults we have a duty to protect children, and so as we gather all around the world in the coming weeks to call for nuclear abolition we call on world leaders to fullfill their moral obligation to protect the children by building a strong foundation for peace and working towards the abolition of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth. And we will not stop until they listen! No more Hiroshimas... No more Nagasakis!

You don't have to travel to New York to participate in actions surrounding the NPT RevCon. There are many events coming up right here in Seattle, Washington including a rally and march on May 2nd, and presentations by a visiting delegation representing the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) on May 5th and 6th. A Hibakusha of Hiroshima will accompany the delegation and give her testimony and an urgent plea to abolish nuclear weapons.

Click here for information on "ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Set The Date Now", a rally and march in Seattle on May 2nd, beginning at 1:30 PM.

Click here for information on "Voices of the Hibakusha" at First United Methodist Church of Seattle, May 5th at 7:30 PM.

Click here for information on "Towards a Nuclear Weapons-Free World", a presentation by the visiting Japanese delegation at University of Washington Tacoma, May 6th at 12:30 PM.



Monday, April 5, 2010

Ratify START: Good Beginning on the way to the NPT Review Conference


In just one month (on May 3rd) the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will convene. Over a grueling 28 days representatives of nations that are parties to the NPT will try to strengthen the NPT and come to agreement on language to clarify and tighten up the treaty's rather loose provisions (such as having no time frames or deadlines for disarmament).

With the Cold War a distant memory and potential new cold wars and proliferation looming it is absolutely critical that this NPT Review Conference not end with the lackluster results of previous conferences. However, there is a momentum building towards this year's meeting.

In just one year since President Obama gave his now famous Prague speech (April 5, 2009) endorsing disarmament - "I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." - his administration has negotiated a new arms treaty with Russia, and is preparing to return to Prague later this week to sign the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

The new START Treaty is not what many of us were hoping for (Hey, we're idealists!) but it is a beginning, and a show of good faith between the U.S. and Russia. As Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists puts it, "the New START Treaty is not so much a nuclear reductions treaty as it is a verification and confidence building treaty."

After the President signs the START Treaty on April 8, it must be approved (ratified) by both the U.S. Senate and Russian Duma. I don't know about the Duma, but I do know that it will require at least 67 senators to approve this treaty. The Senate will need to consider the treaty and begin debate immediately, and ratify the treaty before the NPT Review Conference begins on May 3, 2010! Now is the time for the people to speak for ratification.

Please urge your senators to ratify the new START Treaty. It would be tragic to undo the months of hard work done by the U.S. and Russian negotiators on a treaty of vital importance to the continuing focus (and progress) on disarmament. Click here to send a message (courtesy of Women's Action for New Directions) to your senator. Then tell your family and friends to do the same. Tell them their grandchildren will thank them someday.

Onward to New York and disarmament!



Read an analysis of the START Treaty at the Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog