Monday, February 20, 2017

Why People Want a Pacific (and World) Free of Nuclear Weapons

In the US, if we think at all about our use of nuclear weapons, we think of Hiroshima (and perhaps Nagasaki).

But we should also remember the way we (and others) have subjected people in South Pacific nations to nuclear danger by tests of more and more enormous atomic and hydrogen bombs over the course of decades.

Laurence Hyde: woodcut print from the novel Southern Cross,
a book about atomic testing in the Pacific.

I, myself, got a wake-up call when participating in a commemoration of Hiroshima in Chicago in 2012 and finding the image above, depicting atomic testing in the Pacific.

My eyes were opened further by the film Lucky Dragon No. 5, by Kaneto Shindo. It tells the story of fishermen exposed to nuclear fallout from the (in)famous Castle Bravo nuclear test at Bikini on March 1, 1954.

Castle Bravo h-bomb test at Bikini Atoll, March 1, 1954.

Then, in 2014, a lawsuit was brought to get justice for people in the Marshall Islands.

In 2015, I was at a conference in Hiroshima and obtained a much more comprehensive sense of what US atomic testing in the Pacific was about. (See MARSHALL ISLANDS HIBAKUSHA: Can social media trump empire and entertainment? and the Wikipedia article on the so-called "Pacific Proving Grounds.")

Last year, I was listening to a hymn in church, and it led me to learn more about the leading role of New Zealand in working for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

New Zealand's representative for Foreign Affairs and Trade says,
"We will certainly be active participants in the negotiations
beginning at the UN in New York this coming March.
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NOW . . . Fiji, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, and Tuvalu have been among the co-sponsors of the UN resolution L.41, the passage of which set the stage for negotiations in 2017 on a global ban on nuclear weapons.

2017 is the year in which these countries and others will bring about a global ban on nuclear weapons.

For people in the US, this is a moment to understand the problem of nuclear weapons through the eyes of others -- particularly people who have lived under the shadow of US nuclear weapons. We need to urge our government to stop obstructing the nuclear weapons ban negotiations, and instead give their full support to this effort. Go to to find out how.

Working for a Nuclear-Free and Independent PACIFIC
(Image via @DimityHawkins)


Who would possibly vote "NO" to banning nuclear weapons???

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