August 6th this year was the 77th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima in Japan, killing many thousands of people.
Members of Kingston Peace Council/CND held a silent vigil in the town to mark this, with posters and leaflets given to passers-by.
In the evening a commemoration ceremony was held in Canbury Gardens along-side the river, attended by the Mayor of Kingston-upon-Thames Yogan Yoganathan, and white flowers were cast onto the river in remembrance of the victims, and to dedicate ourselves to continue to strive to ensure "Never Again". The text of Phillip Cooper's speech is below.
Over the last week we've been responding to Israel's renewed assault on Gaza, and reasserting the reality that there is no ceasefire in Palestine.
When Israel says there's a ceasefire in Gaza, it then immediately attacks Nablus and kills more Palestinians. When the world says there's a ceasefire in Palestine - and a return to calm - this means the continuation of Israel's programme of settlement building, home demolitions, arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, and routine killings.
We need our voices to be even louder, and our campaigning even stronger, as Israel continues with the regime of militarised violence necessary to sustain oppression over a people who legitimately choose to resist that oppression.
This week PSC led a demonstration outside Downing Street, and PSC branches also organised local protests and vigils across the country - including in Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign's message to the UK government is clear: End UK complicity in sustaining oppression, and stop arming Israel.
But this message also needs to continue to be delivered to public bodies - like universities and local government pension funds that invest in complicit companies - and we must ramp up our campaigns against those companies themselves.
Palestinian writer and activist Mariam Barghouti wrote:- “Heartbreak - that's the mood of Palestine. Heartbreak and a deep yearning to stop having what little pieces of us survive continually being broken down until there is nothing left but dust.”
But the Palestinian people in their heartbreak as they again bury their children and mourn their brothers and sisters refuse to succumb.
Last week, we watched in horror as Israel launched yet another assault on the Gaza Strip. 47 Palestinians were killed in the latest bombardment, 16 of them children.
Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have been attempting to rebuild their lives following the devastation of May 2021, when Israel’s warplanes rained terror down on densely populated residential areas – killing 260 Palestinians. Now, after a fresh round of bombing, Palestinians need your solidarity and support even more urgently.
PSC has launched a new campaign with War on Want and CAAT, calling on Barclays to stop investing in companies supplying Israel with weapons and military technology - including Elbit systems.
On Saturday September 10th, join campaigners across the world in taking an action at a Puma store or stockist! London: 12pm-2pm, Puma Store on Carnaby Street, W1F 9QE
In less than four years, coordinated action across the world has caused PUMA to lose millions of pounds-worth of lucrative sports contracts, and led to tens of thousands of people of conscience boycotting its products.
Despite this, Puma continues to ignore hundreds of Palestinian sports teams, and maintains its unethical sponsorship of the Israel Football Association, lending legitimacy to Israel’s ongoing dispossession of the Palestinian population.
Until Puma severs its relationship with the IFA, PSC will keep up the pressure, and continue to grow the campaign to make 2022 the year PUMA ends its partnership with Israeli apartheid.
Please look at the PSC website to see other important campaigns and also how to donate to them if you are able: www.palestinecampaign.org
We meet here today to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Both fell on cities, rather than on purely military targets. The two bombs were of different types so that their effects could be studied to determine which was more efficient in creating the maximum amount of death and destruction. Casualty figures from the two bombs are said to have exceeded 200,000 people.
The technology thus created led to an arms race and the realisation of the effect of the bombing raids led to a concept nicknamed MAD, for Mutually Assured Destruction with the nuclear armed powers accepting that starting a nuclear war would result in the obliteration not only of both sides in the conflict but the rest of the world as well.
There is no sane reason to presume that this fact has changed. Especially as today's nuclear weapons are thousands of times more powerful than the two bombs that fell on Japan.
And yet, here we are in 2022, with a significant conflict underway in eastern Europe and with politicians, military people and media mouthpieces raising the threat of the use of nuclear weapons as though it were no more than a logical escalation of what is happening.
Are we so far from the actual events of August 1945 that our political leaders are incapable of grasping how dangerous, how existential, this talk of nuclear warfare is?
President Putin has brandished his nuclear arsenal to warn NATO and the West to stay out of the Ukrainian conflict. This ‘nuclear terrorism’ is a course of action of which both Britain and the US have been guilty in the past against non-nuclear nations. Those who adhere to the concept of nuclear deterrence, of nuclear weapons ‘keeping the peace,’ are now silent. There is talk instead of waging ‘limited nuclear war’. There is loose talk from American and British politicians and NATO spokesmen of ‘weakening Russia’ and humiliating Putin and making sure he can never do this again.
Where now, when we need it most, is the wisdom of a John F Kennedy who, having successfully prevented World War Three during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 reflected that nuclear powers “must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war’’? A maxim that should be taken to heart by whoever is to be the next British Prime Minister, but which we fear won’t be.
And only a few weeks ago a senior British diplomat who is the UK’s national security adviser said that the world was actually safer during the Cold War because countries kept talking to one another and understood one another better than they do today.
Where now is the concerted effort for peace negotiations? There is some movement for such negotiation from countries – France, Italy, Germany – who are geographically closer to the Ukrainian conflict, but more belligerent talk from Britain and the USA who, being farther away, seem to be ignorant of the range and speed of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Just a few hundred miles from Ukraine, across two national borders, is Austria where in June, representatives of the 66 nations who have thus far signed and ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came together to discuss their progress.
Britain of course refuses to take part, along with the other eight countries in the world who have nuclear arsenals. By so doing they are in effect holding the rest of the globe hostage.
Hostage situations can end very badly but others can be and are resolved with patient diplomacy. Let us hope for the latter as we meet here this evening and, in common with peace campaigners across the world, continue to give witness to the result of possessing and using these terrible weapons.
The 77th anniversary of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki was commemorated in London on August 9th, with a procession from Westminster Cathedral - following the memorial service for Franz Jägerstätter - to the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park, led by Buddhist monk the Reverend Gyoro Nagase with several monks and a nun from the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order.
They were accompanied by representatives from several London churches, Pax Christi, Westminster Justice and Peace and other peace campaigners.
Arriving at the Peace Pagoda they were welcomed by Mr Shigeo Kobayashi from Japan Against Nuclear (JAN).
Colourful lanterns on the steps of the pagoda represented souls of the 74,000 people who perished in the bombing in 1945.
The monks led prayers and ceremonies with incense and chanting for all victims in Nagasaki and offered prayers for peace in the world. Father Alan Gadd from the South London Interfaith group offered a Christian prayer. Hannah Kemp-Welch of London CND gave a brief address in which she voiced fears over the increasing tensions in the world where so many countries have nuclear weapons.
Shigeo Kobayashi spoke about the urgent necessity of implementing promises made in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and hopes for the tenth review conference of parties to the treaty which was currently taking place at the UN. He said the danger of a catastrophic accident had never been greater - and pointed out that the bomb on Nagasaki was actually an accident - the original plan was to drop it somewhere else (Kokura). The decision to switch was made due to bad weather there!
Singer Brigette Benett sang Yusuf Islam (Cat Steven's) anthem 'Peace Train’ as the sun set. There were refreshments for those taking part before the evening ended.
The Peace Pagoda was presented to London in 1984 by the Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, founder of the Japanese Buddhist movement, Nipponzan Myohoji.
Rev. Fujii stated that: "Civilisation is not to kill human beings, not to destroy things, nor make war; civilisation is to hold mutual affection and to respect one another."
Following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he pledged to build pagodas worldwide as shrines to peace. Constructed by nuns, monks and other followers of the Nipponzan Myohoji order, the London pagoda was completed in 1985. Altogether, there are now 80 peace pagodas worldwide.
The pagoda features a series of gilt-bronze statues which represent the most significant stages of the Buddha's life; birth, contemplation leading to enlightenment, teaching and death.
Rev. Nagase, who came to London from Japan in 1978 and was involved in the construction, is responsible for caring for the pagoda. He also regularly campaigns for a nuclear-free world.
Members of Kingston Peace Council/CND and other regular readers will remember these vigils which took place regularly for many years before they had to cease during the Covid lock-downs.
Organiser Sara Birch says:-
Thanks to all who have previously supported the call for the closure of Guantánamo and justice for those who are still detained there - including those who have been cleared for release, those who have faced unfair trials and those who are still being held without charge or trial outside the rule of law. There are currently still 36 men in detention, many of whom have been cleared for release.
The Guantánamo Network consists of the following organisations who work closely together to call for the immediate closure of the Guantánamo prison, and justice for those currently (or formerly) detained there:
One of our main aims over the coming weeks and months (in addition to making sure that detainees know they have not been forgotten) is to call on MPs to set up a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Guantánamo.
As part of our campaigning we believe that we must urgently re-instate regular vigils outside Parliament and the US Embassy, so please put the following dates in your diary and commit to joining our protests. Ideally we would like to have a minimum of 36 protestors at each vigil to represent each of the men still detained. Regulars from previous protests please remember to bring your orange jumpsuits, and we have others to lend if you would be happy to wear one.
Volunteers are currently urgently needed for the following vigils:
Wednesdays 7th September, 5th October and 7th December:
1pm – 3pm in Parliament Square
These will be two-hour static protests opposite Parliament holding placards, and photos of those still detained. Also, we will engage with passers-by, handing out leaflets and being a visual presence to passing traffic and those working in Parliament. We will be asking everyone to encourage their MPs to come and talk to us.
On Wednesday 2nd November (just before the US mid-term elections), 1pm – 3pm,
we shall hold the vigil outside the US Embassy and will aim to get as much media coverage as possible for this.
We need your help to be part of this huge protest in support of Julian Assange and a free press. Please sign up to pledge that you’ll be at Parliament to be part of the chain of support that will go from the front of parliament over Westminster bridge, along the south bank of the Thames and back over Lambeth bridge. Please be a link in the solidarity chain. Sign up at https://dontextraditeassange.com/human-chain/
Organised by Richmond & Kingston PSC and KPC/CND with support from Amnesty and other local human rights organisations, we shall be hosting Andrew Feinstein who is an academic, writer, campaigner against South African apartheid and former member of the South African Parliament. Feinstein was elected to the National Assembly of South Africa as a member of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1994 under the Mandela presidency. He is the author of two internationally acclaimed books, “The Shadow World”, behind-the-scenes exposé of the global arms trade that examines the deadly collusion between senior politicians, weapons manufacturers, and arms dealers; and his personal memoir, “After the Party: Corruption, the ANC and South Africa’s Uncertain Future”. He has appeared regularly in a variety of print and broadcast media, including the BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, NPR, The Guardian and The New York Times.
Guardian Report 2nd August (edited)
The United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, has warned that a misunderstanding could spark nuclear destruction, as the United States, Britain and France urged Russia to stop “its dangerous nuclear rhetoric and behaviour”.
At the opening of the delayed nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 10th review conference in New York, Guterres warned that the world faced “a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the cold war”. Citing Russia’s war with Ukraine and tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East, Guterres said he feared that crises “with nuclear undertones” could escalate.
“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation” he said. “We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflict,” he added, calling on nations to “put humanity on a new path towards a world free of nuclear weapons”.
The meeting, held at the UN’s headquarters in New York, has been postponed several times since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Guterres said the conference was “a chance to strengthen” the treaty and “make it fit for the worrying world around us”.
“Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used,” the secretary general said, adding that he would visit Hiroshima for the anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the Japanese city on 6th August 1945.
“Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are now being held in arsenals around the world. All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are growing and guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening,” Guterres added.
In January, the five permanent members of the UN security council – the US, China, Russia, Britain and France – had pledged to prevent the further dissemination of nuclear weapons.
On Monday, the US, Britain and France reaffirmed their commitment in a joint statement, saying a “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.
The three also took aim at Russia – which announced it had placed its nuclear forces on alert shortly after its invasion of Ukraine on 24th February – and urged Moscow to respect its international commitments under the NPT.
“Following Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful war of aggression against Ukraine, we call on Russia to cease its irresponsible and dangerous nuclear rhetoric and behaviour,” they said.
President Vladimir Putin insisted that Russia remained faithful to the treaty’s “letter and spirit” and that there could be “no winners” in a nuclear war, according to the Kremlin.
While many speeches focused on Russia, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, also denounced North Korea, which “continues to expand its unlawful nuclear programme”, and Iran, which “remains on a path of nuclear escalation”. Earlier in a statement Joe Biden called on Russia and China to enter nuclear arms control talks. The US president reiterated that his administration was ready to “expeditiously negotiate” a replacement to New Start, the treaty capping intercontinental nuclear forces in the United States and Russia, which is set to expire in 2026.
The NPT, which the 191 signatories normally review every five years, aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote complete nuclear disarmament and promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
At the last review conference in 2015, the parties were unable to reach agreement on substantive issues. This current review conference (the 10th) is due to conclude on 26th August.
“Since then, the division within the international community has become only greater,” lamented the Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida. “A path to a world without nuclear weapons has become even harder. Nevertheless, giving up is not an option.”
New readers of our Newsletter may be confused by the difference between the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the new UN Treaty for the Prohibiton of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) so a brief clarification follows:-
The requirement for nuclear disarmament has been enshrined in international law since 1970, in the form of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT commits its signatories – including the UK – to take steps to disarm if they have nuclear weapons and not to acquire them if they don’t. Frustration by non-nuclear states at nuclear states’ unwillingness to keep their side of the bargain led to a new disarmament initiative, eventually leading to a new treaty supported by 122 countries in a UN vote. It entered into force in 2021, after fifty states had signed and ratified the treaty. (86 states have now signed, of which 66 have ratified - none of them nuclear states.) States parties to the TPNW are banned from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It also makes it illegal to assist or encourage anyone to engage in these activities.
Within a year of entry into force, state parties were due to meet to discuss progress with the treaty. Following delays caused by Covid-19 pandemic, this conference took place in June 2022. The UK government refused to attend even as an observer.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called for international inspectors to be given access to Europe's largest nuclear plant after it was twice hit by rockets during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Fierce fighting near the Soviet-era Zaporizhzhia power station has alarmed the world and Mr. Guterres said the Atomic Energy Agency must be able to create conditions for stabilisation.
Ukraine and Russia both accused each other of the weekend shelling which has damaged radiation sensors at the giant complex.
"Any attack on a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing" Mr. Guterrres said in Japan, where he was at a memorial to mark the 77th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing.
Despite the hits, the plant is operating in 'normal mode' said Russian official Yevgeny Balitsky.
Kremlin forces captured the complex in March but it is operated by Ukrainian technicians. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russia of 'nuclear terror' that ‘warrants more sanctions’.
Since this date there have been many reports that no doubt most KPC members and readers will be aware of and worries about the situation is on-going. Today (23rd August) it is reported that Putin has agreed that UN Inspectors can inspect the plant.
But with the anniversary of Ukrainian Independence on August 24th there is a lot of worry that Russian attacks generally may increase. Ed.
The Evening Standard, August 9th, reported that the Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake has died aged 84 of liver cancer. He was well-known for his pleated designs allowing plenty of freedom of movement and studied in Paris under Givenchy and Laroche, and also designed bags, watches and perfumes.
It was not widely known however that he was born in Hiroshima and was seven when the bomb was dropped. He was reluctant to speak of the event in later life as he did not want to be labelled as 'the designer who survived' the bomb. 'When I close my eyes I still see things no-one should ever experience' he wrote, adding that he preferred to 'think of things that can be created not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy'.
Although we are very grateful to the hibakusha who continue to publicise this disaster so that it will never be forgotten, who could blame him for that! Ed.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND