British peace campaigners’ events link up activists worldwide
PEACE campaigners gathered in Britain and worldwide yesterday to commemorate one of the world’s worst war atrocities, the dropping of an atomic bomb by the US on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Close to the end of WWII the US government chose to test its new invention on civilian cities despite the inevitability of Japan’s military defeat.
The Hiroshima blast killed 66,000 people immediately, many of whom were vaporised by the intense heat.
Tens of thousands more died later from cancers and other long-term effects of radiation. Three days later the US compounded its crime by dropping a second nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki.
The Hiroshima commemorations took place internationally yesterday, with more than 20 in Britain.
At many gatherings a declaration was read out from former mayor of Hiroshima Tadatoshi Akiba, who has become known internationally for his peace campaigning and his opposition to nuclear weapons.
This year’s statement included an appeal to the government of Japan to maintain his country’s commitment to pacifism included in the constitution drawn up after Japan’s defeat.
Mr Tadatoshi heads the worldwide Mayors for Peace group, to which 7,400 town and city mayors are affiliated around the world.
Among them is Jonathan Timbers, the mayor of Hebden Royd in West Yorkshire.
Councillor Timbers read the proclamation sent from Hiroshima at a commemoration held next to Hebden Water in the Pennine town of Hebden Bridge. The memorial event was organised by Calder Valley CND and Calder Valley Peace and Justice Campaign.
Campaigner Jenny Sheppard read an affirmation which was also read out at other commemorations. It concluded: “Before us today are set life and death. We choose life that we and those that come after us may live. Let it be so.”
Ceremonies also included a two-minute silence.
The commemorations came two weeks after 122 states at the United Nations voted to ban nuclear weapons, classifying them alongside chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, which are already illegal.
The world’s nuclear armed countries, including Britain and the Unites States, boycotted the vote.