ICAN Paris Forum – The Light in Dark Times

Over 200 participants, including P&J intern and University of Edinburgh law student Anna Karisto travelled to Paris for the ICAN Paris Campaigners Forum.  Anna writes: 

The ICAN Paris Forum started with a talk by activist and Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow. She shared both her personal experience of witnessing the horrors of an atomic bomb and the commitment she has made to advocating for a world free of nuclear weapons.

In August, it will be 75 years since the two nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed an estimate of 214 000 people by the end of the year. As Thurlow herself puts it, all of these people had a name, and everyone of them was loved by someone.

Hiroshima survivor and activist Setsuko Thurlow showed a banner with the names of her 350 schoolmates and teachers, who were killed by the atomic bomb. All of them had a name and every one of them was loved by someone.

In the aftermath of the bombing, the survivors had to deal with the horror caused by severe injuries, including burns, and the detrimental impacts of ionizing radiation, which caused radiation poisoning. Until today, there are high rates of various cancers among the survivors.

The survivors of the 1945 atomic bombs, however, are not the only ones bearing the detrimental consequences of the radiation; uranium mining, transport of radioactive materials, and nuclear waste dumping has harmed several communities. This is well known by indigenous community organiser, Leona Morgan, who has been fighting nuclear colonialism in the US since 2007. She is from the Navajo nation, and her people are still dealing with the enviromental and health consequences of contaminated land and water.

Indigenous communty organiser Leona Morgan encourages us to support front-line communities.

Unfortunately, the detrimental impacts caused by nuclear weapons are not history. Nuclear disarmament requires different generations to work together. Setsuko Thurlow encourages us to think what it means to live in the nuclear age and stresses that nuclear weapons are a global issue. We need to support front-line communities and make sure that the debate about nuclear weapons happens in every parliament.

Anna Karisto is taking a lead role in organising a symposium at the University of Edinburgh on “The Illegality and Impacts of Nuclear Weapons” on 19 March from 5:30 – 8pm. Find more information on the symposium and register here.

Anna’s travel to the Paris Forum was part of her training as P&J Nuclear Disarmament intern. Can you make a donation to help cover the cost of sending her? It’s a great way to invest in future disarmament campaigning. Click Here to donate and be sure to indicate “Nuclear Disarmament Intern” in the comment. 

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