Peace and Disarmament
SGI-Denmark Commemorates "Hiroshima Day 2006" with Vow to Promote Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
On August 6, commemorating the 61st anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb, SGI-Denmark, together with Pugwash Denmark, the Danish Peace Academy and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Denmark, sponsored an antinuclear peace rally titled "Hiroshima Day 2006." Some 210 activists and experts, together with SGI-Denmark youth, gathered at Askov Folk High School in Vejen City, Denmark, to exchange views on the perils of the nuclear threat and effective curtailment strategies, including citizen activism.
In a message, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, a Pugwash Denmark honorary chair, expressed concern that the horror of the ever-growing nuclear threat "appears to grow more tenuous in the minds of people with the passage of time." Quoting a Buddhist scripture that says, "[I]f you want to understand what results will be manifested in the future, look at the causes in the present," Mr. Ikeda affirmed, "There is no course of history that human beings themselves cannot redirect. Everything starts here and now--within the hearts of all of you, the youth of the world."
Professor M.S. Swaminathan, current president of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, also sent messages. Prof. Swaminathan appealed for "the urgent need to promote the cultures of scientific humanism and humanistic science," and said it was crucial to arouse consciousness of the threat of nuclear war. Dr. Krieger stated that Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors "speak out so that their past will not become our future," but emphasized that just listening to them is not enough. He said, "We must act as though the very future of humanity depended upon our success in eliminating nuclear weapons and war," and called on everyone to summon the courage and persistence to succeed in doing so.
"Hiroshima Day 2006" opened with a welcome by former Askov Folk High School Principal Hans Henningsen. Japan's Ambassador to Denmark Gotaro Ogawa urged that opposition against nuclear deployment is the duty not only of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but of people everywhere, and that humanity must never repeat the horrors of nuclear warfare. IPPNW Denmark's Dr. Caecilie Buhman spoke on the nuclear threat from a medical perspective, followed by a presentation by Pugwash Denmark Student Leader Mads Fleckner.
Dr. Maj Britt Theorin, former Swedish Ambassador for Disarmament, former member of the Swedish and European Parliaments, and chair of the UN Commission of Experts on Nuclear Weapons 1989-90, was the keynote speaker. She said her first visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was a wake-up call. Listening to the stories of atomic bomb victims' experiences in the burning inferno, ensuing radiation sickness and disabilities, and rejection and discrimination by Japanese society brought home her responsibility as a human being to expunge nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.
Dr. Theorin explained that over a century ago, Dr. Marie Curie discovered radioactive elements that led to many medical breakthroughs for saving lives. Less than half a century later, the same technology was used to produce the first nuclear weapons, initially used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing mass destruction and death. Today, nuclear states hold a combined destructive force 700 times that used during the large wars of the last and current century, in which 44 million people were killed. Long after the Cold War, some 30,000 nuclear weapons still remain. The risk of miscalculations and mismanagement of nuclear weapons is an increasing threat; in 1995 Russia just managed to avert the accidental deployment of nuclear ballistic missiles. .
Dr. Theorin stated that everyone has the responsibility to abolish nuclear weapons, and further affirmed it is possible "if the will exists." She cited the courage of Nobel Peace Laureate and nuclear physicist Joseph Rotblat, one of the founders of the Pugwash Conference, which brings together influential scholars and public figures concerned with reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems, specifically nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction that threaten humanity's survival. Although scoffed at by his peers, she said Dr. Rotblat was persistent. The 1993 Pugwash publication A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Desirable? Feasible? became the starting point for the current quest to abolish nuclear weapons. .
The Canberra Commission emerged in December 1995 when then Australian Prime Minister Paul Keeting asked experts to present a realistic plan for curtailing and abolishing nuclear weapons. Dr. Theorin was the sole woman on the commission, which included Dr. Rotblat; two 4-star generals; former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara; Michel Rochard, former prime minister of France; several ambassadors and a scientist. Dr. Theorin went on to summarize the Canberra Commission's argument that use of nuclear weapons is politically and morally indefensible; indefinite deployment carries a high risk of eventual use through accidental or inadvertent means; and possession of weapons by some states encourages non-nuclear states to acquire them. .
The commission demanded that all nuclear weapon states at the highest political level unanimously declare they will abandon all nuclear weapons. This pronouncement would be accompanied by practical, realistic and mutually reinforcing steps, which Dr. Theorin went on to outline. .
Dr. Theorin concluded her lecture, encouraging each person "to act with persistence and conviction. With facts and determination you can change the world. And I am convinced that one day Joseph Rotblat's dream and our dream--a nuclear-weapon-free-world--will come true." She believes this is how the atomic bomb victims can best be honored.
The peace event concluded with participants singing "We Shall Overcome" and refreshing their resolve and active commitment for abolishing nuclear weapons and establishing peace.