UK and Ireland members of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) will be supporting local events that show solidarity with Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 71st anniversary of the nuclear weapon attacks that killed over 200,000 people in August 1945 and onwards. (1)
In Japan, around 40,000 people will attend the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6th, with around 20,000 attending the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 9th. Included in each ceremony are the Prime Minister of Japan, a representative of the UN Secretary General, ambassadors to Japan from across the world, and people from around Japan and across the world, joining with local hibakuska (survivors of the bomb) and the citizens of the two cities. A key part of each ceremony is the reading of a Peace Declaration by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a minutes silence. Both ceremonies are shown live on Japanese television. (2)
In the UK and Ireland NFLA members will be holding events in the period between August 6th and August 9th. Notable events will be held in the likes of Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Leeds, Paisley, Dundee, Oxford and at the Welsh National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny. Many other events are also taking place across both countries and around the world.
NFLA has cooperated with the Mayors for Peace, which is led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for many years. Manchester City Council is a Vice President of Mayors for Peace and has been leading the development of a UK and Ireland Mayors, Provosts and Leaders for Peace Chapter, which NFLA welcomes.
In the UK these ceremonies are all the more poignant given the disappointing decision by the UK Parliament to vote for a replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons programme. NFLA believe Trident is not the answer to the UK’s defence needs or international disarmament responsibilities. 139 states for example have signed or supported the ‘humanitarian pledge’ which highlights the terrible destructive power of nuclear weapons and calls for the ‘legal gap’ towards nuclear disarmament to be filled.
Presently, UN states have been meeting in sessions of the Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament, which is looking for ways to break the stalemate in discussions over nuclear disarmament. To its credit the Republic of Ireland has been heavily involved in these discussions. Sadly, the UK Government and all the main nuclear weapon states have boycotted these talks. It is time for mature and sensible discussion to take place to find ways to achieve disarmament, and the NFLA calls on all nuclear weapon states to attend the final session of the Working Group later this month before it makes its final conclusions to the UN General Assembly.
NFLA also strongly supports the open letter of the Mayors for Peace Executive Board to all UN member states calling for concerted action to support the findings of the Open-Ended Working Group, and it calls on the UK Government to engage in this important debate of finding a long-term solution for nuclear weapons disarmament. (3)
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
I joined the NFLA primarily because I want to see a world free of nuclear weapons. As we remember the 71st anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons, it is 71 years too long that we continue to possess such weapons. NFLA will remember the suffering of the hibakuska of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and is proud to work with these cities to say ‘never again’. Trident replacement is the wrong answer to our defence needs and certainly sends a negative response to the rest of the world of our responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) A selected list of events in the UK and Ireland for Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day is attached with this media release.
(2) Both ceremonies are shown live on NHK World which is available on cable and satellite platforms.
(3) Mayors for Peace Open Letter to UN members, 29th July 2016 http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/activities/statement/request/160729MfP_OEWG_OpenLetter_August.pdf