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The horrors of Hiroshima, a reminder that nuclear weapons are still a global threat – Global Affairs

The first nuclear weapons deployed by the United States, which indiscriminately killed tens of thousands of non-combatants but also left indelible scars on the survivors before their eyes. Theirs are still carried to this day.

“The Red Cross hospital is full of dead bodies. The death of a human being is a serious and sad thing, but I didn’t have time to think about it because I had to collect their bones and process their bodies,” said a 25-year-old woman at the time. know in a log. testimonies, 1.5 km above ground zero of Hiroshima.

“I think this is a real hell on earth and the horrifying scenes are still in my mind.”

To highlight the tireless work of survivors, known in Japanese as hibakusha, the United Nations Office on Disarmament, created an exhibition at UN Headquarters in New York that just ended, entitled: Three-quarters of a century after Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Hibakusha — Brave survivors working for a nuclear-free world.

It vividly depicts the devastation and ferocity of those first atomic bombs (the A-bombs), and their successors, the more powerful hydrogen bombs (H-bombs) that began to be tested. experience in the 1950s.

Mission to save humanity

After the bombings in Japan, the hibakusha, conducted intense investigations with the aim of preventing history from repeating itself.

With today’s average age of 83, the ever-shrinking band continues to share their stories and findings with supporters at home and abroad, “to sav[ing] humanity… through the lessons learned from our experience, while at the same time saving ourselves,” they say, in the booklet. No more Hibakusha – Message to the world, accompanying the exhibition.

Recounting the day in Hiroshima when 11 members of her family slept together in an air raid bunker, a then 19-year-old woman tells how three young children died in the night while calling country.

A shirt torn from a nuclear bomb is an artifact from a disarmament exhibit.

“The next morning, we carried their bodies out of the shelter, but their faces were so swollen and black that we couldn’t tell them apart, so we placed them on the ground according to their height and decide their identity according to their size”.

These brave survivors testify that peace can never be achieved through the use of nuclear weapons.

‘Absolute evil’

A group of elderly hibakusha, known as the Nihon Hidankyo, have dedicated their lives to reaching a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which they hope will eventually lead to a complete ban on nuclear weapons.

“On a crowded train on the Hakushima line, I passed out for a while, clutching my eldest daughter, one year and six months old. I came to my senses when I heard her crying and saw no one else on the train,” a 34-year-old woman testifies in the book. It is located just two kilometers from the epicenter of Hiroshima.

Fleeing to relatives in Hesaka, at the age of 24, another woman recalled that “people, with their skin dangling down, are stumbling. They fell with a jolt and died in turn, added, “I still have nightmares about this and people say, ‘it’s neurosis’”.

One man who came to Hiroshima after the bombing recalled in the exhibition, “that horrible scene – I will never forget it even after decades”.

At that time, a 25-year-old woman said: “When I went out, it was already dark. After that, it was getting brighter and brighter, and I could see the burned people crying and running back in great confusion. It was hell… I found my neighbor trapped under a fallen concrete wall…Only half of his face is shown. He was burned alive“.Unite for peace

Hidankyo’s unwavering belief remains: “Nuclear weapons are absolute evils that cannot coexist with humans. There is no choice but to abolish them”.

Photo in the nuclear disarmament exhibition of an atomic bomb survivor receiving treatment.

In August 1956, the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki three days later, formed the “Japan A-Bomb and H-Bomb Coalition Organization”.

Fueled by the atomic bomb ban movement triggered by the Daigo Fukuryu Maru disaster – when 23 men on a Japanese tuna fishing boat were contaminated with nuclear fallout from a hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1954 – they were unwavering in their efforts to prevent others from becoming nuclear victims.

“We have reassured our will to save humanity from the crisis through the lessons learned from our experience, while at the same time saving ourselves,” they announced at the founding meeting.

The spirit of the manifesto, in which their own sufferings were linked to the task of preventing hardship they continued to undertake, still resonates in the movement today.

‘Strong, strong’

The Japanese art director who designed the exhibition at United Nations Headquarters, Erico Platt, admitted in an interview with UN News, that certainly, the COVID pandemic has reduced the number of people that can see it. live exhibitions, as well as discouraging hibakusha elders from participating.

In the past, “at least 10 to 30” [hibakusha] come to testify in person at places as well as outside the United Nations, like churches, schools,” she said. “But this time because of the pandemic, no one could come.”

She also shared another challenge that arose when working with elderly people, explaining that one of the hibakusha had died, after the exhibit was sent out for printing.

“I put him on the list of survivors but since he died I have to call the printing company to stop it and amend the text… to the past…[leaving] only two weeks to produce almost 50 panels,” she said.

According to his council, the late Sunao Tsubo was studying at a university in Hiroshima when the bomb hit.

“I was blown away at least ten meters by the explosion… almost every part of my body was burned. After a week, I passed out. It took me over a month to get it back [it]”.

Since 1945, Mr. Tsuboi has been hospitalized several times for illnesses as a result of radiation.

Ms. Platt said she wished there was more media coverage to “get attention”, saying, “I think this is the best exhibit I’ve done. I think very strong, strong but beautiful in a way”.

Promote disarmament

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was negotiated in the late 1960s to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further achieve the goals of nuclear disarmament and general disarmament. and completely.

About a decade later, a national delegation from Japan calling for the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons asked the Organization to investigate the damage caused by the atomic bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the situation of nuclear weapons. survivors.

Based on three nationwide surveys of A-bomb survivors and the documented work of experts from various fields, the first international symposium on the situation took place. in 1977. In addition to giving the human face of nuclear disarmament, the word hibakusha internationally recognized.

The exhibition shows that five years later, when the anti-nuclear and peace movement was booming, the United States and Russia attempted to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Europe. Hidankyo sent a delegation of 43 people to attend the Second United Nations Special Session on Disarmament (SSDII).

Speak up, be heard

Then, the hibakusha increasingly voiced the suffering it was causing them, hoping that it might help create a path toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

In their oral testimony, they shared their experiences both during and after the bombings and sent written messages to the NPT Review Conference in 2010 that appealed to the world.

In July 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which complements the NPT, was adopted and entered into force last year on 22 January.

In launched United Nations disarmament program 2018 Securing our future, Secretary General António Guterresspeak, “The existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity must impel us to complete new and decisive action leading to their complete elimination. We owe this Hibakusha… and our planet”.

‘steps in bold’ are required

The head of the United Nations said that the world is indebted to the hibakusha for their “courage and moral leadership in the global fight against the nuclear threat”.

Furthermore, the UN is committed to ensuring its testimony survives, serving as a warning to each new generation.

“Hibakusha is a living reminder that nuclear weapons are an existential threat and that the only guarantee against their use is their complete elimination,” Guterres said. “This goal continues to be the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations, as it has been since the first resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1946.”

While the NPT’s Tenth Review Conference, scheduled for January, was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic, he went on to urge world leaders to “embrace the spirit of Hibakusha” by setting aside their differences and taking “bold steps towards the common goal of eliminate nuclear weapons”.

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