Colin Beattie MSP has shown his support for the Hibakusha Appeal. This appeal calls on State Governments to adopt the United Nations nuclear weapons ban on humanitarian grounds. So far, 9.4 million people around the world have signed the petition. Follow this link to sign the petition online. Every SNP MSP in the Scottish Parliament has signed this appeal, following Bill Kidd MSP’s circulation of the petition. This movement runs in parallel with ongoing talks at the United Nations Headquarters where representatives of nuclear power states meet to discuss next year’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference.
‘Hibakusha’ is a Japanese word for the group of people that survived atomic bombs. In 1945 at the end of World War II, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima and then, three days later, on the city of Nagasaki. These two atomic nuclear bombs killed tens of thousands instantly. Within the first few months 214,000 people, the majority of whom were women and children, died. Many more passed away in the following months and years due to radiation-related illnesses and poisoning. Second generation Hibakusha are also at higher risk of developing radiation related illnesses, like many forms of cancer. This severe humanitarian cost is why it is so important that we say ‘No’ to nuclear weapons.
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh said, “This growing support for the Hibakusha Appeal, where there is now over 9.4 million signatures, shows that people from all walks of life are deeply concerned that the atrocities seen in 1945 and subsequent nuclear bomb testing is not repeated. The SNP is committed to removing nuclear weapons from Scotland- we want to ensure a better, brighter future. We often think of nuclear weapons as a potential atrocity, but not as a horror that was lived. The testimonies of the Hibakusha show the dark reality of nuclear weapons. I would encourage all to consider signing this Appeal.”
Setsuko Thurlow, an initial signatory of the Hibakusha Appeal, has been an active campaigner for the prohibition of nuclear weapons. At the age of 13 Thurlow survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Her testimony highlights the harrowing experiences that thousands have had to live through. Although it may be painful to read or hear about her experience, it brings home the humanitarian cost. In this, she talks of the 7000-8000 school pupils from her year group were outside clearing fire lanes on the day of the bombing. When the atomic bomb was dropped, the schoolchildren were close to what would be the epicentre (the centre of the explosion that was about 1 million degrees Celsius). Nearly all of the children were incinerated and vaporised without a trace. Thurlow was not in the group. Instead, she was trapped in a building that fell due to the explosion. She was helped out of the burning building, but many of her classmates remained trapped in the same room and were burned alive.
Thurlow spoke of finding some of her family: “my sister and her four-year-old old son were crossing a bridge at the moment of the explosion and both were horribly burned, blackened and swollen by recognition. We could later recognise my sister only by her voice and by a unique hairpin in her hair. They lingered for several days without medical care until death at last released them from their agony. The image of my little nephew Eiji, representing the innocent children of the world, compels and drives me to continue to speak of Hiroshima, no matter how painful it may be.” Thurlow was not alone in this grief as her parents did survive the bombing.
Hibakusha Stories, a UN affiliated organisation and Nobel Peace Prize ICAN-partner organisation, shares the testimonies of atomic bomb survivors with the rest of the world. You can read these testimonies at hibakushastories.org. Setsuko Thurlow’s testimony can be read in full on this website.
On 7th July 2017, the United Nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This bans nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds. The Hibakusha Appeal calls of all states, including nuclear weapon powers, to ratify the treaty and disarm any arsenals.