UN Sec Gen calls for nuke weapons elimination on Hiroshima anniversary
UNITED NATIONS: United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on the world community to join hands to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons, and emphasised the importance of honouring victims and survivors by narrating their stories to the coming generations.
Ban was speaking on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Monday.
“The tragedy in Hiroshima decades ago continues to resonate today,” Ban stated in a message conveyed to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony which honours those killed during the drop of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945 as the Second World War was coming to an end.
Putting emphasis on the point he was trying to make, Ban said: “There must never be another nuclear attack … NEVER. The elimination of such weapons is not just a visionary goal, but the most reliable way to prevent their future use.”
Ban’s message was delivered by the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony is held in front of the Hiroshima Peace City Memorial Monument. The purpose, according to Japanese belief, is to appease the souls of those killed by the atomic bomb and to pray for eternal peace on earth.
One of the highlights of the ceremony is that the Peace Declaration, which calls for the elimination of nuclear weapons and the realisation of “eternal world peace”, is delivered by the Hiroshima City’s mayor, and is transmitted worldwide.
The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima took a heavy toll in terms of human lives; more than 400,000 people have died – and more continuing to die – since the World War II ended from the effects of the bombing; the same fate also befell Nagasaki where a bomb was also dropped three days after Hiroshima.
“People understand that nuclear weapons cannot be used without indiscriminate effects on civilian populations,” Ban said in his message. “Such weapons have no legitimate place in our world. Their elimination is both morally right and a practical necessity in protecting humanity.”
The Hiroshima anniversary gains significance because, as some UN diplomats said it will put pressure not only on the P-5 members of the Security Council – all nuclear powers – but also on others such as India, Pakistan, Israel and nuclear aspirant Iran whose so-called “peaceful nuclear programmes” are attracting considerable negative attention from the world community and also sanctions.
Ban said that he would like the importance of relaying the stories of the hibakusha, as the victims of the atomic bombings are called, throughout the world. This, he added, was necessary to raise awareness of the effects of nuclear weapons and the need to eliminate them.
The UN secretary general said that he was “very pleased” that the testimonies of many hibakusha were being translated into multiple languages. He pointed out that the United Nations, with a view to supporting these endeavours, had created a multimedia website for the hibakusha to narrate their experiences and stories.
“It is very important that these words be heard and understood in all countries, especially by the younger generation,” he said.
The website was jointly produced by the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs and Japanese artist and director ShinpeiTakenda. The website documents, through more than 60 interviews with survivors who visited America after the bombings, the long-term impact of weapons of mass destruction.
The issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are “very close to the heart” of the UN Secretary General, according to his aides. Ban had mooted a five-point plan in 2008, containing recommendations aimed at enhancing security, verification, and establishing a legal framework for nuclear disarmament, transparency and conventional weapons.