Peace & Planet: A Cry for Nuclear Disarmament
This article by Jonathan King appeared in our summer 2015 MAPA newsletter.
On April 26, 70 years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thousands of people gathered in New York to demand immediate action to negotiate the end of nuclear weapons. The Peace & Planet mobilization aimed to build momentum for the UN’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which opened April 27.
The NPT is a bargain between the states that have nuclear weapons and those that don’t, but the nuclear weapons states, led by the U.S., have not kept their side of the bargain – which commits them to negotiate in good faith the elimination of their nuclear arsenals.
From Japan to Norway, Kazakhstan to the Navajo Nation, South Korea to Harlem, and California to Boston, people from every corner of the globe and every walk of life came to voice the common demand of humanity: We must eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us.
The rally, march, peace festival and interfaith convocation were preceded by a conference at Cooper Union on April 24-25 attended by over 600 representatives of the world’s nuclear disarmament organizations. Leaders from around the world addressed the conference, including Japanese A-bomb survivors, a group of Native Americans, and the Marshall Islanders, who were unknowing victims of the nuclear testing in the Pacific. Daniel Ellsberg made clear the increasing danger of nuclear weapons use, and Jo Comerford of MoveOn.org described cogently the enormous fiscal cost of the nuclear weapons buildup, and the draining of funds from federal programs that address human and environmental needs.
Conference delegates from Mass. Peace Action organized workshops on themes including “Teaching High School and College Students about Nuclear Weapons”, “Foreign Policy for All”, “Move the Money”, “Referenda, Resolutions, Petitions and Platforms,” and “WMD- Free Middle East”. MAPA staged a student art contest to design posters that we carried in New York, and brought at least 75 people from Massachusetts.
Over 100 “Global Wave” gatherings worldwide waved goodbye to nuclear weapons, including in Newburyport and Natick. Lowell House at Harvard University rang its enormous Russian bells for nuclear disarmament.
Mass. Peace Action aims to make nuclear disarmament a political issue that candidates for office will have to address. One strategy will be to follow-up on the Budget for All referendum and develop arguments and materials showing how the enormous costs of the planned nuclear weapons modernization are undermining national and local economies.