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Photo from last year’s Hiroshima Day event: Fernando Bauza

Nuclear war and weaponry

Currently – and hopefully not ‘inevitably forever’ – we are living in a world where some humans are – as I type these words – and now, as you read them – designing, co-creating and researching ever better ways to annihilate, harm, cause pain and suffering to fellow members of their own species. Hosting Hiroshima Day, Hastings Against War offers a reminder of the consequences and repercussions of nuclear war: just one variety of death and extinction measures manifested out of the minds and alleged genius of some members of  humanity. HOT’s Zelly Restorick asks you to consider this also – and to attend the remembrance event.

HIROSHIMA DAY 2021

ALEXANDRA PARK

6 AUGUST 2021.

Lanterns at the boating lake between 8 – 8.30pm

When a country invests the enormous money needed to buy some new, bang-up-to-date, top spec nuclear weapons, do you ever ask how this choice makes sense to the decisions makers? Are the existing nuclear weapons not good enough to blow plenty of people and locations to smithereens, in the name of ‘defence of our freedom’? Our ever decreasing freedoms. Our shared illusion of freedom. How might this money be invested and spent more wisely? More compassionately? More humanely? Is it time for a quantum shift of perspective in this country?

Hiroshima Day Friday 6 August 2021

Friday 6 August will see the annual Hiroshima Day commemoration in Hastings, writes John Enefer. The event has been staged each year by Hastings Against War (HAW) since 2007. People will gather in Alexandra Park to remember those who lost their lives in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. An estimated 185,000 people died as a consequence of the bombs dropped by the US air-force.(1) Each year those killed are remembered in ceremonies around the world as people affirm such nuclear attacks should never be repeated.

Since the last commemoration, a United Nations ban on nuclear weapons has come into force. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons compels participating nations to refrain from producing, testing, stockpiling or transferring nuclear weapons, as well as having such weapons deployed on their territory. The treaty was approved by a majority of 122 countries at the UN General Assembly in 2017 and has now been fully ratified by 55 nations.(2)

Nuclear weapons states which have not signed up to the treaty, such as Britain, are not forced to disarm but find themselves operating in a completely new environment in which nuclear weapons have become more controversial. Mainstream organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross support the ban treaty. On the day the success of the treaty was confirmed its President, Peter Maurer, said: ‘Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future. Too many times we have seen the dangerous logic of nuclear deterrence drag the world to the brink of destruction.(3)’

Municipalities across the world support the ban treaty, from Paris to Philadelphia, Berlin to Edinburgh. Hastings gave its support for the treaty last October when a Council motion passed by a comfortable majority.(4)

The changing attitude to nuclear weapons is also indicated by major financial bodies cutting investments in companies linked with their production, including ABP, Europe’s largest pension fund. (5)

Photo from last year’s Hiroshima Day event: John Enefer

With the Hastings commemoration this year again being held under the shadow of the pandemic the ceremony will be different to previous years. There will be no speeches or singing. Traditional Japanese style floating lanterns are usually released on the lake at sunset, with someone venturing into the shallow water to retrieve these later, however with increased restrictions the lanterns will be placed on the edge of the lake, becoming more conspicuous as the day darkens.

The commemoration in Alexandra Park on Friday August 6th will take place around the main lake in the park beginning at 8.00pm. People are encouraged to bring their own lanterns; details of how to make these are available on the HAW website – hastingsagainstwar.org(6) though there will be a number available for people to take on the night.

Endnotes

(1) https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/timeline/factfiles/nonflash/a6652262.shtml

(2) https://www.icanw.org/

(3) https://www.icrc.org/en/document/nuclear-ban-today-historic-day-we-call-world-leaders-act-courage-and-join-right-side

(4) https://www.hastingsinfocus.co.uk/2021/01/27/flying-the-flags-councillors-mark-un-ban-on-nuclear-weapons/

(5) https://www.ipe.com/abp-gains-700m-from-tobacco-nuclear-arms-divestment/10028891.article

(6) http://www.hastingsagainstwar.org/Lantern.html

Hastings Against War thanks to two local artists

“Thanks to two local artists for these banners as seen below, for display at the event:

Peace banners made by local artists

“Here are two links to co-creative events: the Hiroshima and Nagasaki exhibition and an inspiring exhibition in Edinburgh: Peace and Justice presents an installation: Peace Cranes, Just Festival.

Covid plans

“This year, Covid precautions prevent us from holding our traditional gathering: to listen to speeches from civic representatives and to sing along with the choir”, writes Rona from Hastings Against War. “And, as last year, we are forbidden, on Health and Safety grounds, from floating our lanterns in the water. This year too we face uncertainties over the end of lockdown. However we are resolved to go ahead with the commemoration on the same lines as last year, with no speeches, and with no workshop in the meeting house to mass-produce lanterns in advance.

“Instead we invite you to come along on Hiroshima Day Friday 6 August, to the ‘boating lake’ at the south end of Alexandra Park, by the War Memorial. Bring your own home-made lanterns – as many as you can make! Our website  contains instructions on creating a variety of lanterns, from origami to decorated margarine tubs. In case you can’t bring lanterns of your own, don’t stay away; others are already making lanterns to spare.

“To respect the misgivings of people anxious to avoid clustering in close proximity, starting times will be staggered from around 8pm through to sunset at 8:30pm – and darkness a little later. So when you arrive, pick up a lantern straightaway and start carrying it mindfully clockwise around the lake, keeping a clear distance behind the person in front of you. Place your lantern near the edge of the lake, a few yards beyond other lanterns. On each circuit of the lake you can pick up another lantern and carry on circulating until there are no lanterns left.

“Our plans may yet be affected by changes in the Covid regulations. Keep an eye on our website for the latest news.”

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Posted 13:30 Thursday, Aug 5, 2021 In: Politics

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