Saturday 6 August 2005

Tavistock Square, London, WC1


Vijay Mehta www.vmpeace.org

Hello and thanks for coming. This is one of the largest gatherings we have seen in a long time.

I am Vijay Mehta, Secretary of London Region CND and member of the national CND council.

We gather together from a diversity of faiths, yet conscious of a profound unity in our common yearning for peace, harmony and justice for all peoples on the planet, are deeply aware the terrible destruction committed sixty years ago still casts dark shadows across humanity.

Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, the humanity experienced the catastrophic devastation of  nuclear bomb, with a death toll of over 200,000, and with 47,000 buildings destroyed. Today, almost 60 years after the war, thousands of people in both cities still suffer from the trauma and the devastating after-effects of radiation. Due to the effects of radiation, the figure has exceeded many times over.

Have we learnt any lessons from history – it seems not.

We are in the grip of two major threats at present – global terrorism and the heightened threat from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  To survive the 21st century, we have to deal with them both effectively.  

Global terrorism is rife. Islamic extremists, in the name of martyrdom, carry on the activities of suicide bombing and terrorism shamelessly killing civilians including members of their own community. A small minority have instilled fear and hatred.

Muslims and other minorities see global poverty, inequitable distribution of resources, discrimination and intolerance, and the oppression of human rights as important roots of conflict which need to be examined for the relationships to improve and inter-religious harmony to grow.

Terrorism have raised the stakes and made the possibility of another Hiroshima ever more conceivable in today’s globalised and interdependent world where nuclear bomb making techniques are available on the internet at the press of a button.  

Although no nuclear device has been used after the bombings in Japan, devastation and destruction of humanity and civilisation continues as is evident from wars in Vietnam, the Gulf, Former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and now Iraq.

America has designs of making a new range of nuclear weapons (min-nukes and bunker-buster bombs) and are shamelessly supplying bombers and fighters to other countries. The recent deal done between the U.S. and India on nuclear technology exposes its hypocrisy and double standards. 

Iran, North Korea, India and Pakistan have their own nuclear weapons programmes which they are fervently pursing and may lead to a dangerous all-out nuclear war, in spite of the international community which continues to condemn their action and put pressure on them to stop it.

A bankrupt and starving North Korea has acquired leverage and status by pursuing nuclear option.

The U.K. is also heavily investing in maintenance and replacement of its nuclear option, Trident.

Under these set of circumstances, we in the peace movement have a solemn duty to root out terrorism, which cannot be won by military might, improvement of international relations and pursue a path of peace, security, stability and global disarmament.

Let me quote Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima at the time of the Nuclear-non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) this year when he said:

"The brunt of any nuclear attack will be felt by cities," … "and it is incumbent upon us as the representatives of our citizens to advocate freeing the world from this threat. Mayors and people of the world are clear: there is no excuse for prolonging this intolerable situation." 

‘There is nothing normal, natural or necessary about nuclear weapons. They’re a deadly cancer on the planet that need to be removed.’

We should also take heed of the words of Robert McNamara, former US Secretary of State, who recently said in the article Apocalypse Soon (Foreign Policy) that he believes the United States must no longer rely on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. To do so is ‘immoral, illegal, and dreadfully dangerous.

While remembering the ghastly incident of the dropping of the 1st atomic bomb ‘little boy’ on Hiroshima, today we gather to further the cause of peace, mutual understanding, and build a strong foundation for a nuclear-free, democratic, sustainable, just and peaceful world. We say loud and clear . . .