Protesters demand no more nukes
NEW YORK: Thousands marched yesterday, urging diplomats reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to remember the horrors of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki six decades ago.
Holding signs that read "No War, No Nukes," "End the occupation," they passed the United Nations headquarters, where a conference to reassess the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty opened yesterday.
The month-long review of the treaty, which began yesterday at the UN, takes place every five years.
The treaty calls for nations without nuclear weapons to pledge not to pursue them, and those that have acknowledged having nuclear weapons to pledge to move toward eliminating them.
Among the protesters was Paul Brailsford, a 90-year-old World War II veteran from Ipswich, Massachusetts. He said he was worried about the government's policy on nuclear weapons and the Iraq War, and would do his share to make people's voices heard by joining other veterans.
Nine-year-old Justin Gonzales, a fourth grader from New Jersey, marched alongside his mother. He had lost his voice from shouting too loudly half way through the march. His mother said this is the second time for her son to join an anti-nuclear and anti-war rally.
"It is necessary for kids to come to know the evil of wars, and nuclear wars in particular," she said.
Protesters marched through midtown Manhattan to reach Central Park, where they formed a human peace symbol for photographers in helicopters overhead.
They were joined by 1,000 activists from Japan, some of whom are survivors of the atomic attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki of nearly 60 years ago.
Tadatoshi Akiba, mayor of Hiroshima, was among the speakers at the rally. He said survivors of the bombing of the two cities were "the only people who have had the experience of nuclear war.
"The human family needs peace, a peace without nuclear weapons. We want a world without violence, particularly nuclear violence. The struggle against nuclear weapon is a fight we can win and must win," he said.
Protesters had concerns beyond nuclear weapons. Organizers of the rally denounced the Bush administration's policies in Iraq and demanded that US troops leave Iraq.
"We've got to change our international policies a little bit, and we also need to stop nuclear proliferation as well," said one protester. "We want to stop the war, and we want everyone to come home," said another.
(China Daily 05/03/2005 page1)