Zenroren and brother unions call for international solidarity for abolition of nuclear weapons and world peace
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) on August 4 hosted an international meeting in Hiroshima to share experiences in the movement for a peaceful and just world without nuclear weapons. The meeting was attended by about 80 people, including 4 overseas representatives, who participated in the 2010 World Conference against A & H Bombs: the Alliance of Progressive Labor (Philippines), the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) of France, and the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE) of the United States.
In his speech to welcome the overseas participants, ONO Susumu, president of the Hiroshima Prefectural Federation of Trade Unions, referred to his being a second-generation victim of the atomic bombing and his participation in activities of the association of second-generation victims.
Referring to the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he stressed that the trade unions are called upon to take up the task of passing the damage and after-effects of the world's first nuclear attack on to the younger people.
In the report to the meeting, Zenroren Secretary General ODAGAWA Yoshikazu said, "It is our duty to keep alive memories of what happened on that day in Hiroshima 65 years ago." Calling for the start of negotiations at the United Nations for eliminating nuclear weapons in a set time frame, he emphasized the importance of urging governments of the world to work for the conclusion of an international convention totally banning nuclear weapons and the urgency of heightening international awareness to this end.
A participant from the Philippines spoke about the role of trade unions in the struggle to get the US military base closed.
An Indian representative said that his union has worked hand in hand with Zenroren and collected 1.2 million signatures calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
A French participant said the movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons is developing as a social movement in France.
A U.S. participant said that U.S. military expenditure is growing at the cost of the living standards of the people.
Many speakers touched upon the issues of the elimination of nuclear weapons and the removal of foreign military bases as well as the growing use of contingent workers and the crisis of social services, which are phenomena common to many countries.
Participants from Japanese unions spoke about grassroots efforts in the workplaces as well as in local communities.
KOMOTO Takeshi, who was denied renewal of his contract as a temporary agency worker at Panasonic, spoke about his struggle demanding direct employment in Fukui Prefecture and about the present employment situation in general. He emphasized the need for a law to protect workers.
Finally, joined by Hiroshima railway workers' choir "Nappers," participants sang "NO PASARAN!" (They shall not pass!) together and pledged to continue such international discussion and contribute to making a success of the World Conference.
The Alliance of Progressive Labor (Philippines)
Presentation by Edwin Acheta Bustillos
Militant greetings of peace with justice from Filipino trade union and social activists!
My organization ? the Alliance of Progressive Labor or APL ? is a national labor center in the Philippines, which is comprised of different types of workersf organizations in the private, informal and migrant sectors.
APL members wish to solemnly bow our heads to show our profound respect and solidarity to the organizers of the World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs as well as the delegates and guests here, with special mention to the descendants of the victims of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
APL members also wish to raise our clenched fists to show our steadfast commitment, and to fight along with you, to rid our world of all forms of injustices, abuses, and undue burden imposed to the peoples of the world:
Abundance of the few and miserable poverty of the majority; tyranny or elitist rule; unjust economic system and global trade policies; invasion and many forms of intervention of other countries; wars or violence based on greed, domination and bigotry; the rape of the environment; and the specter of annihilation of humanity and our planet due to senseless production and stockpiling of atomic and hydrogen bombs or any other more devastating weapons of mass destruction or WMDs in the future, biological and chemical armaments included, under the guise of gdeterrenceh and gnational security.h
Here in Hiroshima, 65 years ago or on the morning of August 6, 1945, the US plane Enola Gay dropped the gLittle Boy.h Three days later or at almost noon on Aug. 9, the American plane Bockscar released the gFat Boy.h These unprecedented bombings not only slaughtered more than 200,000 people, including those who later died of burns, cancer and other radiation-induced diseases, but ushered in a very dangerous era that threatens the whole world. The A-bomb had in fact pressed the birth of the perilous Cold War between the US and the then USSR, together with their respective allies and client- or satellite-states. Moreover, other countries soon built and detonated their own nuclear bombs ? USSR in 1949, UK in 1952, France in 1960, and China in 1964. In the same order, these five nations had further strengthened nuclear weapons by launching the more devastating thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs, led again by the US in 1952 and closely followed by the USSR in 1953. This had further triggered the nuclear arms race ? more numerous, more powerful A-bombs and H-bombs ? and had pushed the world on the brink of armageddon.
Estimates of the total operational and stockpiled tactical and strategic warheads of these five nuclear weapon states (NWS) ? which are also the five permanent members of the UN Security Council ? could reach to more than 20,000 warheads, mostly Russian (or the former USSR) and American. Following the initial signing in 1968 of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT, now with 189 signatory nations) and its indefinite extension in 1995, as well as the strategic arms reduction treaties between the US and the USSR (and later Russia) ? START I in 1991, START II in 1993, and the New START this year ? nuclear arming outside the NWS group was curbed and several thousand nuclear warheads were supposedly dismantled. But the remaining nuclear arms are still mind-boggling and more than enough to wipe out life on Earth. To make things worse, some non-NPT signatory countries are known to possess nuclear arsenal. For instance, Israel, India and Pakistan are believed to have almost 400 nuclear bombs between them. North Korea and Iran are said to have the capability to make their own nuclear missiles.
The limitations of a number of international bodies and treaties ? the United Nations itself, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the NPT, etc. ? to substantially lessen if not totally eradicate WMDs, like the nukes, signify that gnuclear deterrenceh or even the gmutually assured destructionh (MAD) theory is indeed a fallacy. In fact, it has propelled nuclear bullying and nuclear proliferation. Nuclear powers, especially the US, are merely paying lip service to a gnuclear weapon-free world,h just like the gAtoms for Peaceh in the early f50s of former US President Dwight Eisenhower.
Japan is not even spared by this double-talk of the US government and its military brass. Despite the very clear no-nukes policy in its Peace Constitution, as well as the gThree Non-Nuclear Principlesh (nonproduction, nonpossession, nonintroduction) and, to an extent, the gFour Pillars Nuclear Policy,h all these have routinely been violated by the US military in Japan. Aside from the abuses committed by some servicemen to the natives of Okinawa, it is an gopen secreth that the US military base there has been used as a storage and transshipment point for nuclear arms. Thus, Yukio Hatoyama was forced to resign last June after only eight months as Prime Minister when he reneged on his partyfs campaign promise to close the base ? a vow that catapulted his Democratic Party to power after more than 50 years of the Liberal Democratic Party rule, which in turn covertly allowed the Americans to flout the no-nukes rule.
In the Philippines, the same US subterfuge ? with the connivance of top Philippine officials ? has been used for decades until the Americans were forced to vacate their bases there, particularly Clark Air Base in 1991 and Subic Naval Base in 1992, when the Philippine Senate rejected the lease extension of these bases, and the massive eruption of Mt. Pinatubo brought them the coup de gr?ce. Subic ? then the biggest US Navy installation in the Pacific ? and Clark ? then the largest US overseas military installation ? both played pivotal roles in the wars in Vietnam and Indochina and in the Asia-Pacific theater of the Cold War. Anti-bases activists, including trade unionists, even during the martial law regime of Marcos, had without letup exposed the presence of nuclear weapons and other hazardous materials inside these bases and demanded their closures. But the US military presence has gradually returned highlighted by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in 1999, which was widely opposed by organized sectors like the progressive trade unions, but was railroaded by top Philippine officials. In the aftermath of 9/11, the US forces have noticeably been active in so-called gjoint military exercisesh and been conspicuous in areas with Islamic rebels. Progressive forces, including APL and its allies, have continued to be vigilant lest these developments be used by the US forces to unlawfully intervene in Philippine internal affairs and sneak in, even in transit, WMDs.
APL fully supports the international peace movements, including the anti-WMD campaigns as well as the setting up of nukes-free zones locally and internationally. At the same time, however, the APL believes that there must be a deliberate attempt for the whole social movements to study and try to connect the gnuclear menaceh to the other multi-faceted issues and concerns of the people in the Philippines, in Japan, in Asia, in the entire world. Therefore, as there will be no real peace without real justice ? the labor movement and the much broader social movements of POs and NGOs or the civil society at large must jointly strive to advocate for labor, trade union, human and democratic rights, including the call to defend and advance sociopolitical and economic rights of the worldfs majority that are being trampled by the policies of neoliberal or corporate globalization. Indeed, anti-gglobalizationh protesters have closely linked aspirations with activists from the trade union, anti-nukes and peace movements.
Long live the labor movement!
Long live the social movements!
Long live the movement for a nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world!
Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)
Presentation by: Pradip Kumar Biswas,
At the very outset I, on behalf of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and as also on my own behalf, pay our respectful tribute to the memory of tens of thousands of people killed by the US imperialism in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by exploding Atom Bombs on these two beautiful cities of Japan in 1945 on 06th and 09th August respectively. I also extend thanks to Organising Committee, World Conference against A & H Bombs and ZENROREN for inviting us and for giving us an opportunity to communicate with you on one of the most important issues before mankind today. I extend my heartiest greetings to all of you present.
On behalf of CITU and working people of India, I salute the people of Japan and, more particularly, the organizers of the ongoing World Conference against A & Bombs for playing a commendable role in movement for total disarmament of nuclear weapons in international arena.
When in Hiroshima, the first thing that inescapably occurs to our mind is that the most heinous crime against humanity, in the entire history of human civilization, was perpetrated here by the United States dropping the first ever nuclear weapon, nicknamed gLittle Boyh, on this city exactly 65 years ago, on 06th August 1945 to be precise. It was followed up immediately by detonation of the next one, and thankfully the last one so far, the gFat Manh, over Nagasaki on 09th August 1945. According to an official estimate of the US Government itself, 70,000?80,000 people, or some 30% of the population of Hiroshima, were killed immediately, within hours after the blast, and another 70,000 injured. Over 90% of the doctors and 93% of the nurses in Hiroshima were killed or injured. In case of Nagasaki, immediate death toll was in the region of 40,000 to 60,000. Even this monumental casualty caused by those nuclear strikes pales into insignificance when compared to the shameless ferocity of US imperialism expressed through the gleeful and proud announcement of the then US President Truman, hours after the strike on Hiroshima, gIf they do not accept our terms, they may now expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen.h
These are very relevant even to-day. For, when we meet here to take a pledge for building a world of abiding peace free from all nuclear armament, we cannot remain oblivious about US imperialism still existing with added vigour, with the worldfs largest stock-pile of nuclear arsenal. We cannot ignore that, after dissolution of the Soviet Union, dismantling of the Socialist Block and, consequently, establishment of a unipolar world, the US imperialism is now more dangerous for the mankind and world peace than ever before. Our recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan show that the United States is the most notorious criminal against the human race; it can and will pounce upon others with all its teeth and nails at the drop of a hat. This has been best expressed by the erstwhile US President Bush (Junior), gyou are either with us or against ush. Our struggle for World Peace, for a nuclear arsenal free World is now, therefore, inseparable from, perhaps synonymous with, struggle against imperialism.
We, the Indians, have a long history of struggle, both for World Peace as also against Imperialism. Our freedom struggle, while, in the main, directed against British Imperialism, it was, at the same time, dominated by non-violent movement propounded and popularised by Gandhiji, the father of the nation; though, I hasten to add, there were other schools of movement also, including armed struggle, equally forceful.
Post independence, we raised our voice loud and clear against US occupation of Vietnam during 1960s and 1970s. The movement gathered so much of intensity and momentum, more particularly amongst the Leftists, the students and the youth, that we began feeling oneness with the struggling Vietnamese people fighting against the US forces; this oneness gave rise to a popular slogan, gTomar Naam Aamaar Naam, Vietnam Vietnamh meaning gYour name Vietnam, my name Vietnamh. Such popular movement in India and elsewhere, more particularly in the United States itself, created so much pressure on the US policy makers that the then US President Lyndon Baines Johnson failed to secure nomination from his party for the Presidential Election 1968 because of his aggressive policies on Vietnam and, ultimately, the United States had to withdraw from Vietnam in January 1973. There is, however, no denying the gallantry of the brave and heroic Vietnamese People in driving the US forces from their land.
Reverting to the scenario in India, World-Peace movement is quite popular and widespread, particularly, amongst the Leftists Political Parties, Studentsf and Youthfs organisations. 01t September is observed every year as the gWorld-Peace-Dayh through rallies, meetings etc., and involving mass participation. CITU takes the lead in organising these programme with the participation of different segments of working people in a big way. In response to the call given by Japan Council Against A&H Bombs and ZENROREN preparatory to the 65th anniversary programme, signature campaign was organised in India initiated by CITU which evoked good response and, in the process, Indian working class also had its involvement in the 7 million petitions that were submitted to the NPT Review Conference in last May in New York.
Very recently, we organized public opinion, anger and hatred of the peace-loving people of our country against the dastardly attack of Israeli army against gFreedom Flotilla,h the humanitarian mission launched to deliver aid to the under-siege Palestinian people in Gaza, killing not less than 9 and injuring numerous other relief workers. Such medieval pirates-like attack on a civilian ship has been perpetrated in international waters with overt and covert indulgence and support of the US imperialists and its EU allies.
Though not directly related to nuclear arsenal or imperialist warfare, still it is pertinent to note that the third largest human tragedy, commonly known as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, that killed over 25000 innocent people and permanently mimed several hundred thousands in the city of Bhopal in India on 03rd December 1984, was perpetrated by a US based multinational company. India Governmentfs lukewarm attitude to bring the culprits to book exposes the pressure that imperialists mount on their junior partner in all such misdeeds against humanity. The Governmentfs attempt to push through the Nuclear Liability Bill in the floor of the Parliament is yet another exposure of imperialist pressure. We, in India, are in the midst of sustained campaign movement against the Nuke deal signed by Government of India with US which is having its ramifications in the peace our social life.
Another aspect that demands our attention in our struggle for Peace is that ever increasing military-spending of Governments around the globe not only endangers peace and aggravates threat to the very existence of human race but also eat into the funds that can be better used for upliftment of the standard and quality of life of the poor population who constitute almost three-fourth of the total population of this planet. Hence, movement for poverty-alleviating programmes like subsidised food supply, better health care facilities, education for all, water-supply and sanitation schemes, better communication facilities etc. should be given due importance. If the governments can be forced to spend more on these items, military spending will necessarily come down giving a fillip to the prospect of peace around the World.
Similarly, movement for developing good relationship amongst countries, more particularly the neighbouring countries, will not only reduce the dangers of costly military conflicts and necessities for huge military spending, but also promote friendship amongst nations and, consequently World Peace.
Movement for peace is thus an integrated movement encompassing movements on various fronts to be undertaken simultaneously. Strengthening movement on one front will automatically strengthen the movement on another front and the combined effect of the two will promote the movement for Peace. It is, therefore, of utmost importance for us all to skillfully interweave our movements on different fronts so that achievement of our ultimate aim for abiding peace and a nuclear-arsenal free world becomes a real possibility.
I am confident that this 2010 World Conference commemorating the 65th year of Atomic Bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its deliberations and directions will further strengthen the movement calling for a total ban on and elimination of nuclear weapons by way of mobilising more, wider and stronger public support in favour of the demand the world over. I sure that this World Conference will be able to rouse a forceful public voice to steer clear the cloud cetering round the theory of enuclear deterrencef espoused by the states bound by military alliances.
I thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to speak before you.
The General Confederation of Labor (CGT) of France,
Presentation by: William LIS
My dear colleagues,
We are gathered here at the occasion of the 65 birthday of the use of the atomic weapon, here in Hiroshima. I am speaking for the CGT, a french trade union, a member of ITUC.
First, I would like to say how questions of peace and disarmament are a strong part of the action of our organization.
I will simply quote a paragraph of the preamble to our statutes : gCGT acts to promotec the full exercise of the citizenship, the defense of the environment, the peace and disarmament, human rights and links between the peoplesh.
And of course, within this framework, we work well naturally for a world without nuclear weapon.
Today, confronted to a real risk of dissemination of the nuclear weapon, the only credible answer to dissuade new countries to possess such weapons, is first to stop any development of the miniaturization of these nuclear weapon. It is also absolutely necessary to re-enlist a world program of complete, multilateral, progressive nuclear disarmament and this is concern first of all the great nuclear powers, and of which of course France.
In parallel of this treaty of nonproliferation and disarmament, it is necessary to reinforce the methods of control of the International Agency of Control of Atomic Energy and to make apply the provisions of the agreements, by peaceful ways but which do not exclude from the sanctions.
Beyond the question of the nuclear weapons, we need to arrive to a world without any weapon of massive destruction.
Concerning these weapons of massive destruction others that nuclear, I think about bacteriological or chemical weapons, we have to find the means to make apply the existing international agreements who were signed by all the states.
It is obviously on the level of the international institutions that it is necessary to set up means, in particular for efficient methods of control of the respect by the states of the decisions taken.
On such a serious subject, no one can be satisfied with a simple gshowh and by great statements of principle whereas states continue to develop in the shadow some products being able to cause immense injuries to whole humanity.
The promoters of massive destruction weapons, particulary nuclear ones, often speak about the concept of dissuasion. However, obviously, these weapons resulting from the cold war and the logic of blocks did not make it possible during these last years to avoid the war.
These twenty last years, the nature of the conflicts changed much. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, 90% of the wars are not wars between states.
We live today many civil Wars in which ethnic areas or groups try to separate from a state, in particular in poor countries of the African continent which concentrates about half of the conflicts.
The war is expressed also today through terrorism ; and whereas since always the fights which use the terrorism allowed to identify an adversary, geographically located and defending a cause, the international community is confronted today and must adapt to a fight against a badly identified adversary, which is not defined by its country and whose claims are complex.
In these new conflicts, the means of defense are necessarily different from what they were formerly. However, the weapons of massive destruction remain and with them the means of a human madness which could destroy in some minutes all or part of our world.
In addition to our efforts to obtain agreements of disarmament, the disappearance of the nuclear weapons also passes by the consolidation and the promotion of peace.
gThe culture of peace, it is the whole of the values, the attitudes and the behaviors which translate the respect of the life, the human person and her dignity, of all the humans right, the rejection of violence in all its forms and the attachment with the principles of freedom, justice, solidarity, tolerance and comprehension as well between the people as between the groups and the individualsh.
This approach of UNESCO is shared by CGT.
But so that it does not remain a declaration of intents, it is indispensable to develop inseparable fundamental elements like safety, socio-economic development, construction of political institutions, reconciliation ...
As trade unionist and in the time which is assigned to me, I will insist on socio-economic dimension.
Globalisation is a process in acceleration on all the plans, financial, economic, communication and information technologies, reorganizations of the companies,c
But such as it is led today by the great multinational corporations and the governments of liberal orientation, it generates reinforced inequalities and the exclusion of the majority of the populations.
Only a minority benefits from it.
This policy can only generate frustrations and conflicts and does not go in the direction of peace.
We should change the course of globalisation so that it benefits everybody equitably, makes it possible more late people to catch up with the others, and harmonizes by the top the social conditions in order to reduce the social dumping everywhere. We have to control globalisation by framing it by social and environmental rules which ensure social progress and protection of planet for the generations to come. That must go with public services not fitting in the traditional rules of free competition, so as to allow all people, whatever their level of income and their place of residence, the access to the essential goods that are health, education, energy, water, transportc
These socio-economic reforms, carrying of well-being, could promote peace and make move back the war.?
But the financial markets benefit from inequalities, competitions and conflicts.
So, we need national and world democratic governorships with the intervention of the citizens, of their trade-union and of associative organizations, which allow to distribute equitably the fruits of the growth with a view to a durable general interest and not to the profits of some.
For a few months, in the context of world economic crisis that we know, it has been more than ever essential to reorientate the expansion of military expenses towards civil needs.
It is necessary to stop now the spiral of the military expenses, became in the large industrialized countries even more unacceptable at one time when the life level of hundreds of million citizens shows a significant and fast recession.
The development or the maintenance of the traditional or nuclear military programs is carried out in countries where the public money would be used well better with other actions, to meet the social needs for the populations and to level imbalances between country and continents.
I will conclude by recalling that whatever the form that take the conflicts, the war remains before a whole human catastrophe. 75% of those which are killed there are the civil ones, without counting the number of injured, handicapped and refugees.
The nuclear holocaust represents the top of the horror of the war and the history of this city in which we are reminds it to us.
So that never such a catastrophe does not reproduce, to prevent humanity from its own madness, we must act for the removal of all the nuclear weapons and defend all the values which are carrying peace.
Thank you for your attention.
United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE)
Presentation by Marie Lausch
My name is Marie Lausch, and I am a proud member of the National Executive Board of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, (UE) the United States most progressive and democratic trade union. I have been a long time Peace activist, working with various civil rights and anti-nuclear groups in my country since the 1970fs, and this is my second trip to Japan. I am honored to be in your beautiful country for this incredibly sad but auspicious anniversary. It is the anniversary of a heinous military act by my country that the world should never forget. After working with my Zenroren friends both here and abroad for a number of years, sharing our common struggles and goals, today I feel like I have come home.
We share the same ethics, the same fights against neoliberalism and global corporations. The economic plight of workers in our separate countries worsens, while corporate wealth and power grows. This is due in no small measure to greedy politicians on both sides of the world who are easily swayed and bought with promises, selling their souls for monetary gain.
We in the US have had hope lately. Our members nationwide campaigned vigorously to get rid of the dreaded regime of George Bush and his hawkish puppet John McCain. We elected as President, by a narrow margin, Barak Obama. While we were glad to slam the door on Bush, we have been a bit disappointed when we discovered that although Obama spoke of great aspirations, he seems to have misplaced his magic wand.
As in Japan, no US leader can make changes without the support of their legislative body, and many of Obamafs plans have been watered down from what we would have wished. His drastic drop in the popular polls shows this. We were proud that Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps more on speculation about what he would do then on actual action. However, the UE is one of the founding members of US Labor Against the War, and we continue to oppose the greatly expanded war in Afghanistan. We also believe that the US should live up to our obligations and eliminate nuclear weapons rather than increase funding for these weapons and security programs. While we recognize that our contrary Congress and the need to appease big business tie Obama down, we ask that he stand up for his principles and earn that Nobel prize!
Currently there are eight nations that possess over 23,000 nuclear warheads, 95% of those are owned by the United States and Russia. The gStrategic Arms Reduction Treatyh signed by those 2 countries in April of this year has proposed very modest reductions, and while we in the UE do not think it is nearly enough, it is a start. The global chess game of nuclear weapons with its checks and balances, threats and financial deals, continues.
As does the Zenroren, the UE lives on political activism, hard work and hope. This year, Zenroren members participated with the UE at several events in various US cities, including the May Day rally in Chicago for immigrant and worker rights along with 50,000 other protestors. On May 2nd, Zenroren and UE members again proudly marched alongside 15,000 activists, trade union and religious leaders from all over the world in New York City. We sought to bring the message to the United Nations to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is a message we cannot say too often, or too loud.
One of the UEfs past presidents, Albert Fitzgerald, used to like to remind the members of the old adage; gYou cannot have both guns and butter.h As our members, and laborers worldwide face economic downturns, plant closings, layoffs, foreclosures, global privatization, and the erosion of workersf rights, the gbutterh seems in short supply. At the same time, there is no lack of military spending, as our US tax dollars fund two wars, and the maintenance of military installations around the world, not the least of which is here in Japan. US citizens, concerned with feeding and housing their families, focus less on global concerns, such as the abolition of nuclear weapons.
I am here to tell you my friends, that there are those of us that do NOT forget! We do NOT forget that the Japanese Defense Fund was created for your nationfs defense, and not to wage offensive actions as the US war machine would have you do. We do NOT forget that Article 9 is the most humane and intelligent document to be enacted in recent history, and ought to be adopted by EVERY nation. We do NOT forget that nuclear weapons should be eradicated from the face of the earth.
Our Union marches hand in hand with you my brothers and sisters, so that one day we can change the words of your Hibakusha from a plea, to a statement of fact: