80 strong Japanese delegation stages vigil in Las Vegas

The following was written on Las Vegas City Life about the visit of the Japanese delegation of Gensuikyo which had also been present during the negotiations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York at the beginning of May.

Unfortunately this LV City Life blog is making a comparison with protesting against racist oppression, which is according to us also a valid peace protest. But by lack of any other report on the ground from Nevada about the Japanese delegation, we publish this text here.

Please note that there is a peace vigil every Thursday morning from 8.30 in front of the Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas that you are welcome to attend…

The non-nuclear option
posted by Jason Whited
Thursday, May. 13, 2010

(Photo: Japanese activists rally for nuclear-free world outside the Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse May 6)

Latinos taking to the streets to protest Arizona’s racist oppression have continued to dominate headlines across the American West, but a far worse brand of brutality drew scores of international activists to Las Vegas last week: the threat of nuclear annihilation.

More than 80 Japanese activists, fresh off a rally last week outside negotiations for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in New York City, made the trek to Las Vegas to take part in a May 6 peace vigil outside the Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse.

The Japanese citizens, part of a delegation from the Japan Council Against A & H Bombs (known as Gensuikyo in their native tongue) banged drums, held signs reading “For the existence of human beings and the future of children: a world without nuclear weapons” and, later in the day, rallied with members of the Western Shoshone Nation at the Nevada Test Site to protest the continuing reliance on nuclear weapons as the ultimate deterrent.

Humiko Mochisuki, spokeswoman for the group, told CityLife through an interpreter, “We came here because of both the existence of the nuclear test site and to share our tales of suffering from nuclear fallout that continues to afflict the Japanese people, people who still suffer from so many diseases as a result of the nuclear weapons used in World War II. It’s really scary because this sickness continues to affect new generations of Japanese. It should not happen again.”

The Vegas delegation was part of a larger contingent of 1,500 Japanese activists who came to the United States last week to pressure world leaders to finally abandon the bomb. Before 80 of them arrived at their Vegas stop, they rallied, demonstrated and paraded outside the United Nations building in Manhattan as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke inside as part of the officially sanctioned nonproliferation proceedings. The activists even tried to present U.N. treaty negotiators with boxes of 100,000 signatures from citizens across the world who were demanding an end to nuclear weapons, but officials only allowed two small boxes inside.

Back in Vegas, Japanese activists said President Barack Obama, despite recent promises, hasn’t done enough to rid the world of the nuclear threat.

“We believe that we all have to achieve a complete ban on nuclear weapons, so we welcome Obama’s proposals, but we need more than proposals,” said Mochisuki. “He needs to act to get rid of all the nuclear weapons. Obama might be controlled by the same powerful interests who only want wage war – the same interests that controlled George W. Bush’s policies – but the power of grassroots people can change things internationally.”

How much the grassroots are getting through to Obama, however, remains to be seen – especially considering the young president has proposed cutting nuclear weapons by just one-third, that he continues to parrot Israel’s hysteria-inducing talking points that Iran will stop at nothing to build a bomb (despite 2009 testimony from Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Mike Maples that Iran has zero weapons-grade uranium and that its missile tests are not related to its nuclear activities) and, finally, that Obama has said nothing about cementing a nuke-free zone across Latin America (despite Brazil’s three formerly secret nuclear programs from 1975 to 1990, and its recent efforts to deploy a fleet of nuclear submarines). This is to say nothing, of course, about Obama’s new-found reluctance to stop America’s current oil wars, including his May 12 memo, placed in the Federal Register after normal business hours, that seems to indicate troop withdrawals from Iraq will be delayed at least another year.

Still, activists like Mochisuki remain hopeful that human beings can eventually evolve beyond their current desire to murder one another for territory and treasure.

“I have a hope, and I believe, that we can create a world without nuclear weapons, without killing each other. We, as the people of all countries, have the power to demand this of our leaders. It is beginning to happen, this call for nonviolence is beginning to spread around the world. This people’s movement can change governments. We can achieve this,” she said.

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