Protesters call for nuclear disarmament outside the United Nations

On June 12, 1982, New York City saw the largest demonstration in American history, as an estimated one million people marched from Central Park towards the United Nations, demanding a “nuclear freeze,” a halt to production, testing and deployment of nuclear weapons. Forty years later, nearly 200 people marched from Isaiah’s Wall, across from the UN, to the US mission with the same demand.

The event took place on August 2, the second day of the month-long Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the UN. After peace chants and Buddhist drumming, a herd of red papier-mâché dragons roared into the crowd with signs on their backs exclaiming “Nukes Destroy People, Planet”, “Nuclear Armageddon” and “Endless War Economy” . At the US mission, some protesters, including Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, held a vigil, while others staged a sit-in, blocking the doors of the building.

As the Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970, the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons rose from five to nine, and they continue to be manufactured, maintained and studied.

“We want to disrupt nuclear diplomacy. We hope to be a disruptive influence; we would like to have thousands of people seated in front, it would be even more disturbing. But it’s better to have a person there with a sign than no one there,” said Ed Hedemann of the War Resisters League, one of the organizers of the protest. The Independent. “If we weren’t there, we wouldn’t have any influence. It is therefore better to risk being ignored than to do nothing and know that you will be ignored and that the problem will not be visible. We just continue to be an irritant to the establishment side and let them know that we are here, we are not leaving and what they are doing is criminal.

Reiner Braun, executive director of the International Peace Bureau, said the protest would have more of a long-term influence than an immediate impact: “All these little drops of water are coming together in a river, and this river is going to change the society. Everything starts small and then becomes big.

As the Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970, the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons rose from five to nine, and they continue to be manufactured, maintained and studied. Anthony Donovan, one of the protest’s organizers and a member of Catholic Workers, said he preferred to call it the “nuclear proliferation treaty”.

Donovan, who protested in 1982, quoted Zenon Rossides, who was Cyprus’ ambassador to the UN and the United States in 1970: “These negotiations are a stagnant pretense deceiving people that something is against the nuclear arms race, which is a rampant reality. .”

The demonstrators had six demands: to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons by dismantling nuclear reactors; redirect military resources to human and environmental needs; to end military interventions in other countries, that every nuclear-weapon country must announce an immediate and significant step toward disarmament and a plan to dismantle nuclear weapons and safely dispose of nuclear waste; disarm unilaterally, starting with nuclear weapons, and the ratification of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

“I came here to educate members of affected communities, including atomic bomb survivors, nuclear test survivors, and members of affected communities infected by United States nuclear programs, including those who live near nuclear facilities,” Mari Inoue of the Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World said. The Independent. “Not just the victims of nuclear weapons, but also those infected by uranium mines or processing plants and other nuclear facilities that continue to contaminate our land, our water, our food and our people.”

The demonstrators were middle-aged and elderly, with young people appearing absent. John LaForge, co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, said that’s partly because corporate control of the media makes it difficult to get the message out and partly because for young people, global warming is a worse threat of doom. than nuclear war. “The climate crisis is more pressing in their consciousness than nuclear weapons,” LaForge said. “However, nuclear weapons exacerbate the climate problem by robbing resources of efforts to control climate chaos. I encourage young people to look at the issues of nuclear energy and weapons alongside the question of how to reduce carbon emissions.

“Nuclear weapons hurt everyone. They even harm everyone by simply being produced: in nuclear testing, most radioactive isotopes are still in the stratosphere descending, or uranium mining on indigenous peoples’ lands,” Marion said. Küpker, the Fellowship of Reconciliation Germany and the German Peace Society of War Resisters. “And that’s something we absolutely don’t need, especially with the trillions of dollars being used for nuclear weapons. This money could be used to fight the problems of the world, not to contribute to them. For example, climate change; the military is one of the biggest polluters, and it is totally excluded from the discussion on climate change.

Eleven people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for blocking the gates of the US mission to the UN. Felton Davis of the Catholic Worker noted that in 1982 “more than 1,500 people were arrested in nuclear missions, including in the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia”.

Some of the 11 people arrested on August 2 were among those arrested in 1982.

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