LOUISE FRANKLIN-RAMIREZ’ SPEECH-2000 WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST A & H BOMBS
I am deeply honored to address the 2000 World Conference against A & H bombs on the most pressing task facing humanity- the total abolishment-of nuclear weapons- so that the horror that befell Hiroshima and Nagasaki is never repeated. Warmest greetings to my sisters and brothers from throughout Japan and world-wide, and special greetings and gratitude to the Hibakusha, who have worked ceaselessly to remind us of the horror of nuclear war.
My own peace activism began in 1917 in support of the victims-of the Armenian Holocaust, and I have been active, ever since, in support of human rights and opposed to oppression, especially the tyranny of nuclear weapons. I solemnly pledge to continue to actively confront the evil of nuclear weapons until they are forever. abolished from the face of the earth.
I represent the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee, a grass-roots coalition of the Washington, D.C. area peace, justice, and religious groups which, for the past twenty years, has organized the largest annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance in the U.S.A. For the past 15 years we have worked in partnership with Nihon Hidankyo to bring delegations of Hibakusha to the United States to give testimony and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. This year we are hosting 3 Hibakusha delegations visiting 5 different states. We look to the Hibakusha and other radiation victims for leadership and guidance in formulating our themes and programs.
When Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in 1980, approximately 40,000 nuclear weapons were poised to end life on earth. Today, twenty years later, 30,000 nuclear weapons still remain. Russia deploys thousands of deteriorating nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert, and has abandoned its long-held commitment of “no first use”. The Clinton administration recently has unveiled plans to develop an extraordinarily destabilizing anti-ballistic missile system, which, coupled with NATO expansion, the revision of the US/Japan Security Guidelines, and the development of a super accurate “first strike” nuclear force, represents an affront to global security. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the menace of global nuclear annihilation is increasingly plausible. We must actively challenge and resist these ongoing preparations for what would be the final act of global annihilation.
While working for nuclear abolition, we should also understand that the primary purpose of nuclear weapons is to impose economic and political control. Hunger, Homelessness, lack of health-care, and a deteriorating environment are symbols of the insane pursuit of military and nuclear supremacy. It is time to stop sacrificing the children’s future on the altar of corporate and military greed. Let us use this occasion to broaden our struggle to include all popular movements confronting economic, political and social oppression, and link hands world-wide to abolish nuclear weapons and regain control of the human and natural resources which have been stolen from our communities to fuel this “Nuclear Madness.”
When I was a youth, the most important lesson I learned was; “you can’t kill the spirit.” Today I want to impart this precept to the beautiful young people attending the World Conference, to give you strength and courage in the struggle ahead. With our hearts, minds and hands, working together, we keep alive the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thus keeping alive the priceless vision of a world without nuclear weapons. Let us solemnly pledge to recommit ourselves to work unceasingly to establish a just peace, to oppose militarism, and to abolish nuclear weapons, so that the children of the world may share and enjoy a beneficent and bountiful future.