Brussels and Flemish Mayors call for a treaty banning nuclear weapons
Ypres, 6th August 2004 Walkers from For Mother Earth with flags, banners, white masks and radiation suits will reach the end of their peace walk at the Town Hall in Ypres on Friday 6th August at 10 am. The peace walk began on Sunday 1st August at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, and is in support of the emergency campaign for complete nuclear disarmament called for by the “Mayors For Peace” network. On 4th August, 49 mayors announced their intention to take part in the commemorations in Ypres to mark the 59th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The mayors will sign the emergency call from Mr. Akiba Tadatoshi, the mayor of Hiroshima, for a complete elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2020. The honoured guest in Ypres is Mr. Keijiro Matsushima, a Hibakusha, survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The peace walk and ceremony in Ypres form part of the Emergency Campaign launched by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Mayors for Peace network. With this emergency campaign, the mayors propose a step-by-step plan for the nuclear weapons states (Britain, China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia and the U.S.) to dismantle all their nuclear weapons by 2020. The emergency campaign is supported by Abolition 2000, the international network for the elimination of nuclear weapons made up of more than 2000 NGOs worldwide.
Today more than 605 Mayors are part of the Mayors For Peace network in 108 countries. Belgian members include the Mayors of Antwerp, Bruges, Boechout, Ghent, Ypres, Laakdal and Leuven. It is clear that after the 6th August, many tens of mayors will join the network. Louis Bril, Liberal Alderman and member of the Flemish parliament said during a reception for the Hibakusha and the peace walkers at the town hall in Roeselare: “It is shameful that only 7 Belgian cities are part of the Mayors for Peace network. I will ensure that Roeselare also joins the network”. The mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, also joined the network this week after a meeting with the peace walkers and the guest from Japan at the city hall of the capital of Europe. The Hiroshima commemoration in Ypres is organised by the City of Ypres in cooperation with Abolition 2000 Belgium. In 1915, Ypres was the first town where chemical weapons were used. In Francophone Belgium there will also be a Hiroshima commemoration in support of the emergency campaign on Saturday 7th August at the University of Mons (Bergen).
Today 20,000 warheads remain on alert status. The doomsday clock of the bulletin of The Atomic Scientists has stood at 7 minutes to 12 since 2002 - as little progress has been made on global nuclear disarmament. A number of countries, with the US leading the way, are refusing to start multilateral negotiations on the start of nuclear disarmament. The US is developing a new generation of mini-nukes smaller, useable, nuclear weapons- and is also preparing the nuclear test site in Nevada for a new series of nuclear tests. Other countries such as Russia, Britain and France hold on to the idea that nuclear weapons can bring security, and are developing new nuclear weapons or upgrading their existing stockpiles. This is against the legal obligations set out in Article VI of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which obliges all nuclear weapon states to work towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
For the Nagasaki commemoration on Monday 9th August, For Mother Earth will also be organising an action with floating lanterns at the Graslei on the River Leie in Gent, at 9:30 pm. This will mark the end of the tour of Belgium made by the Japanese guest Mr.Keijiro Matsushima.
Mr. Keijiro Matsushima, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was invited to Belgium to share his experiences of the bombing, and bring his support to these events. On 6th August 1945 the 16 year old Keijiro Matsushima was in class when the atomic bomb was detonated, shortly after the start of the lesson. His school was 2km from ground zero. He saw hell arrive on earth. As a result of the heat and firestorm, 90,000 people died in Hiroshima on 6th August. Three days later, another 40,000 were killed in Nagasaki. Since then, Hibakushas have travelled regularly within Japan and abroad to share their experiences. Mr. Keijiro Matsushima has been an honoured guest at meetings during the peace walk in city halls Brussels, Asse, Aalst, Tielt, and Roeselare. He will also take part in the Hiroshima commemoration in Ypres, and the Nagasaki commemoration in Gent.
For Mother Earth vzw coordinates the secretariat of Abolition 2000 Belgium, a network of 50 member organisations including 11.11.11., ACW, Artsen voor Vrede, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, Chirojeugd, CNAPD, For Mother Earth, Forum voor Vredesactie, Greenpeace, KAV, KWB, Oxfam Wereldwinkels, Pax Christi, Vrede en VVKSM.
For more information: http://www.motherearth.org/walk
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