This past weekend, a record number of citizens came to (and from within) Los Alamos to press for nuclear disarmament and to call for a stop to plutonium bomb core (“pit”) production.
First off, the moving Pax Christi sackcloth and ashes witness (from about 8 to about 10:30 am) was attended by about 300 people – more than at prior Los Alamos Pax
The main, joint events then started, at about 10:30 am. The crowd present grew as the morning progressed; we estimate that at noon, after some of the news media
had filed their stories (and just before it began to rain), there were about 950 people present. Whatever the number, there were clearly more people than ever before at any prior
disarmament event in Los Alamos. Still more people arrived in the late afternoon, partially replacing those who filtered home or to other engagements elsewhere. People came from
Japan, Canada, Colorado, Indiana, Washington, California, New York, from around New Mexico, and from many other places.
The nearly 5,000 sunflowers grown by Ben and Molly Schwartz of Corrales added a great deal to the event. Participants ended up giving most of them away to the Los
Alamos community at the end of the day, handing them to motorists passing by on Central Avenue who were (mostly) glad to be offered them.
The speakers, music, and workshops were terrific. I attended the two afternoon workshops on a “post-nuclear” economy for New Mexico led by Michael Oden and Bill
Weida, whose presentations greatly interested audiences and led to very lively Q&A sessions.
A little after noon we had a quite interesting and useful exchange in front of the Los Alamos Post Office in which Santa Fe City Councilor David Coss presented to Los
Alamos County Council Chair Fran Berting Santa Fe’s recent strong nuclear disarmament resolution, recommending it as a possible starting point for similar discussions in Los Alamos.
Then a special appeal from the Mayor of Hiroshima (attached below) was also presented to Ms. Berting. Mr. Coss and visiting hibakusha Mr. Koji Ueda and Mrs. Masako Hashida were
accompanied by a large crowd carrying sunflowers. By the time we finished, the rain was over and the sun was shining again.
Ms. Berting, a Republican, speaking on behalf of the Council, expressed a desire for a world free of nuclear weapons. We don’t yet have an exact copy of her
For many people, the high point of the event came in the evening, when 3,000 floating candle lanterns made by Dragonfly Sanctuary of Madrid, NM and many volunteers were
set adrift in Ashley Pond, accompanied by a recording of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio” for strings, Opus 11. The three thousand little flames in their golden mantles crossing the water to
the other shore, with ducks and geese weaving placidly between them and bats flitting across the surface of the water, were very beautiful and moving.
Quite a few people from the Los Alamos community were attracted by all these doings, and in several instances local townspeople sincerely thanked those working on the
event. LANL staff visited the booths of participating organizations; interesting conversations ensued.
Local and visiting Buddhists brought a dignified and introspective presence. They were mostly organized under the banners of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, Kannon
Zendo in Los Alamos, and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. The Buddhists joined in solidarity with Pax Christi in the sackcloth and ashes witness, helping swell the overall numbers and
contribute to the success of that event.
From my own perspective, the best part of the day was not just the day per se but, more so, the solid work done by dozens of individuals and groups that
contributed to everything that happened. This quiet, unheralded, generous work, in which so much nobility was shown by many, is really success itself, the post-nuclear society
prefigured. It also augurs very well for an increased level of political leadership and participation on the nuclear disarmament issue in New Mexico in the coming months and years.
We'll get pictures from the event up on our web site next week, after a short vacation.
Below is the letter from Mayor Akiba to the Los Alamos town council and some of the press coverage, which began in Albuquerque and Santa Fe in Thursday's newspapers with
lovely color pictures of Mr. Ueda and Mrs. Hashida beginning the sunflower harvest.
Letter from Mayor Akiba to the Los Alamos County Council
August 1, 2005
The Honorable Frances Berting, Chairperson
The Honorable Michael Wheeler, Vice-Chairperson
The Honorable Nona Bowman, Jim Hall, Ken Milder, Jim West, and Michael Wismer, Councilors
Los Alamos County Council
P.O. Box 30
Los Alamos, NM 87544
Dear fellow civic leaders –
On this, the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I recall with sadness the many innocent people who lost their lives as a result of the atomic bombs that were
dropped on them. Many thousands who survived were badly wounded; others who survived lost family members or even their whole families. Many thousands also suffered from radiation-induced
sickness, from which many have died in the 60 years since the war. I have seen these things with my own eyes, and here in Hiroshima I live with them every day. Like mine, your hearts must
be deeply affected by the suffering of these innocent atomic bombing victims.
I hope you will agree with me that even in wartime, mass attacks on civilians, including the willful bombardment and destruction of cities, is wrong under all circumstances, whether the mass
killing is done by Japan, by the United States, or by a terrorist network that claims no particular state as home. Is this not a minimum moral standard which applies to all of us, all the
time? If we cannot rule out as illegitimate the willful destruction of cities, what, then, can we rule out? What hope is there for humanity?
Can we therefore recognize together that despite what was done in the past by both our countries as well as by others, our duty to humanity precludes the use, and the stockpiling for use, of
weapons of mass destruction?
This is not a matter of abstract theory, or something we can safely leave to others to decide. Today, for the security of our respective countries it is very important for all of us, in my
country as well as in yours, to affirm and to promote the unlawfulness of weapons of mass destruction. The alternative – the active or tacit endorsement of weapons of mass destruction as
normal and acceptable – will lead directly to their acquisition by others. There cannot be one law for some and another for the rest. Threats of force, especially those embodied in nuclear
weapons, will not prevent proliferation. In fact such threats promote proliferation.
The United States has the world’s most powerful military establishment. If even the U.S. believes it must retain nuclear weapons for its protection, and retain them by the thousands, how
much more so will other countries believe they are necessary, and take steps to acquire them?
The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons was ratified by the United States on November 24, 1969. It entered into force on March 5, 1970, becoming part of “the supreme law of
the land” under the U.S. Constitution. Article VI of the Treaty requires that “each of the Parties of the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures
relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international
control.” Subsequent authoritative interpretation of this article by the International Court of Justice in 1996 established, in an unanimous opinion rendered after extensive discussion with
many states, that this Article requires the achievement of a particular and exact result, namely complete, mutual nuclear disarmament.
With this as background, and for these reasons, I am asking for your help today. The eyes of the world today are on Los Alamos, where the first nuclear bombs were built, where now is home
to the largest facility for weapons of mass destruction in the entire world in dollar terms. Therefore I am asking each of you separately, as well as all of you together, to join with me in
a clear statement that:
- Rejects as immoral any willful destruction of cities occupied bycivilians, including the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
- Rejects the morality, utility, and legality of nuclear weaponsand their indefinite retention by any state;
- Embraces the goal of complete nuclear disarmament as required bythe Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Such principles as these are not just basic human morality, and in their practical application also a binding legal requirement, but they are also widely accepted by citizens in both our
I have seen a copy of the Resolution recently passed by the City of Santa Fe when Mr. Matsushima of the Hiroshima World Peace Mission was in your state, and I strongly commend that
Resolution to you as a model.
I would also like to extend a warm invitation to all of you, the councilors of the County of Los Alamos, to visit the city of Hiroshima. Come and visit our Peace Museum. You will see how
our city has recovered. Now we in Hiroshima have the same challenges and opportunities, more or less, that all cities have. How alike we all are in our human hopes! In this the new
century, the challenges will be very great for all of us and will require our full, mutual cooperation. I am afraid success in meeting those challenges is hardly compatible with a posture
of nuclear threat. Therefore let us work together for a peaceful, nuclear weapon-free future.
With great respect,
4 August 4, 2005
Two Japanese Citizens Tell Their Stories in Duke City, Plan LANL Tour
By Elaine D. Briseño
Journal Staff Writer
ALBUQUERQUE— Six decades have passed since the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, changing the face of war forever.
Two survivors of the 1945 bombs arrived in New Mexico on Wednesday to tell their stories and honor those who died. They will travel to Los Alamos today for a tour of the Los Alamos
National Laboratory, birthplace of the atomic bomb.
On Saturday, they will attend a 60-year Hiroshima Day commemoration ceremony at Ashley Pond Park in Los Alamos. The week's events and visit were arranged by the Los Alamos Study Group.
Speaking through an interpreter Wednesday afternoon, the two sipped hot tea under a tree in the backyard of an Albuquerque home and explained their mission. Masako Hashida and Koji Ueda
want to put an end to war and make sure the world never again sees another Hiroshima or Nagasaki. They believe they have an obligation to tell their stories to honor those who died.
On the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, the United States launched the world's first nuclear attack, dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on
Nagasaki. Thousands were killed instantly and others died soon after from radiation. Shortly following the blasts, Japan surrendered, bringing an end to World War II.
After their tea, Hashida and Ueda traveled to a Corrales field to pick sunflowers that will be presented to the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe where they will stay during their visit to New
Mexico. Los Alamos Study Group member Trish Williams-Mello said the sunflower is the international symbol for disarmament. The group contracted Corrales residents Ben Schwartz and his wife,
Molly, to grow the flowers.
Ueda and Hashida are hibakusha, the Japanese term for survivors of the atomic blasts. Ueda's family home was within a mile of the epicenter of the blast in Hiroshima. He was 3 at the
time, but he and his family survived because they had been evacuated to a village about 20 miles away before the bomb was dropped. Ueda said he does not remember much, but heard stories from
family members while he was growing up. Ueda began telling his story about six years ago.
Hashida, a stay-at-home mom and grandmother, only began telling her story in the last year. She was 15, working in a factory in Nagasaki, when the bomb fell. Speaking through University
of New Mexico interpreter Holly Siebert Kawakami, Hashida told her story while standing next to the Corrales sunflower field.
"Toward the end of the war, like so many of my peers, I was not going to school. I was ordered to work in the munitions factory ... I was separated from my family living in a boarding
house. It was a hot and humid day and I was working by my friend. I saw a huge flash and many different colors of light coming toward me. Then I was unconscious. When I woke up, I was blown
outside the factory ... I remember seeing a creature, I could not tell if it was human or male or female. This creature was trying to stand up and skin was dripping from its fingers. I think
it was looking for water."
Hashida's friend was never found and was presumed to have been killed.
For most of her life, Hashida could not bring herself to talk about that day. She suffered from survivor's guilt, not understanding why she had lived when so many had died. But as she got
older, she said she felt a responsibility to those who died.
"I need to say something to the world," she said. "That something is "no more war.' ''
Hashida is a board member of the A-bomb Sufferers Association in Kumamoto.
Ueda is the assistant secretary general of the Tokyo Federation of A-bomb Sufferers Associations. This is his third trip to the United States, but first to the birthplace of the bomb.
Ueda became visibly emotional when asked how he felt about his impending visit to the Los Alamos labs and whether he was angry at the United States.
"You can tell by his reaction it is very difficult to talk about it," Kawakami said. "He says he can only think of the people who died. He said, 'What I would like to say is can't we end
all wars? It's the best we can do for the people that died.
" 'I know when I come to the United States and say no more Hiroshima, people will say no more Pearl Harbor. So, actually, nobody is right.' ''
The group will return to Corrales Friday morning to harvest thousands more sunflowers to be used in Saturday's ceremony in Los Alamos.
4 August 2005
Groups Mass Against Nukes
By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer
Buddhists, Catholics and other proponents of peace and nuclear disarmament are massing this week to observe the 60th anniversary of the world's first nuclear attacks when the United States
bombed Hiroshima, Japan, in an effort to hasten the end of World War II.
All told, the various groups leading the events— Pax Christi New Mexico, Upaya Zen Center and the Los Alamos Study Group— hope the weekend events planned for Saturday will be the largest
disarmament gathering in Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb.
"What the 60th anniversary is about is what we as a society think about mass destruction," said Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group. "It isn't just nuclear
weapons, it is about our tolerance for mass killing and whether it is something we might conduct under certain circumstances or whether it is something we wish to reject under all
circumstances in order to build worldwide consensus against mass killing and genocide."
Beginning today with a press conference featuring two survivors of the American nuclear attacks against Japan, the groups have gatherings, seminars, music, prayers and vigils planned
through Tuesday, the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. About 240,000 people died as a result of both bombings.
On Friday, the Catholic peace organization Pax Christi New Mexico plans a Mass for the Feast of Transfiguration at 7:30 p.m. in Santa Fe at the Santa Maria de la Paz Church, 11 College
Ave. Jesuit peace activist Father John Dear will deliver the homily.
Also on Friday, the Upaya Zen Center begins a five-day retreat focused on repenting for the bombing by performing 108 prostrations, bowing and chanting in concert in the traditional
Japanese style. The prostrations are scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m., corresponding to the time the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Also at 5:15 p.m. Friday, SITE Santa Fe will broadcast a live audio feed from Hiroshima on KSFR-FM and KUNM-FM of the ringing of the Hiroshima Peace Bell.
Saturday is Santa Fe's seventh annual Peace Day, scheduled to take place at the Railyard from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. The event will feature numerous dance and music performances throughout
Symbol of repentance
Pax Christi plans to gather Saturday by Ashley Pond in Los Alamos to carry out a vigil of repentance and peace through the town beginning about 8 a.m.
"Our group began talking last fall about what we were going to do for the 60th anniversary, and we decided we were going to use a biblical symbol," Dear said.
He said the group chose the story of Jonah and his effort to get the people of Nineveh to repent their sins, in part because Nineveh is the only example in which an entire city joined
together in repentance.
"Los Alamos is engaged in far greater evil (for supporting nuclear weapons) than Nineveh or Sodom and Gomorrah, so if anybody needs to repent, it is us," Dear said.
As in the story of Jonah and Nineveh, Pax Christi members plan to don sack cloths— converted grain and potato sacks— and pour ashes over themselves as they repent for what they perceive
as the sins of those involved in building and maintaining the country's nuclear weapons.
"It is an ancient symbol of repenting your sin; it is a spiritual action begging God to forgive us for what we have done," Dear said.
The ashes also serve to evoke the image of the ashes of the victims killed during the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so "it brings in the reality of nuclear weapons," Dear said.
The group plans to reconvene at the Los Alamos Post Office, where visiting survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will present a letter from the current mayors of those two cities to the Los
Alamos County Council requesting their assistance in worldwide disarmament efforts.
The Los Alamos Study Group will pass out thousands of sunflowers grown in Corrales that have come to symbolize the movement away from nuclear weapons.
"We are not demonstrating for peace," Mello said. "This is a disarmament rally. Because Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are in their view working for
peace, so we are all for peace, but the truth of the matter is that is not good enough. We stand for different policies."
Mello said the 60th anniversary is an important moment to bring awareness to the issues surrounding nuclear weapons policies.
"Nuclear weapons issues are very much active right now," Mello said. He said the United States is reviewing its stockpile, and the Bush administration and Congress have proposed several
different visions for the future of the nation's nuclear weapon stockpile— now numbering more than 10,000 warheads.
"As a result, the issues are really wide open in a way they haven't been," he said. "It is important for citizens to express what it is exactly that they want, and it is important for
citizens to work to make those specific aspirations a reality."
7 August 2005
Hiroshima Survivors Call for Ban on Nukes
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) -- Survivors of the deadly blasts that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago joined hundreds of activists in support of a global ban on nuclear
They rallied Saturday at the birthplace of the atomic bomb, outside the national labs that feed today's nuclear arsenal, on the tiny island where the Enola Gay took off for Hiroshima with
deadly payload, and in the nation's capital.
Bombing survivor Koji Ueda attended a rally in the Los Alamos park where there were research laboratories when the Manhattan Project developed the world's first atomic bomb.
''No more Hiroshimas. No more Nagasakis,'' Ueda said. ''We send this message to our friends all over the world, along with a fresh determination of the 'hibakusha' (atomic bomb survivors)
to continue to tell about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, aiming at a planet set free of wars of nuclear weapons.''
In Oak Ridge, Tenn., 15 protesters from a group of more than 1,000 were arrested for blocking a road outside the heavily guarded weapons factory that helped fuel the bomb during World War
At the Nevada Test Site, about 200 peace activists, including actor Martin Sheen, gathered for a nonviolent demonstration outside the gates. Dozens were given citations and released after
crossing police lines. There was no immediate count of exactly how many were detained.
In California, hundreds of activists marched to the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, some holding sunflowers and others hoisting a 40-foot inflatable ''missile.''
The city of Hiroshima, meanwhile, marked the anniversary with prayers and water for the dead.
At 8:15 a.m., the instant of the blast, Hiroshima's trolleys stopped and more than 55,000 people at Peace Memorial Park observed a moment of silence that was broken only by the ringing of a
Ueda, who was 3 when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, was joined at Los Alamos by Msako Hashida, who was 15 and working in a factory a mile from where the second bomb fell three days later
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hashida recalled hearing a loud metallic noise and then seeing waves of red, blue, purple and yellow light. She said she lost consciousness and
awoke outside the twisted metal ruins of the factory, which had made torpedoes used in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
She saw a person trying to stand, with burns and swelling so severe it was impossible to tell if it was a man or a woman.
In the Los Alamos park where research laboratories stood during the Manhattan Project, placards carried anti-war slogans including ''No More War for Oil and Empire.''
A group of veterans offered an opposing message across the park from the more than 500 activists. One sign read: ''If there hadn't been a Pearl Harbor, there wouldn't have been a
In Washington, G.R. Quinn, 54, of Bethesda, Md., held a sign across from the White House reading: ''God Bless the Enola Gay,'' referring to the B-29 that dropped the first bomb. Nearby,
about three dozen peace activists declared President Bush was not doing enough for nuclear disarmament.
More than 300 activists marched to the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, about 50 miles east of San Francisco, some planning to plant the sunflowers they outside its fence.
The facility was created years after the bombs were dropped, but it has helped develop nuclear weapons in the nation's current arsenal.
A group of U.S. veterans met with atomic bomb survivors on the tiny island of Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands to commemorate the anniversary. The island was the launching off
point for the plane Enola Gay, which dropped its deadly payload over Hiroshima in 1945.
About 70 veterans and several survivors agreed to use their final years to advocate world peace and call for an end to nuclear proliferation.
The uranium for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was supplied by the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, which continues to make parts for every warhead in the country's nuclear arsenal.
More than 1,000 demonstrators carrying signs and beating drums marched outside the Y-12 gates in the largest peace protest ever in the city, which was built in secrecy during World War II.
Fifteen protesters were arrested for blocking the road about 100 yards from the entrance, a misdemeanor.
''Those of us who live here have a special, maybe accidental, responsibility to think about the hard sides of these questions,'' said Fran Ansley, a University of Tennessee law professor.
7 August 7, 2005
Nuclear Anniversary Inspires Disarmament Rally
By Laura Banish
Journal Staff Writer
LOS ALAMOS— Sunflowers, ashes, songs and prayer were used to send one message here Saturday: Stop the bomb where it started.
An estimated 300 people traveled from cities across the United States and as far away as Japan to this small mountain town— the birthplace of the atomic bomb— to mark the 60th anniversary of
the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During an emotionally charged, daylong rally, they called for peace and nuclear disarmament.
"It's got to stop. I feel repentance for the whole human race for what we've done in the name of defense," a teary eyed Fran Stein of North Fork Valley, Colo., said. "How horrific we are as
Throughout the day, many types of imagery were used to convey the message of peace.
Sunflowers, which have become the international symbol for nuclear disarmament, were everywhere. The bright yellow flowers appeared on T-shirts, hats, buttons and an estimated 5,000
sunflowers in royal blue buckets encircled Ashley Pond.
“Symbols are very powerful. They bring it all home," said Father John Dear of Pax Christi New Mexico, the state chapter of an international Catholic peace movement.
Some members of Pax Christi donned sack cloths and carried bags of ashes to depict penitence and conversion to nonviolence, as portrayed in a story from the Book of Jonah in the Bible.
"Jonah used sack cloths and ashes in Nineveh. Two hundred years ago in Boston, they used tea. Mahatma Ghandi took a pinch of salt," Dear said. "With this symbol, we reclaim an ancient
biblical image to show our political and spiritual opposition to nuclear weapons and the work of Los Alamos."
Dear read a letter that was later presented to the Los Alamos County Council from Tadatoshi Akiba, the mayor of Hiroshima.
"The eyes of the world today are on Los Alamos, where the first nuclear bombs were built," the letter said. It detailed the devastating impacts of the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima.
The Hiroshima mayor asked for the County Council to reject the development of nuclear weapons and adopt a resolution that mirrors one recently passed by the city of Santa Fe, calling for the
U.S. government to agree to complete nuclear disarmament as per the 1969 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. [This actually was in a second, more detailed letter from Mayor Akiba, directed
especially to the Los Alamos County Council. Ms. Banish has, understandably, conflated the two letters.]
Later, Dear planned to fly to Las Vegas, Nev., to conduct an act of civil disobedience with actor Martin Sheen at a Nevada weapons testing site.
Some used costumes to communicate their message. One man dressed like Ghandi and another posed as U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, wearing handcuffs and an orange jump suit that
said "war criminal."
Jillian Niven of Albuquerque stood on a milk crate, draped in an American flag, wearing only a black leotard and fishnet stockings underneath. She opened the flag to reveal the message:
"Expose Politics of Bush's War." Niven said that Los Alamos, "being the originator of the bomb, is the cancer of our social conscience."
Of all the demonstrations and speeches, the most powerful came from atomic bomb survivors Masako Hashida and Ueda Koji, who traveled from Japan to advocate for the abolition of nuclear
weapons in Los Alamos.
They told their stories through an interpreter.
Now 75 years old, Hashida said she was a 15-year-old girl working at the Mitsubishi weapons factory in Nagasaki, conscripted to make torpedoes, when the bomb fell on Aug. 9, 1945.
When she regained consciousness, she encountered a human-like creature with skin dripping from its bones and later other bomb survivors with badly burned, bleeding bodies.
"I was numb and in shock. I did not feel anything when I saw them. I have never seen humans look like that," Hashida said through an interpreter.
Hashida said she has suffered from survivor's guilt ever since. Until recently, she had not been able to talk about the bombing.
As an interpreter, translator Holly Siebert Kawakami said it has been emotionally challenging to see Los Alamos through the eyes of two bomb survivors. Her lips trembled and tears welled in
her eyes as she recalled their experiences over the last few days.
According to Siebert Kawakami, the pair of survivors were shocked and disappointed to discover during their trip to learn that the city continues to develop nuclear weapons.
'Our earnest wish'
The survivors have pledged to remember the dead. The mission of their trip was to send a message to Los Alamos and the world: "Humanity must never again inflict nor suffer the sacrifice and
torture that we have experienced."
"This is our earnest wish. This is why I have come," Koji said. "When human beings have lost the memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear war would be more likely to break out. The hope
for the future of mankind will rest upon how the dead will be engraved in the memories of the living."
Organizers said Saturday's gathering was possibly the largest anti-nuclear weapons protest ever held in Los Alamos.
Los Alamos Council chairwoman Frances Berting said she didn't think the county would pass a resolution against nuclear disarmament because it was not a local issue.
Santa Fe City Councilor David Coss, who read a section of the city's nuclear disarmament resolution at the rally, voiced a different perspective.
"People have to be able to express their positions, and if not through their elected representatives, then how?" Coss said. "I don't accept the idea that issues of war and peace aren't
important to local governments, and I don't accept that local government as representatives of the people should never be able to express matters of opinion to the national government."