Thursday, June 27, 2019

Hiroshima memorial examines current nuclear threat

August 8, 2018 by Adam Marsh, student editor 

On August 9, Victorians will gather at Wake Up! It’s Two Minutes to Midnight to discuss the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty and hear citizens and politicians—such as NDP MP Randall Garrison and Oak Bay mayor Nils Jenson—talk about the threat of nuclear weapons and pay their respects to victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty was passed in July of 2017, but Canada was not part of the negotiations. No countries that have nuclear weapons have signed the treaty; experts say that Canada’s stance could hinder the country’s ability to get a seat on the United Nations Security Council. 

But for Victoria pediatrician Jonathan Down, global survival is more important. Down is president-elect of Physicians for Global Survival and a member of the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network. He says he’s disappointed in local politicians who don’t take this matter seriously, especially considering the talk of nuclear threats today.

“We are targets,” he says, noting that Victoria is just north of Naval Base Kitsap, one of the largest US naval bases. “These are not military weapons; these are targeting civilian population. The municipal politicians, they don’t quite understand that whether it’s the Highlands or North Saanich, or whatever, these are target areas.”

Physicians for Global Survival president-elect Jonathan Down (photo provided).

Down says that most people in this area think that the threat is somewhere else and is someone else’s problem, but he stresses this isn’t the case.

“No,” says Down. “Nuclear weapons don’t work that way.” 

Down says, for example, computer analytics show that a minimum of two billion people could die as a result of a small-scale nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Closer to home, at the Beacon Hill Park memorial, images of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings will be shown as an artwork display; as well, traditional Japanese paper lanterns will be shown, which is the Japanese cultural way of giving hope.

“We’re calling for the Canadian government to sign the recently adopted ban treaty,” says Down. “We’re one year on now from the adoption of the treaty by 122 countries around the world. Unfortunately, Canada was not part of the negotiations; it’s refused to sign.”

Down says that nuclear weapons don’t take prisoners; he encourages people to come to the memorial to make their voices heard on the issue of the ban treaty.

“You may not agree with everybody,” he says, “but at least be there and express your opinion. I’d like to see Canada sign the ban treaty… If Canada won’t sign, as citizens of Canada, we can sign.”

Down has gathered thousands of signatures from residents of lower Vancouver Island, and eventually, he says, he will go to Ottawa and present them to the Prime Minister. 

“We are concerned,” he says. “As a physician, this is part of my concern not only for my individual patients but also for the population. That’s why I’m involved as a pediatrician: concern for the long-term future of not only my children, but also my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren.”

Wake Up! It’s Two Minutes to Midnight
7 pm Thursday, August 9
Free, Beacon Hill Park bandshell
psr.org/blog/event/wake-up-its-two-minutes-to-midnight/

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