6 August 2011 at the GPO – Hiroshima Day vigil and more

Women in Black and Japanese for Peace banners on steps of GPO

Representatives of Japanese for Peace and ICAN held a low-key vigil on the steps of the old GPO in Bourke Street, displaying banners and handing out flyers for the afternoon’s Peace Concert at the State Library and postcards relating to the Future Fund’s investments in the nuclear weapons industry (see The Age 26 May 2011; there is an article on the same subject in the current issue of Friends of the Earth’s Chain Reaction). They shared the venue with members of Women in Black also holding a vigil calling for peace in Palestine:

Women in Black banner on steps of GPO

The main event of the day was of course the concert, and the vigil was a very small affair, but a good many passers-by took the offered leaflets or at least had their attention caught by the banners and the traditional Japanese cranes:

Japanese for Peace banner

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Paper crane at foot of one of the pillars

One of the speakers listed for the Peace Concert was Felicity Hill of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom,and a WILPF banner can be seen attracting attention here:

WILPF banner on steps of GPO

And the message ‘No More Hiroshimas’ was displayed in more than one way:

Placard and t-shirt with 'No More Hiroshimas' message

Nuclear Abolition Day – ‘Re-imagining the Bomb’ – ICAN action 25 June 2011

Peopl gathering around the easels

Melbourne’s contribution to ICAN-coordinated global actions for Nuclear Abolition Day took the form of a call to ‘Re-imagine the Bomb’ – people were invited to convert an image of a bomb into something else using pen, crayon or spray can …

Easel on Princes Bridge with poster explaining the invitation

Take-up was rather slow at first. Many of the passers-by in the first half-hour or so were on their way to the MCG and couldn’t afford to more than take a quick look, but by the end there was quite a collection, several contributed by young artists:

Young girl drawing
Same girl taking a break for thought

This sometimes involved a high degree of concentration:

Young boy drawing, tongue sticking out, watch by brother and mum ...

This also was done by a young lad:

Bomb converted into part of clock tower of church

This ‘nukulele’ was another contribution:

Bomb-shaped ukelele decorated with flowers

Campaign Director Tim Wright was there to set an example, as this sequence shows:

Beginning the transformation
Stage 2 - the bomb has become a car ...

Adding the driver ...

Finished work - two cars with house and trees, clouds ... and cat

More artists at work:

Two adults at the easels

And some more of the finished articles:

Bomb converted to cartoon figureBomb converted to mother holding hands with children on either side
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Bomb becomes angelBomb as fish
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Bomb as deep-sea diverBomb as end of tunnel

Visit http://www.icanw.org.au/

Vigil for Japan, 17 March 2011

ICAN (The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) along with Japanese for Peace and MAPW (Medical Association for Prevention of War) organised a candlelight vigil outside the old GPO in Melbourne ‘to honour the victims of this terrible tragedy, and to show our concern for the safety of those who have been exposed to radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear power plant’.

It was not originally intended to have formal speakers, but in the event there were several addresses: a member of JFP read letter from another member resident in Kew, Melbourne, whose home town in Japan had been destroyed by the tsunami. She had been trying to get news of relatives there, and although eventually successful in determining that they were alright, was herself still too distressed to attend the vigil. Instead, she had sent the letter [text to follow when available]. Other speakers were representatives of MAPW – the Medical Association for the Prevention of War – the Railways Union, Friends of the Earth, and ICAN, whose Campaign Director Tim Wright was MC.

There is a report by Takver on Melbourne Indymedia, and more photos on Takver’s Flickr Photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/takver/sets/72157626160141551/)

JFP member reading letter

Reading the letter

Origami cranes and candles on steps leading from GPO

Origami cranes and candles

Speaker from MAPW

MAPW speaker: The bottom line is, the take-home message is, there is no safe level of radiation …
See also MAPW media release

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth speaking

Jim Green, FoE spokesperson on nuclear matters, summarised the situation as far as that was possible on the sometimes contradictory information being released. He mentioned various plausible scenarios, ranging from the best, that the situation could be brought under control, with minimum human exposure to radiation following the mass evacuations, all the way to the nightmare of self-sustaining chain reactions … “We don’t know how this is going to play out, but either way it’s a disaster…” He suggested however that it was not too early to start drawing lessons for the future: “TEPCO is a company with a track record of accidents, of falsifying safety data and of mishandling earthquake situations …” Amongst other things, in 1984 the company had had to implement an emergency shutdown at one of its reactors and had kept it secret for 25 years… Finally, he raised the matter of Australia’s culpability in this matter, it having been well aware of TEPCO’s record ‘and the unwillingness of the Japanese government to hold these utilities to account … but [having] been perfectly willing to allow uranium sales to proceed from Australia to Japan…’. He named BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as also culpable, and ended by urging everyone to get involved in the quest to make the world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. See also FoE media release Spinning Fukushima.

Tomohiro Matsuoka, Japanese for Peace, speaking

The issue of Australia’s responsibility was echoed by another speaker from Japanese for Peace, Tomohiro Matsuoka: Australia was related to this disaster, because Australia and Canada were the two largest suppliers of uranium to the Tokyo Electric Power Company ‘so this radioactive material spreading from Fukushima actually originates from Australia. So we must stop this export of uranium to overseas … if you are serious about this disaster.’

Another speaker was Victor Moore of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, pledging solidarity with workers affected by the disasters: ‘this is a very sombre occasion, and ourhearts go out to [those] directly affected. This is going to be a very long, sustained campaign in terms of rebuilding Japan, in terms of ensuring that those who don’t have wealth in Japan are looked after, those that are homeless, those that are poor, those that aren’t part of the rich are looked after in Japan, and unfortunately at the moment those are the ones who are most greatly affected …’

Victor Moore of the Rail union

More images:

Banner of Japanese for Peace

On the steps of the GPO

Another view of same

Anti-nuclear campaigners with dog