Next Friday (August 6th) will see the annual Hiroshima Day commemoration in Hastings. The event has been staged every year since 2007 by Hastings Against War (HAW) writes John Enefer.
People will gather in Alexandra Park to remember those who lost their lives in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. An estimated 185,000 people died as a consequence of the bombs dropped by the US air-force. Each year those killed are remembered in ceremonies around the world as people affirm such nuclear attacks should never be repeated.
Since the last commemoration a UN ban on nuclear weapons has come into force. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons compels participating nations to refrain from producing, testing, stockpiling or transferring nuclear weapons, as well as having such weapons deployed on their territory. The treaty was approved by a majority of 122 countries at the UN General Assembly in 2017 and has now been fully ratified by 55 nations.
Nuclear weapons states which have not signed up to the treaty, such as Britain, are not forced to disarm but find themselves operating in a completely new environment in which nuclear weapons have become more controversial. Mainstream organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross support the ban treaty. On the day the success of the treaty was confirmed its President, Peter Maurer, said: ‘Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future. Too many times we have seen the dangerous logic of nuclear deterrence drag the world to the brink of destruction.(3)’
Municipalities across the world support the ban treaty, from Paris to Philadelphia, Berlin to Edinburgh. Hastings gave its support for the treaty last October when a Council motion passed by a comfortable majority.
The changing attitude to nuclear weapons is also indicated by major financial bodies cutting investments in companies linked with their production, including ABP, Europe’s largest pension fund.
With the Hastings commemoration this year again being held under the shadow of the pandemic the ceremony will be different to previous years. There will be no speeches or singing. Traditional Japanese style floating lanterns are usually released on the lake at sunset, with someone venturing into the shallow water to retrieve these later, however with increased restrictions the lanterns will be placed on the edge of the lake, becoming more conspicuous as the day darkens.
The commemoration in Alexandra Park will take place around the main lake in the park beginning at 8pm. People are encouraged to bring their own lanterns; details of how to make these are available on the HAW website – hastingsagainstwar.org though there will be a number available for people to take on the night.