The Nagasaki-Hiroshima Peace Messengers visited UNI Global Union head office in Nyon, Switzerland, today on their way to deliver a petition to the United Nations in Geneva calling for a world free of nuclear weapons.
The high school students from Japan supported by first, second, and third generation survivors of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 74 years ago, have collected almost 2 million signatures on their petition to the UN. The Peace Messengers have been visiting UNI head office annually for the past 15 years.
“UNI’s commitment to peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons remains as strong today as ever. The world should no longer have to fear this type of indiscriminate death and destruction,” said Alke Boessiger, UNI Deputy General Secretary. “We are grateful that Peace Messengers’ shared their important message and powerful stories with us, and we are hopeful that our shared goal of nuclear disarmament will be achieved soon.”
In addition to UNI and the United Nations, the Peace Messengers have visited with students and leaders from around the world, including Pope Francesco at the Vatican. This year, they have also been nominated for the Nobel Prize for their international solidarity and work towards a world without nuclear arms.
“The story of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not a story of the past. It is a story that continues to be related to all living things on this planet. If nuclear war broke out now, millions of people would suffer the same fate as people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 74 years ago,” said Daiki Katsukawa, a Peace Messenger from Osaka. “I am firmly determined to make a significant effort to build a world free of nuclear weapons by spreading messages from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
The students’ harrowing presentations painted a vivid picture of the horrors of nuclear war. The Peace Messengers are working to ensure that Nagasaki is the last ever city subjected to the atomic bomb. They are the last generation who will hear first-hand the voices of the survivors.
“Appeals made by hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors, over the past 74 years have helped to prevent the use of nuclear arms again. The time will come when all the hibakusha will disappear and memories of the atomic bombings could fade away,” said Koharu Matsuda, a messenger from Hiroshima.
Koharu, her fellow Peace Messengers, UNI, and the broader peace movement are committed to not letting those memories fade and keeping the call for peace and disarmament front and center on the global stage.
UNI is a member of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and the IPB, the International Peace Bureau. It held its 2010 World Congress in Nagasaki.