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Saturday, Sep. 20, 2008 at 7:53 PM
Two survivors of the US atomic bombing from Hiroshima, Japan spoke yesterday to the University of California Board of Regents, who manage the nations two premiere nuclear weapons laboratories at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore. The survivors, known in Japanese as hibakusha, spoke at the UC Irvine campus during the Regent’s meeting public comment period to speak of their experiences surviving the atomic bomb, and of their friends and family members who did not survive the attack, with the officials in charge of the institution which created that bomb, and to implore the Regents to end management of the nuclear weapons labs, which continue to create new nuclear weapons.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: UC Student DOELOC
ATOMIC BOMB SURVIVORS FROM HIROSHIMA, JAPAN SPEAK TO UC REGENTS, MANAGERS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
IRVINE, CA – Two survivors of the US atomic bombing from Hiroshima, Japan spoke yesterday to the University of California Board of Regents, who manage the nations two premiere nuclear weapons laboratories at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore. The survivors, known in Japanese as hibakusha, spoke at the UC Irvine campus during the Regent’s meeting public comment period to speak of their experiences surviving the atomic bomb, and of their friends and family members who did not survive the attack, with the officials in charge of the institution which created that bomb, and to implore the Regents to end management of the nuclear weapons labs, which continue to create new nuclear weapons.
Accompanying the hibakusha were members of the UC Student Department of Energy Laboratory Oversight Committee (DOELOC) a UC student government committee charged with providing information and analysis of the UC-managed nuclear weapons laboratories. The DOELOC had requested prior to the meeting that the Regents make time in their agenda to allow the Hibakusha to give their testimony within a time allotment sufficient to convey the power and importance of their message. The Regents rejected this request, leaving the hibakusha no place else to speak but during the time-restricted public comment period.
The first hibakusha to testify, Junko Kayashige (69), was six years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on her home. She was at the windowsill in her family home with her siblings located 1.5 miles from ground zero, watching an American military plane fly over Hiroshima just before it dropped the bomb. According to her testimony, she next remembers waking up on the ground, her house obliterated, her sister dead, with fires raging in the distance and all around her. A second sister died days later due to radiation sickness. Kayashige described how her own burns eventually healed, but the scars she carried inside from the death of her two sisters and her own poisoning with radiation from the bomb have continued to stay with her. She fought radiation-induced thyroid cancer one decade ago, and has been on daily medication ever since. “Human beings are not born to go to war with each other or to fight on the battle field,” Kayashige expressed to the Regents. “Human beings are born to create a peaceful society together for the betterment of all life on Earth,” Kayashige then urged the Regents to stop managing the primary U.S. nuclear weapons labs at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore: “I was astounded to learn that the University of California is the manager of the nuclear weapons laboratories. The UC must cease this activity immediately. A University is supposed to teach people how to help society move toward excellence and prosperity. It is not supposed to create weapons of terror.”
Miyako Yano (77) was fourteen years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She was living 3.5 miles from the hypocenter and had taken a sick day from school. Her school was located half a mile from ground, and when the bomb exploded over the center of the city, every one of the children in her class of 100 was murdered – and had the bomb been dropped a day earlier, she would have been among them. Of 7000 students working outside that day, more than 6000 were killed that day by the atomic bomb. “I want to emphasize that nuclear weapons and humanity cannot co-exist,” said Yano.
Kaitlyn Ezell, second year Sociology student at UCSB and member of DOELOC, left the meeting in awe. “Being faced with such tangible and passionate accounts from the hibakusha was extremely moving,” she said. “I think it was pretty obvious to everyone present the role that the University plays in validating and enabling the US nuclear weapons complex.”
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