Day 52 Monday May 2, 2005
UN Building, NY
The New York skyline is an imposing site, a small island totally covered in Buildings rising to the sky. The Gothic architecture is like something from a dream, and walking around here brings back images from a thousand movies.
No less imposing is the modern tower of the United Nations building. It rises like shining silver, glistening, it reflects the surrounding scene and hides away. It is an illusion trying to camouflage itself in the ever-pulsating Babylon. This place is supposed to house the hopes of a united world, but just like it's exterior... there is only the illusion of unification here.
We had finished the walking journey and it was time to start talking and we where about to enter this twilight zone to see if they would listen to the people. High security was in place, everything was x-rayed and we where in to pick up our passes for the conference.
All around there are people in suits, officials and armed U.N. security. The place smelt stale; from all the people smoking in non-smoking areas, there was an air of arrogance and privilege everywhere... this place is a world unto itself, it exists outside anyone's law. I felt so out of place, like I had entered an Alien space ship.
We have come here to talk, to inform people of what we had done and learnt to offer a plea for the future generations... I'm not sure if this is the right place for the truth. Our talk was well attended, as myself, Johnella Sanchez (Ute, Shoshone, and Bannock nations), Vicky Downey (Tesuque Pueblo, nations), Ralph Hutchinson (OREPA), Natalie Wasley (Australia), Atsuko Nogowa (Japan) and Morita Oshony (Nipponzan Myohoji, Buddhist Monk) spoke.
Both Vicky and Johnella are indigenous women from the Turtle Islands (America), they spoke from an ancient culture about the devastating effects of Uranium Mining, bomb testing and the importance of changing our ways and living for the future generations. It is a story I know so well, as the indigenous people in Australia tell the same story. The wisdom of these original cultures and societies is nearly always ignored... but it is a wisdom that we can all learn from and it is the very way in which we can change and save our world.
Ralph Hutchinson spoke about the Y-12 National Security Facility at Oak Ridge Tennessee, how it produced the 'Little Boy' bomb that leveled Hiroshima in 1945 and how it is currently upgrading nuclear weapons. Contrary to the NPT the American government is continuing to 'proliferate' nuclear weapons, under the 'stockpile Life Extension Program'. The U.S. is currently upgrading and refitting the W76 (Trident) Thermonuclear warhead, meaning that the entire American nuclear arsenal will be 'certified safe' for the next 100-120 years. Instead of Disarming the United States is Rearming, and is a major hindrance to Non Proliferation.
Nat and I talked about Australia's role in Proliferation around the World. I spoke about the devastating effect of Uranium mining, how it destroys Indigenous cultures and peoples, contaminates land and kills workers, and how there is no 'peaceful use' of nuclear industries. The industry and Governments around the world use fear, intimidation and divide and conquer, tactics of war, to get what they want. Australia's is one of the world's biggest exporters of Uranium, making it one of the biggest 'feedstock's' of nuclear proliferation... the quickest way to end the Arms Race is to stop Uranium mining.
Nat spoke about a new form of uranium enrichment, being developed in secret at Australia's only nuclear reactor... Lucas Heights on the outskirts of Sydney. Silex Ltd. Is a private company that is developing 'Laser Enrichment', a relatively new form of enriching Uranium. Traditional enrichment plants such as those that use Gaseous Diffusion method are costly to run and take up huge amounts of land. On the other hand Laser enrichment is very cost efficient, easy to build, takes up a small amount of space and doesn't require allot of technical skill to build and operate. If this technology developed it would swing the doors of proliferation wide open.
Next we heard from Atsuko Nogowa, a long time peace walker and currently working for Green Peace Japan as a National Anti-Nuclear Campaigner. Japan also has no Nuclear weapons but has a huge Nuclear power program; there are 53 reactors and dozens of related facilities through out Japan. One of these facilities is the Rokkasho reprocessing facility a few hundred Km. Nth of Tokyo. If this plant is allowed to go ahead, it will be reprocessing Plutonium, and will have the potential to enrich 8000kg of plutonium per year, enough to build more than 1000 nuclear weapons. Under the guise of Peaceful Use, these dangerous plants are being built; it is just a short step to making bombs and is of great concern to the world and future generations.
Morita spoke about the importance of ending the industry but also creating a peaceful world. With his many years of being a Buddhist Monk and peace activist, he spoke about the need to create peaceful resistance on the scale that Gandhi created in India. That seemed to be the central message in our speech what Governments wont do, the people have to. We are the power and we don't even realize how powerful we are, but if we band together and act on mass as a peaceful movement then we can move mountains.
Our talk was a little bit unusual for this conference as it didn't solely focus on Weapons but focused on the whole Nuclear Industry as a 'Weapon Of Mass Destruction'. From Uranium mining, Enrichment, Reprocessing, Food Irradiation, Waste Dumping, to Nuclear Warheads and D.U. weapons, every step of this industry is an act of war on the environment, people and future generations. As many people will die from the nuclear industry as have died from nuclear weapons.
One of the most frightening aspects of the talks was the 'Big Juicy Carrot' being offered to countries to move them away from nuclear weapons. Part of there bargaining plans in helping countries abandon their Nuclear Weapons programs revolves around helping them develop their own Nuclear Power facilities... the so called 'Atoms For Peace' program. There is no peaceful use of nuclear power; wherever you find a nuclear facility you find corruption, fear, lies, intimidation, poison and death. The people who will face this reality are the poor, dispossessed and indigenous peoples of the Earth... the rich never have to see it; you will never see a nuclear facility in Beverly Hills.
Walking around here is like being in a robotics factory, everyone looks the same they all dress the same and have the same 'stock responses' to questions. It is as if their brains are programmed to only think in a certain way and never to be human. Perhaps if they loosened their ties a bit and let the blood flow back to their brains they could see that the whole nuclear industry needs to be stopped now and forever.
There is no peace here, delegates bicker and argue for weeks over wording and documents without really doing anything. Whilst they bicker in the schoolyard of politics all around the world people are dying everyday from this insidious industry. They never leave their comfort zones and have to experience the realities of their actions or inaction.
It was a great experience and totally frustrating being here.... Where is the voice of reason, of peace, of sanity? That voice you will find out on the sidewalk with the people, the ones who aren't allowed in here. I thank the monks and nuns from Nipponsan Myohoji and the peace walkers for holding a prayer vigil outside everyday whilst we where inside beating our heads against the 'brick wall' of government. It gave us great strength and encouragement to feel your presence and hear those prayers.
If I learnt anything, it is this: that the only way to change the situation is to change the system, and the only way to do that is for the common people (enmass) to reclaim the rights that have been stripped away from us. The most basic of human rights has been taken away, the right to be caretakers of the Earth for the future generations of people and all life.
I also learnt that behind these illusionary walls of power sit men and woman like us. They have no super powers; they are just like you and me... fragile and human, with one exception they are not free. We are the free ones; we can act in our own way for peace, organize ourselves, think, act, and be free. But it is up to us to make that change and work everyday to reclaim our future.
In the Wild West there was a gun nicknamed 'the Peace Maker', I believe it was a Smith and Weston pistol. But we are the peacemakers, our weapon of mass destruction is our spirit, or faith, our action, and our words. If we can link up and move for peace, we can touch each other's hearts and souls and realize we are all connected. They can't stop us being free, only if we let them.
From The Emerald City (U.N.),
The Ending FootPrints