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Celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize in Ballard

Photo by Shirley Shimada

by Shirley Shimada,

The Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons was finally signed by 122 countries in July 2017, 20 years after the treaty to ban landmines and cluster bombs. Last year also saw the Nobel Peace Prize go to ICAN, the International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. To mark these achievements, Hiroshima to Hope sponsored a celebration in Ballard on December 10.

The Leif Erickson Hall was packed with supporters. Mother and daughter duo Kumiko and Marcia Takamura played the koto to set a peaceful tone. Bruce Amundson, president of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, introduced Stan Shikuma, a powerful drummer who heads Kokon Taiko and a frequent speaker on behalf of doing away with nuclear weapons. He introduced two people who survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then the crowd watched a short video of ICAN receiving the Nobel Prize.

In her acceptance comments, Beatrice Finn said the world is a “small tantrum away from mutually assisted destruction.” Setsuko Thurlow, 13 years old when the bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, said she has waited 72 years for this treaty and warned countries that possess nuclear weapons to eliminate their “instruments of insanity.” She added, “Heed our warning and know that your actions are consequential. You are each an integral part of the system of violence that threatens humankind.”

Michael Ramos, Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, added his warnings and thanked the Seattle Peace Chorus for their songs, including “Let ‘Em Go” sung to the tune for “Let it Snow” with some inspiring lyrics: “Oh, the firepower’s truly frightful. But Nobel was so insightful. Since peace is a prize, we know, Ban the nukes! Ditch ’em all! Let ’em go!”

Finally, Bruce and Lilly Adams asked all of us to stand and hold up our 122 flags and yell, “Thank you ICAN!” three times. Postcards were offered to send to our congressional representatives to co-sponsor legislation limiting first strike capacity as the first step toward nuclear disarmament.