As the world commemorate ‘International Day Against Nuclear Tests’ sadly, nations continue to cling to their nuclear arsenals, perpetuating a dangerous status quo, says Forum Secretary General Henry Puna.
“So as we strive towards accelerating global peace and security, we must continue to support the Marshall Islands’ calls for nuclear justice, and we must continue to uphold our Nuclear Free Zone enacted under the Rarotonga Treaty.
“Let us advocate for dialogue, diplomacy, and the pursuit of peaceful solutions to international conflicts. Each one of us has a role to play in this global endeavour,” SG Puna made the remarks Tuesday, at the Forum Secretariat in Suva as the Pacific commemorate International Day Against Nuclear Tests.
Puna said Governments, civil society, academia, and individuals must work hand in hand to raise awareness, engage in advocacy, and push for meaningful change.
“Let us remind the world that the elimination of nuclear weapons is not merely an aspiration but an essential step towards global peace and stability. On this day, let us renew our commitment to building a world where nuclear tests are but a dark chapter in history, and the light of hope shines upon a safer and more secure tomorrow for all.
“As we unite on this International Day Against Nuclear Tests, I am deeply encouraged by the voices of present and future leaders, our youth and our children, who are at the frontline of the fight for nuclear justice,” said Puna.
Today is about ensuring that we never forget those 50 long years of atrocities perpetrated on our Blue Pacific, leaving behind a legacy of inter-generational illnesses and problems, he said.
“Understanding this history is important to help us shape solutions and empower generations towards the justice that we continue to seek for the legacy of nuclear testing in our region,” said Puna.
SG Puna also pay tribute to Nacanieli Seru of the Fiji Nuclear Veterans Association, a survivor of the UK nuclear weapon tests in Kiribati between 1957 and 1958.
“Let me also express my profound gratitude to our guest speakers who will share their stories of resilience through the theme “Honouring the Past, Empowering the Future”.
“I am particularly very honoured to welcome today Nacanieli Seru of the Fiji Nuclear Veterans Association. Seru is one of over 200 Fijian troops that participated in the UK nuclear weapon tests in and around Kiribati between 1957 and 1958.
“Sir, we are deeply honoured by your presence, and while we know it is difficult to recount these painful memories, we thank you for your courage and your strength, as we gather today to remember and honour the countless lives and communities forever scarred by the heinous experiments of nuclear testing,” said SG Puna.
Fiji Nuclear Veterans Association survivor, Nacanieli Seru said: “We were given white overalls to wear over our navy uniforms and were instructed to cover our eyes with our hands to protect them. When the bomb exploded, we could feel the heat penetrate our clothes and hands into our skin and eyes.”
The International Day Against Nuclear Tests is observed across every year across the world on 29 August with aim to raise awareness about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions.
This story was written by Pita Ligaiula, originally published at PACNEWS on 30 August 2023.