By John Millington
PEACE campaigners called on Britain and the rest of the world to disarm all nuclear weapons today on the 67th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Up to 300 activists assembled around the Japanese cherry tree in London for the annual ceremony in solidarity with other campaigners from around the world.
Leading an ensemble of political heavyweights, veteran campaigner Tony Benn told the crowd they were there to remember and learn from “the greatest war crime” of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the second world war.
Between 65,000 to 200,000 people were killed by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima alone, with many more affected by radiation poisoning and unable to return home due to nuclear fallout.
Mr Benn said of Britain’s own nuke programme: “Nuclear weapons have never helped us win a war.
“We can’t afford them and we are dependent on the American’s nuclear technology.”
He also accused the government of cutting social welfare and Remploy factories in order to finance a Trident replacement which “nobody wants.”
CND general secretary Kate Hudson told the Star that Britain’s current nuclear weapons have a killing capacity “eight to nine times worse” than the atom bombs dropped on Japan.
And Green MEP Jean Lambert reminded the crowd that if tensions between nuclear-armed states Pakistan and India were to descend into a “small nuclear war” then a billion people would go hungry, with environmental fallout on China and the US.
Traditional peace songs such as Ban the Bomb rang out and poignant readings on peace were delivered by former Doctor Who actor Sylvester McCoy and writer Adrian Mitchell.
Representatives from the trade union movement were also at the service and highlighting their role in fighting for peace.
Former RMT president Tony Donaghy told the Star: “The movement must fight for the transfer of all resources into transport, the NHS and education – not into destruction.”
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn rounded off proceedings and urged people to join the Trident Ploughshares campaign against Lockheed Martin’s continuing production of WMDs.
This article originally appeared in the Morning Star – 7/8/2012