by Robert Laurie
ON WEDNESDAY 6th August 1945 the United States Air Force dropped their atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima killing about 100,000 instantly and leaving countless others to die of cancers decades later. Peace activists mark the tragedy of Hiroshima every year and among the commemorations was that organised by CND in central London’s Tavistock Square.
The ceremony, established in 1967 by the then Camden Mayor Millie Miller was this year attended by about 200 people young and old. Compered by Islington North Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, the Workers Music Association and Raised Voices choirs sang in English and Japanese. The speakers included local Labour MP and former Health Minister Frank Dobson, Camden’s present Mayor Nurul Islam and local vicar Paul Hawkins. CND Chair Kate Hudson, veteran pacifist Pat Arrowsmith and thirteen year old Sonia from Children Against the War also spoke. Pat Arrowsmith said that while it was regrettable that there is still a need for CND half a century after it was founded in 1958 the movement has had a number of encouraging successes such as the non-proliferation treaties and South Africa’s abandonment of nuclear weapons under Nelson Mandela.
She took comfort in the fact that leading American politicians, when out of office, condemn nuclear weapons. Tony Benn concluded the ceremony by reminding the audience that the bombing of Hiroshima was the first shot of the Cold War because the incineration of the city was intended to be a warning to the Soviet Union.