Reports from the 2009 Day of Action Against Uranium Weapons
ICBUW’s International Day of Action takes place on November 6th each year. November 6th is the UN Day for the Prevention of the Exploitation of the Environment Through War and Armed Conflict. As has been the case in previous years, some national campaigns elected to stretch out their events throughout the month of November.
In Belgium, where uranium weapons are now banned, campaigners decided to start focusing on France’s uranium weapons and their state-owned arms manufacturer Nexter, which is currently the only active manufacturer of uranium ammunition in the EU. In Brussels on the morning of November 6th, passers-by were surprised to see President Sarkozy of France and a businessman from Nexter engaging in arms deals and ‘maintaining good relations’ in the street.
Later campaigners visited the French Embassy in Brussels to hand over a request to the French government that, amongst other things, asked that they follow Belgium’s lead and ban uranium weapons. That afternoon they continued on to the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask the Belgian government to take a stronger role internationally in leading the campaign for a global moratorium and ban.
In the US, campaigners from Nuclear Resister held a vigil at Davies-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson Arizona, which is home to the 355th Fighter Wing and train and manages A10 aircraft that have been engaged in ground support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Concord Massachusetts, activists from Grassroots Action for Peace protested about the residual contamination caused by DU manufacturer Starmet’s facility on Main Street – which is now a Superfund site.
In Greece IPPNW affiliate The Greek Medical Association for the Protection of the Environment and against Nuclear and Biochemical Threat held a well attended public meeting with several leading NGOs to discuss nuclear and uranium weapons. Materials were passed on to the Greek media and a letter and resolution passed to the new Greek President.
In Costa Rica, campaigners from the San Jose Quaker Peace Centre had arranged a screening of the film URANIO 238. The film had been produced in advance of the ICBUW conference in San Jose in March and directed by filmmaker Pablo Ortega. In a strange quirk of fate, on November 7th, it was announced that the film had won Best Documentary in Costa Rica’s annual film awards. The award opens the possibility of screenings across the country and region and produced more coverage in the national and regional media.
In Japan campaigners had organised events throughout November. In Osaka a symposium was held on inhumane weapons entitled: Towards Banning Inhumane Weapons: From Cluster Munitions to Uranium Weapons. The event was co-sponsored by ICBUW- Japan/Kansai and the Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines (JCBL). Other events included talks in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Kanazawa City and photo exhibitions by Naomi Toyoda in Osaka and Hiroshima.
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