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Saturday, August 06, 2005  
"Anti-nuclear Activists Rally on Anniversary of Atomic Blast"

By: Barry Massey
Published In: San Jose Mercury News--from AP

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - At the birthplace of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago, survivors of those deadly blasts joined with hundreds of people Saturday in support of a global ban on nuclear weapons.

"No more Hiroshimas. No more Nagasakis," bombing survivor Koji Ueda of Tokyo said in a written statement translated into English and distributed at the rally. "We send this message to our friends all over the world, along with a fresh determination of the 'hibakusha' (atomic bomb survivors) to continue to tell about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, aiming at a planet set free of wars of nuclear weapons."

Joining the Los Alamos demonstrators, peace activists at Oak Ridge, Tenn., held a moment of silence outside the heavily guarded weapons factory that helped fuel the bomb during World War II. Others gathered in Las Vegas, Nev., near the Nevada Test Site.

California activists gathered Saturday evening at a nearby park for a march to the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, about 50 miles east of San Francisco. Children painted peace banners, musicians sang anti-war songs and tented information booths provided pamphlets on dozens of anti-war organizations as some 300 protesters prepared for the march.

"I don't believe that anyone is pro nuke," said protester Ellen Doudna, 38, an elementary school teacher from Oakland, Calif. "I'm here because I believe Hiroshima should not be forgotten. This should be a day of mourning."

"I've been doing this for many years," said 76-year-old Duncan Buchanan, a retired state worker from Hayward, Calif. "It's kind of like water torture - we're going to win one drop at a time."

No acts of civil disobedience were planned for the event, but laboratory security guards and area police were standing by. Protesters intended to plant sunflowers near the gate.

Although the facility was created years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the research laboratory has helped develop nuclear weapons in the nation's current arsenal. No bombs are made at Lawrence Livermore, but the facility stores 880 pounds of plutonium - enough to make 300 nuclear bombs, according to Tara Dorabji, outreach director of Tri-Valley CARES, one of the organizers of the event.

In Japan, Hiroshima marked the anniversary with prayers and water for the dead, and a call by the mayor for nuclear powers to abandon their arsenals and stop "jeopardizing human survival." At 8:15 a.m., the instant of the blast, the city's trolleys stopped and more than 55,000 people at Peace Memorial Park observed a moment of silence that was broken only by the ringing of a bronze bell.

Ueda, who was 3 when the bomb fell on Hiroshima, was joined at Los Alamos by Masako Hashida, who was 15 and working in a factory a mile from where the second bomb was dropped three days later on Nagasaki.

In an interview earlier in the week with the Associated Press, Hashida recalled hearing a loud metallic noise and then seeing waves of red, blue, purple and yellow light. She said she lost consciousness and awoke outside the twisted metal ruins of the factory, which had made torpedoes used in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Hashida recalled seeing a person trying to stand - barely human-like because severe burns and swelling made it impossible to tell whether it was a man or a woman.

By midmorning, more than 500 people had gathered in a Los Alamos park where research laboratories stood during the Manhattan Project, which developed the world's first atomic bomb.

"In this place, where our country threatens the whole human race and the whole of creation, we repent of our nuclear violence," the Rev. John Dear of Pax Christi, a Catholic peace organization, said in an opening prayer.

Placards carried anti-war slogans including "No More War for Oil and Empire" and "We're sorry about Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

Across from the park, a group of veterans offered an opposing message, with a sign reading "If there hadn't been a Pearl Harbor, there wouldn't have been a Hiroshima."

Steve Stoddard, 80, of Los Alamos, said the group was trying to counter the "demonizing of the bomb" by the anti-nuclear demonstrators.

"We feel the bomb saved our lives," Stoddard said, a World War II veteran who fought in Europe. He said he believed he would have been sent to fight in Japan had the bombs not ended the war when they did.

At Oak Ridge, some 1,100 demonstrators carrying signs and beating drums marched to the gates of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, the largest peace protest ever in the city that was built in secrecy during World War II. The Y-12 plant supplied uranium for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and continues to make parts for every warhead in this country's nuclear arsenal.

The protesters rang a small temple bell and placed paper cranes on Y-12's barbed-wire fence. Two small flocks of Canada geese flew over in V-formation as the demonstrators paused for two minutes of silence at 8:15 a.m., the moment the bomb exploded over Hiroshima.

Buddhist monk Gyoshu Utsumi, a native of Japan who walked some 300 miles to Oak Ridge from the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., for the occasion, said Hiroshima holds unique significance, particularly to the Japanese.

"This is unacceptable for every human being, not only for us. We cannot let this experience repeat under any circumstances," Utsumi said.

The demonstrators also read the names of 67 Oak Ridge scientists who petitioned President Truman in July 1945 to not "resort to the use of atomic bombs."

"Those of us who live here have a special, maybe accidental, responsibility to think about the hard sides of these questions," said Fran Ansley, a University of Tennessee law professor.

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