Report on the Joseph Gerson tour
The 2018 Hiroshima Day celebration was planned to be dominated by the presence of a powerful and energetic speaker from overseas so that some media discussion of nuclear disarmament could take place. Joseph Gerson fitted the bill so we set about encouraging him to come to Australia. He was delayed due to his commitments in Hiroshima and Nagasaki so we put our events back to August 11.
Joseph has experience over many years in the peace movement, and is currently the Vice-President of the International Peace Bureau and President of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security.
The Sydney Hiroshima Day Committee is most grateful for the financial support received from the NSW Quakers and PND. Their donations were sufficient to cover internal travel and living expenses. The HDC paid the international flights.
Financially we raised enough money to continue our work another year! At present our balance is near $5,000.
The rally in Sydney was about the same size as in previous years but had the most powerful platform. We had an overseas speaker of some standing and a double Nobel peace prize winner in Prof Tilman Ruff from ICAN.
The speeches were really of a high quality and many participants expressed their gratitude to the speakers and to us for organising it.
Joseph spoke at a dinner and at a small demo in Brisbane
report from organisers David Purnell and Kathryn Kelly, IPAN (ACT)
Joseph Gerson visited Canberra from 12-14 August 2018. On 13 August he met with ALP Senator Lisa Singh, Greens Senators Peter Whish-Wilson and Janet Rice, and ALP MP Sharon Claydon, and several staff/advisers at Parliament House. He supported their efforts to get Australia to change its position, and to sign and ratify the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty passed by the UN in 2017 by a large majority (122 nations). He stressed the critical importance of reversing the nuclear arms race at a time when threats to use nuclear weapons are greater than ever.
Later in the day he spoke at the ANU College of Law to a public meeting, attended by around 30 people, outlining the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the failure of the nuclear weapons states to live up to their promise to move towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, in response to other nations foregoing acquiring nuclear weapons. He urged us to work for Australia (as a middle power and part of the US ‘nuclear umbrella’) to support the ban treaty, as an example to other nations (eg NATO countries) that have not already signed.
In the evening Joseph was welcomed to a shared meal at the Canberra Quaker Meeting House by around 25 Quakers and others. He spoke further about the dangers posed to the world by nuclear weapons as well as climate change, and gave examples of work done to promote dialogue across ideological and national divides.
It was inspiring to have Joseph among us, able to share such a wide range of knowledge and commitment to peacemaking.
report from Romina Beitseen, CICD
Joseph Gerson visited Melbourne from 14-16 August 2018 as guest of the CICD with the sponsorship of IPAN Victoria, Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church, Pax Christi and Quakers.
Joseph arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday 14 August at 12.00 noon. We had time to have a quick look at the Queen Victoria Market and lunch before heading to a 2.30 pm meeting with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
The meeting was attended by around 14 people. Joseph reported on his attendance at the 2018 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Japan. He said for the last 34 years he has been attending the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
He briefly spoke about his involvement over many years in the peace movement. He also reported on his visit to Brisbane and Canberra and his meeting with Labour and Greens members of Parliament. He said he supports their efforts to get Australia to change its position, and to sign and ratify the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty passed by the UN in 2017.
Joseph stressed the importance of reversing the nuclear arms race by campaigning and lobbying the politicians in particular around time of elections. He said 75% of ALP MP’s have signed a letter in support of the UN Treaty banning nuclear weapons.
Later in the day he met with some of the CICD committee members.
This was followed by a social dinner attended by 14 people including Nic McClellan who is a correspondent for Islands Business magazine in Fiji, and for other regional media, and is an associate researcher with the School of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities at Swinburne University of Technology, Jacques Boulet, Interdependent Researcher General Editor at New Community Quarterly Director Borderlands Co-operative, Hans Baer, an anthropologist and development studies specialist at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Melbourne Unitarian Church, Joan Coxsedge the first Labor woman to be elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in July 1979, anti-Vietnam War activist, Save our Sons campaigner, artist, peace activist and CICD member. John Speight, CICD executive Chairperson, Len Cooper, executive vice chairperson, Andrew Irving, vice chairperson, Romina Beitseen CICD Secretary, and a number of CICD committee members.
Joseph briefly spoke about his trip in Japan and the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the failure of the nuclear weapons states to live up to their promise to support the ban treaty. He said we have a lot to do to get Australian to support the ban treaty. Joseph was able to share a wide range of knowledge and history of peace movement.
On Wednesday 15 August Joseph spent an hour at the community radio station 3CR. Here Romina Beitseen interviewed him for the CICD radio program Alternative News and Jan Bartlett interviewed him for Tuesday Hometime. Joseph was generous in answering questions about himself and the work he has been and is involved with and his opinion on US wars and aggression around the world.
Joseph met with Pax Christi and the Victorian Council of Churches members and friends at 11 am – there were about 13 people at the meeting. He spoke about the importance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted by the UN conference on July 7, 2017which marked a historic step forward towards a world without nuclear weapons. During the year since then, civil society movements, including Hibakusha, have joined forces with governments to support the treaty to make headway toward achieving the total abolition of nuclear weapons. There was a positive feedback from Pax Christi saying they had a very good conversation with Joseph which will, they hope, lead to ongoing contact.
This meeting was followed by Joseph enjoying a short tour to the Melbourne museum (First Peoples section). Following a visit to the CICD Hiroshima exhibition we shared a meal before the public meeting at 7 pm which was held at the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church and was attended by over 50 people.
Joseph spoke about the movement and political forces that are needed for change. He said the reason for accepting the invitation and coming such a long way is because Australia can play a central role both in helping to advance the nuclear prohibition treaty and also in doing so to help break the status quo in nuclear disarmament diplomacy. He spoke about the importance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty which is one of the three most important treaties of the 20th Century. He explained that North Korea has nuclear weapons because of repeated threats to attack North Korea with nuclear weapons.
Joseph appealed to the audience to do education work and to campaign. He we can make a difference. Governments are not going to deliver us a nuclear free world – the only way to get it is from the people’s power from below – we have to exert the pressure to move governments.
Dr Joseph’s contribution was outstanding. He shared a wide range of knowledge and commitment to peacemaking.
Back to Sydney
Back in Sydney Joseph addressed a function in Ashfield hosted by the Quakers. About 30 people were present and they included mainly Quakers and some religious leaders.
Joseph shared the platform with Professor Jake Lynch and Nick Deane. There was particular interest in his point about President Trump’s inconsistency — reassuring about North Korea when he does not have an agreement and aggressive about Iran when he does have an agreement.
On Friday morning Joseph had time for sight seeing and lunch at Watsons Bay before attending a 3 pm round table discussion hosted by PND.
The visit ended with a Lebanese dinner much enjoyed by all.
- The Committee
It was a great rally in Sydney and there some positives that we should take away with us. So often at different meetings there is constant moaning about how hard it is to get people out about nuclear weapons. Well this little committee did it!
- We contributed to the anti-nuclear the campaigns in Sydney, Brisbane, ACT and Melbourne.
- We live fed the event through facebook and got nearly 900 hits
- We sent social tweets to Government and Opposition representatives
- We distributed about 200 postcards to Malcolm Turnbull about nuclear disarmament.
- We have made a great impact on efforts to get the ban treaty signed..
The march through the crowded shopping streets of Sydney gained us many thumbs up.
- To improve
- We need to invite more people onto the committee and to advertise the date, venue and time of the meetings.
- We should be better at sharing the jobs – too much is done by one or two
- Publicity is our big fall down issue
- Our affiliated groups do not contribute talent and energy but leave it all to a small donation. For example WILPF was working hard on the bike ride to Canberra while the HDC was largely ignored.)
- Social media is improving our exposure but not our attendance.
- The wider debate
- The debate has to heat up
- We sparked some interest
- Our live feed caught some interest
- The media is terrible
- The growing militarism of our society – commented on by Joseph Gerson.