PAYING HOMAGE TO VICTIMS OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI
By Dr Arun Mitra
The world could never imagine the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945 respectively. The two cities were left with over 2 lakh people dead and several times more injured. The effects continued for long as a result of radiation leakage from these bombs which caused acute radiation sickness in the form of burns and bleeding from various organs of the body. The chronic effects of the radiation led to anomalies in the next generation born to the people who survived the catastrophe. Dr Marcel Junod, first foreigner from Red Cross to reach there moved around the blighted city, pieced together what had happened from various first-hand accounts:
… At about 8.15 a.m., when the inhabitants were going to work, a sudden blinding light, pink and white, appeared in the sky; this was accompanied by a sort of shudder, followed almost immediately by suffocating heat and a blast-wave sweeping away everything in its path. When we visited the ruined station in Hiroshima, the hands of the clock had stopped at this historic moment, 8.15…
…In a few seconds … thousands of human beings in the streets and gardens in the town center, struck by a wave of intense heat, died like flies. Others lay writhing like worms, atrociously burned. All private houses, warehouses, etc, disappeared as if swept away by a supernatural power. Trams were picked up and hurled yards away, as if they were weightless; trains were flung off the rails…
Junod notes the consequences of the bomb for Hiroshima’s medical corps: out of 300 doctors, 270 died or were injured; out of 1,780 nurses, 1,654 perished or were injured. He ends with an appeal for the bomb to be banned outright, just as poison gas was outlawed in the aftermath of the First World War.
A recent study done by Dr Ira Helfand shows that even a limited nuclear war using 100 Hiroshima size nuclear bombs would lead to nuclear winter and failure of crops globally. This would put two billion people at risk of starvation and death. The poor countries will be affected more and poor people in these countries will be the worst sufferers.
Doctors around the globe have been warning about these disasters time and again. Commenting on the unilateral withdrawal by the US President from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the Physicians for Social Responsibility USA said that ‘this has turned back the clock to a dangerous era of cold war. This vital landmark treaty entered into force during the Cold War, at the height of elevated tensions between the United States and Russia. As a result of this treaty over 2,600 intermediate-range missiles were eliminated by the two major nuclear powers. This treaty played a critical role in ending the Cold War, and it increased pressure on both countries to reduce their arsenals. Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty would set a devastating precedent for all nuclear armed countries to renege on their disarmament responsibilities’.
The Military Industrial Complex (MIC) continues to act contrary to people’s desire to live. Paul Rogers in his article “a winnable nuclear war: Trump revives his generals’ dreams” published in Open Democracy 25 July 2019 has quoted the statement of President Trump ‘If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I would win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people. Does that make sense to you? Reinforcing the comment, he added: I have plans on Afghanistan that, if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth, it would be over literally in 10 days. I don’t want to go that route’.
Several commentators view it as the use of nuclear weapons, Rogers says. The idea of fighting ‘small nuclear wars in far – off places’ has been feature of US nuclear planning. Soon after the end of the Cold War, there were studies about the potential value of small nuclear weapons in conflicts that might fall well short of world-wide war. Such ideas give a dreadful shiver when we look at the scenario that engulfed post atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The only hope is that the world community understands this danger. That is why despite several pressures, blackmails, threats the countries of the world voted in the UN General Assembly on July 7, 2017 with 122 votes in favour and only one against the resolution declaring the nuclear weapons as illegal. The treaty prohibits development, testing, production, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, transfer directly or indirectly, receive the transfer nuclear explosive devices directly or indirectly, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. It also prohibits to allow any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control. This is an opportunity to abolish nearly 17000 nuclear weapons that still present on earth. The non-nuclear countries should take lead and impress upon the nuclear weapons possessing countries to join the treaty and make nuclear weapons a thing only of history. (IPA Service)