Beyond Nuclear International

Fighting for life in the “place of death”

Traditional owners won’t give up 40-year opposition to Yeelirrie uranium mine

By Linda Pentz Gunter

In the local Aboriginal language, the name Yeelirrie means to weep or mourn. It is referred to as a “place of death.” Yeelirrie is on Tjiwarl Native Title lands in Western Australia, where it has long been faithfully protected by Aboriginal traditional owners. The Seven Sisters Dreaming songline is there. It is home to many important cultural sites. And for 40 years, due to resolute indigenous opposition, and thousands of community submissions of protest, it had been spared plans by the Canadian mining company, Cameco, to plunder it for uranium.

The earth guardians know that such a desecration would cause the extinction of multiple species of subterranean fauna. It would release death. It would destroy Yeelirrie.

Now the fate of those tiny creatures hangs in the balance, their future in the hands of three brave women, backed by environmental organizations, after the outgoing Western Australian government decided to allow the Yeelirrie uranium mine project to go forward.

Read More

The wind that sings through the spinifex grass

A walk with Australian Traditional Owners to preserve the land from uranium mining

Over recent years many hundreds of people have visited the proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine site in Western Australia, walking with Traditional Owners to support the local opposition to the mine. The first Walkatjurra Walkabout was held in 2011 – a walk from Wiluna to Perth over three months. The walk was to demonstrate the opposition to uranium mining but had many other positive impacts in the local community. Smaller walks have been held every year since 2011 from Wiluna to Leonora via the proposed uranium mine at Yeelirrie. The walks are led by the Walkatjurra rangers from Leonora and include people from across Australia and around the world including participants from the US, Taiwan, Japan, France, Lapland, Greece and England. Marcus Atkinson of Footprints for Peace, describes the experience of the Walkabout currently in progress.

By Marcus Atkinson

The Walkatjurra Walkabout is a month-long 250 km walk through the Western Australia Goldfields, in support of Traditional Owners to protect country and stop uranium mining despite freezing overnight temperatures and long hot days.

During an early stop, a group of 55 people gathered at the gates of Yeelirrie to support Traditional Owners, Aunty Shirley and Lizzie Wonyabong and Vicky Abdhullah in the 40-year struggle to stop the proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine. The three women have shared stories of the area where they and their families grew up and the connection they have to this land. As we walk, they show us the bush tucker, the plants used for medicine, and the plants used for other purposes. We listen, we learn, and together we enjoy the beauty of this land.

Walkabout 3

A group of walkers gathers to listen to Traditional Owners

Read More

Did a tweet about women’s rights just make the world safer?

Canada may have unintentionally killed Westinghouse nuclear deal with Saudis

By Henry Sokolski and Victor Gilinsky

In the latest you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up event, Saudi Arabia’s furious campaign of economic retaliation against Canada — in response to Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland’s criticism of the arrest of Saudi women’s rights activists — threatens to dash Westinghouse’s hopes for a lucrative nuclear deal with the Saudis. And, ironically, it may help to preserve tough rules on nuclear exports (“gold standard”) that the Saudi deal might otherwise scuttle.

On Aug. 7, the Saudis recalled their ambassador and expelled Canada’s ambassador, canceled flights to and from Canada, ordered Saudi students and even Saudis in Canadian hospitals to leave Canada, ordered the immediate sale of Saudi-owned Canadian assets “no matter the cost,” and — what is most important for our story — suspended all new business with Canada.

C Tweet slider

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, tweeted about women’s rights in Saudia Arabia. Now that country is tossing out everything — and everyone — Candian including, maybe, a nuclear power deal.

Read More

Urgent petition to save nuclear disarmament summit

Pro-nuclear forces want to cancel event aimed at nuclear abolition

From the Basel Peace Office

In less then two months the United Nations General Assembly will decide whether to hold the UN High-Level Conference (Summit) on Nuclear Disarmament, which has been planned for five years, or to yield to the pressure from pro-nuclear forces and cancel the event.

You can help keep the UN on track for nuclear abolition.

  1. Sign the Avaaz petition United Nations: Step up for nuclear abolition;
  2. Forward the petition to your networks;
  3. Send a letter to your government (Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, UN Ambassador).

Read More

Did bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki save lives?

The question goes to the heart of the debate about the utility of nuclear weapons and the rationale for keeping them

By Ward Wilson

Zachary Keck makes an able case that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved lives. He argues two main points: that Japan would not have surrendered immediately without the shock of the bomb (the Soviet declaration of war was not enough), and secondly that the limited use of nuclear weapons during World War II created a taboo that prevented a larger use during the Cold War. Both of these arguments are plausible but, I think, wrong. This is not just a question of 70 year-old history. This goes to the heart of the debate about the utility of nuclear weapons and the rationale for keeping them. These are arguments, in other words, that matter.

Apples and Oranges

First, a preliminary point that is not essential, but is still worth mentioning. It is certainly true that many more people would have died had the Allies launched a full-scale invasion of Japan. Japan’s soldiers often fought fanatically. After all, out of 31,000 Japanese soldiers stationed on Saipan, only 921 were taken prisoner after the fighting there. But there is an important distinction that gets overlooked when you compare people killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki with people killed in an invasion of Japan. The casualties in an invasion of Japan would have been largely soldiers, the people killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were almost all civilians.


The Hiroshima bombing killed mostly civilians, not military personnel, an important distinction. (Photo: WikiCommons)

The distinction between those who fight for their country, and those who do not fight is one of the most important in war. Killing civilians isn’t morally equivalent to killing soldiers and comparisons like Keck’s have to be thrown out on moral grounds even before other things are considered. Of course, I have seen attempts to make the same point by arguing that killing 200,000 civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki prevented the deaths of many more civilians who were dying as a result of harsh Japanese rule in the occupied territories in China, Burma, Philippines, and the rest. In other words comparing civilian lives taken for civilian lives saved. This is a more morally plausible argument. But it also depends, as Keck’s argument depends, on the assumption that bombing Hiroshima mattered.

Read More

Nagasaki Hibakusha pass on experiences through traditional story-telling

All the people smelled of gunpowder, recalls bombing survivor

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima tends to grab the headlines. It was first. It killed more people. But on August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb, with a solid plutonium core, was dropped by the US on Nagasaki. Not originally the intended target, Nagasaki’s fate was sealed when cloud cover obscured Kokura. The bomb unleashed the equivalent force of 22,000 tons of TNT. Today, some of the survivors of the horror in Nagasaki, known as Hibakusha, are using traditional narrative-driven performance art to tell their stories. This article, from Kyodo, first appeared on March 16, 2018.


A pair of atomic bomb survivors from Nagasaki have been passing on their experiences using traditional storytelling techniques, as part of efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Hiroshi Suenaga, 82, a survivor of the 1945 U.S. attack on the city, has documented survivors’ stories using kamishibai (paper drama) — a form of narrative-driven performance art that uses paper picture boards. He has put on shows at elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan.

His first kamishibai, titled “No More Hibakusha,” is about the life of activist Senji Yamaguchi, who died in July 2013 at age 82.

A leading figure in Japan’s anti-nuclear arms movement, Yamaguchi served as chairman of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations for nearly three decades through 2010.

The kamishibai highlights when Suenaga became the first survivor to speak at a United Nations session on disarmament, in 1982.

In one scene, Yamaguchi shouts “No more hibakusha!” during his speech, while showing a photo of himself with severe scarring on his face and body — from the massive burns he suffered as a 14-year-old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945.

By Aki Sato_Kamishibai_Performer_In_Japan

A traditional Kamishibai performer in Japan. (Photo: Aki Sato. Wikicommons.)

Read More