Citizens calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons will gather in Oak Ridge on Saturday, August 4, at 10:30 a.m. at Alvin K. Bissell Park to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945 and to call for the United States to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted in July 2017 by 122 nations, a press release said.
The Oak Ridge events on August 4 are sponsored by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, and they will include music and political theater as well as a report on ongoing nuclear weapons production activities at Y-12, the press release said.
“Y-12 represents the full circle in time,” said OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison. “The age of nuclear weapons started here, with the enrichment of the Little Boy bomb’s uranium. And it continues today, in the face of world condemnation, with the production of thermonuclear secondaries and plans for a new bomb production plant, the Uranium Processing Facility, which will continue to make nuclear bomb cores for decades to come.”
A rally for nuclear abolition will begin at 11 a.m. at Bissell Park, the press release said. The Emancipators will play, and the Catalystica Players will present a nuclear fable, the release said. At the conclusion of the rally, demonstrators will march to the Y-12 National Security Complex, where they will hang a banner on the fence surrounding the nuclear facility.
“We are calling for Y-12 to provide leadership to the world toward the elimination of nuclear weapons,” Hutchison said. “Oak Ridge is the only facility in the country with the authorized capacity to dismantle key nuclear weapons components, and we have a backlog of thousands of weapons waiting to be dismantled.”
The banner to be hung at Y-12 will stretch for nearly the length of a football field, conveying its message in a string of yellow “X”s, the press release said.
“The yellow X has a clear and direct message,” Hutchison said in the release. “It is a global symbol of anti-nuclear campaigners working for the abolition of nuclear weapons. For us, it is a call to Y-12 to transform its work of death into work of hope and life, to shift from bomb production to bomb dismantlement.”
All OREPA events are nonviolent in tone as well as action, the press release said. Everyone is welcome; drugs and alcohol are forbidden, the release said.
Among other activities, OREPA has annual events in Oak Ridge and Knoxville around the anniversary dates of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945, shortly before the end of World War II. Uranium for the Hiroshima bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” was enriched at Y-12. The annual OREPA events often trigger a debate about whether the bombs should have been used. Some argue that Japan attacked the United States first, and they say the bombs helped end the war and save lives. But others have raised questions about whether the use of the bombs was required to help end the war, and while calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, they have cited the death and destruction that the bombs can cause, among other concerns.
OREPA said the events in Oak Ridge on Saturday are part of a series of events being held across the country in the 73rd commemoration of the Hiroshima bombing.