Report of Aug. 9, 2019 Hiroshima and Nagasaki Commemoration White House Witness

Dear Friends, 

Some 40 peacemakers, representing about a dozen religious communities, held a special Hiroshima and Nagasaki Commemoration Prayer Service of Repentance outside the White House from Noon-1:00 p.m. today, the 74th anniversary of the U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki.

We were honored to have with us Ms. Michiko Kodama, who, at age 7, experienced the Hiroshima atomic bombing. At 82, she is now the Assistant Secretary General of the Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.

Here is an excerpt of the moving and harrowing testimony, Ms. Kodoma offered during the prayer service of repentance: 

“On Aug. 6, 1945 I was seven years old, a second grader in primary school of Hiroshima. I was inside the wooden school building. Suddenly I felt a blinding flash. The next moment, the ceiling of the building collapsed and sharp splinters of windowpanes flew all around. On my way home, carried on the back of my father who came to the school to find me, I witnessed hell on earth. I saw a man with his skin burned heavily, peeling and dangling. A mother with heavy burns carrying a baby, which was burned black and looking like charcoal. Others with their eyeballs pooped out or holding their protruding intestines in their hands frantically ran around, trying to escape. 

The atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6-9 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9 instantly killed so many people, and those who barely survived those days would eventually die one after another from the delayed effects of radiation. The atomic bombs did not allow the Hibakusha either to die or live as humans.

The Hibakusha who miraculously lived out those days had to suffer from survivors guilt and hellish scenes, sounds, voices and smells burned in their mind, while struggling to make a living and facing prejudice and discrimination from the world.. Hibakusha’s suffering is deep and still persisting. Even after 74 years, “that day” will continue to haunt them. I feel deep regret that I lost my parents, two younger brothers and even my daughter.

So that no one in the world should ever experience that hell on earth, the Hibakusha have traveled around the world to witness the damage and aftereffects of the atomic bombing, appealing, “No More Hibikusha”…and “Abolish nuclear weapons.” 

Our appeals seem to have reached the international community. The “unacceptable suffering and damage” caused by the use of nuclear weapons and the “intolerable damage from the A-bomb” have been accepted widely. This current eventually bore fruit at the U.N Conference which adopted the “Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” in July 2017… In order to protect the planet without wars for our future generations, let’s work together to abolish nuclear weapons.”

After Ms. Kodama spoke red roses were placed on a dozen photos of the A-Bomb victims and destroyed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were displayed on the street in front of the White House. These photos, along with other signs and banners, formed a makeshift shrine to the victims. Then Ms. Kodama was presented with a dozen white roses. This was followed by the gathered community reading an Apology Petition to the people Japan. 

Below is the program for the rest of the prayer service, which includes the Apology Petition.  Also please see the excellent photos that were taken by Scott Wright.

Today is also the anniversaries of the martrydom of St. Edith Stein and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter. We call them into our presence today and give thanks to God for their courageous Gospel witness! 

In the name of God who commands us to love and not to kill, and to beat all our weapons into plowshares; in the name of all nuclear victims and the Hibakusha; in the name of the children and future generations; in the name our sacred earth and all creation, let us redouble our efforts to ensure that the mortal sin of nuclear weapons being used never happens again!

With hope for a disarmed world,

Art

(more…)

Published in: on August 10, 2019 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of August 6 Hiroshima Commemoration Witness at Pentagon — Peacemakers Hold a Liturgy of Repentance and Resistance–Two Risk Arrest But Are Not Arrested– NCR Article by Art

SHADOW ON THE ROCK 

by Daniel Berrigan, SJ

At Hiroshima there’s a museum 

and outside that museum there’s a rock, 

and on that rock there’s a shadow. 

That shadow is all that remains 

of the human being who stood there on August 6, 1945 

when the nuclear age began. 

In the most real sense of the word, 

that is the choice before us. 

We shall either end war and the nuclear arms race now in this generation,

or we will become Shadows On the Rock. 

 

Dear Friends,

Today, August 6 (the feast of Transfiguration), from 7:30-8:30 AM 10 peace and justice makers from the faith-based peace community in D.C., Virginia and Maryland, held a prayer witness of repentance at the Pentagon to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. This witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. 

We gathered for our Liturgy of Repentance in the Pentagon police designated protest zone which is located in an enclosed space behind a bicycle fence on the southeast corner of the Pentagon near the south parking lot. As hundreds of civilian and military workers streamed into the Pentagon, they saw our sign and large banner: “U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima, August, 6, 1945—Repent,” and: “Remembering the Pain, Repenting the Sin, Reclaiming the Future—Aug. 6-9 Hiroshima & Nagasaki.” The banner also depicted a drawing of an A-Bomb child victim.  Powerful, harrowing photos of Hiroshima victims and the destruction of Hiroshima were also displayed. 

The prayer service began with a statement/prayer which Marie Dennis and I offered (see below). We all then read the “Apology Petition” to the people of Japan that was shared and presented three years ago to Mr. Mimaki, a Hiroshima Hibakusha, during our August 6, 2016 White House commemoration witness. Over 700 people signed the petition. At the conclusion of this petition I sang the A-Bomb Survivors song. 

Dan Moriarty then read the Gospel account of the transfiguration of Jesus, which was followed by Jack McHale and Ken Cooper offering a Litany of Repentance and community prayers. Malachy Kilbride read Dan Berrigan’s poem: “Shadow on the Rock.”  We then sang “I Come and Stand.”  

At about 8:10, to mark the time of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Malachy Kilbride and I walked outside the designated protest zone to the Pentagon sidewalk holding a photo of the destroyed city of Hiroshima with the caption “NO MORE HIROSHIMAS,” and a sign that said: “U.S.–RATIFY THE U.N. TREATY TO PROHIBIT NUCLEAR WEAPONS NOW!”  As we knelt in silence, Pentagon workers and soldiers walked by us. Rev. Chuck Booker led a prayer and song during this time from the designated protest area. To our surprise the police on duty, whom we had exchanged friendly greetings before the vigil and who remarked that our numbers were small, kept close watch over us from several yards away. But they never approached us to instruct us to return to the designated protest area or face arrest. This was very unusual as almost always, with several exceptions, Pentagon police quickly arrest peacemakers who witness outside the designated protest zone. After 20 minutes, it became clear that the police, for reasons unknown,  were not going to arrest us. So Malachy and I rejoined the others for a closing circle. 

In short, the intent of this witness is to remember the victims, to uphold and proclaim God’s command, “Thou shalt not kill” and those International laws and treaties which prohibit nuclear weapons, not to break the law. We act to prevent a crime, not to commit a crime. We demand that the powers that be cease its immoral and criminal nuclear war preparations, uphold God’s law, ratify the U.N. Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons and abolish war and all weapons of war! The time is now to heed the urgent appeal of the Hibakusha (A-Bomb Survivors):

Humankind can’t coexist with nuclear weapons!”

At this time, as we witness in solidarity with people around the world calling for nuclear abolition, we remember in a special way the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who will have an important pre-trial court hearing in the U.S. District Court in Brunswick, Georgia tomorrow, Aug. 7.  The hearing will included the KBP7 offering oral arguments regarding why they should be allowed to use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in their defense. The KBP7 face 25 years in prison for their April 4, 2018 plowshares witness to disarm the Trident nuclear submarine program at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia. For more info see: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/

For those who are local, please join us on Friday, August 9th from Noon – 1:00 PM, where there will be a Prayer Service of Repentance outside the White House to commemorate the U.S. nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and to call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. We have invited a Hiroshima survivor to join with us for this witness. Due to construction of the new scandalous $64 million White House fence being constructed, we will meet on the north side of the White House on Pennsylvania Ave.–across from Lafayette Park–to the left of the fenced off construction area as you face the White House. 

Co-Sponsors for the August 6-9 commemoration witness include: Pax Christi Metro-DC, Pax Christi USA, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Sisters of MercyInstitute Justice Team, Franciscan Action Network, Assisi Community, Jonah House, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd–U.S. Provinces, Conference of Major Superiors of Men–Justice and Peace, Leadership Conference of Women Religious–Social Mission

Finally, the National Catholic Reporter published today a piece I wrote to commemorate the Aug. 6-9 U.S. nuclear bombings of Japan. Please see:  https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/remember-repent-resist-74-years-bombing-hiroshima-and-nagasaki

With hope for a disarmed world,

Art

HiroshimaCommemoration2019


Opening Statement/Prayer at Aug. 6th Pentagon Prayer of Repentance

Response: We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now 

Good Morning to all who work here at the Pentagon. We, members of the Dorothy Catholic Worker and other religious communities, come to the Pentagon in a spirit of Gospel nonviolence, to commemorate the U.S. nuclear bombings of Japan, to repent the nuclear sin and to  create a world without weapons of mass murder and war. 

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

Thomas Merton, in his “Original Child Bomb,” describes the firepower, death and destruction that was unleashed on Hiroshima:”The bomb exploded within 100 feet of the aiming point. The fireball was 18,000 feet across. The temperature at the center of the fireball was 100,000,000 degrees. The people who were near the center became nothing. The whole city was blown to bits and the ruins all caught fire instantly everywhere, burning briskly.  70,000 people were killed right away or died within a few hours. Those who did not die at once suffered great pain.”

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

The powers that be want us to believe that nuclear weapons were used to save American lives and end WWII. This is a fallacy! Both General Eisenhower, and Admiral Leahy, head of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, opposed using the atomic bomb. They declared that Japan was already defeated and on the verge of surrender and, as Eisenhower stated, “that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary” and “no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

According to Gar Alperovitz, in his compelling book, Atomic Diplomacy, nuclear weapons were used against the Japanese primarily for two reasons: “first, the U.S. wanted to hasten its victory over Japan without the aid of the Russians, who were about to enter the war; second, and most importantly, President Truman intended to threaten the Russians and warn them not to challenge U.S. plans for organizing the postwar world.”

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

The U.S. has never repented for the use of these barbarous weapons of indiscriminate mass murder. The violence unleashed at Hiroshima set in motion a trajectory of unrelenting violence by the U.S. in the wars of aggression that it has waged over the last seven decades in many countries, claiming untold lives. Moreover, the U.S. has continued to build even deadlier weapons which endanger all of creation. Beginning with the Manhattan Project in 1940, the U.S. has spent over $10 trillion on its nuclear weapons program. Today the U.S. possess over 6,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are on hair-trigger alert, and proposes to spend an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize its existing nuclear arsenal. This includes the W76-2 Trident nuclear warhead, which is designed to carry a relatively small destructive payload of five kilotons, far less than the 100 kiloton thermonuclear warheads with which Trident missiles are currently armed. This reduction fulfills the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility,” as outlined in the Pentagon’s new nuclear war doctrine titled “Nuclear Operations.” This deadly venture not only endangers the world but represents a direct theft from the poor of our nation and world. 

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has turned its “Doomsday Clock” to 2 minutes before midnight to signify the perilous situation facing the world due to the dangers of nuclear war and the climate crisis. This peril has been exacerbated by contradictory and belligerent comments by a U.S. president who has threatened to attack Iran, as well as by the U.S. conducting a sub-critical nuclear test in February, and withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal and the INF Treaty with Russia. As a leading nuclear superpower, the U.S. practices a double standard by calling on other nations to disarm while, at the same time, it refuses to disarm and instead is rapidly expanding its own arsenal.

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

On July 7, 2017, at the conclusion of a special “UN Conference To Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons,” 122 countries voted in favor of historic treaty to legally prohibit nuclear weapons. To date 23 countries have ratified it. The “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” bans nuclear weapons and establishes a framework for the elimination of nuclear weapons programs – including warheads, materials, delivery systems and facilities. We call on the U.S., the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, to endorse this treaty and to lead the way to total worldwide nuclear disarmament. 

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

Pope Francis declared: “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned… Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family…The total elimination of nuclear weapons is “both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative” of our time.  

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

If it is wrong to possess nuclear weapons then it is wrong to use them under any circumstance. This means that any one in the military chain of command must refuse orders to ever use these or other similar murderous weapons. 

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

Today, we witness in solidarity with all who are holding commemoration actions and events during Aug. 6-9, including in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as at nuclear weapons facilities throughout the U.S. We also remember in a special way the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who will have a pre-trial court hearing in the U.S. District Court in Brunswick, GA on Aug. 7. The KBP7 face 25 years in prison for their April 4, 2018 plowshares witness to disarm the Trident submarine program at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia. 

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

The A-Bomb Survivors (Hibakusha) plead to the world: “Humankind can’t coexist with nuclear weapons.” We invite all Pentagon workers–military and civilian–to join with us and all those worldwide who are working to abolish nuclear weapons. May the mortal sin of using nuclear weapons never be repeated again! 

We Repent for the Nuclear Sin-Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now

Published in: on August 6, 2019 at 8:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Special Invitation to Nonviolent Witness Commemorating the 74th Anniversary of the U.S. Nuclear Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Pentagon and White House on Aug. 6 & 9, 2019

 

Dear Friends,

This is a special invitation to join with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and Co-Sponsors Pax Christi Metro-DC, Pax Christi USA, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team, Franciscan Action Network, Assisi Community, Jonah House, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd–U.S. Provinces, Conference of Major Superiors of Men–Justice and Peace, Leadership Conference of Women Religious–Social Mission, in two nonviolent acts of public witness at the Pentagon and White House to repent for the U.S. nuclear bombings of Japan on August 6 and August 9, 1945 and to call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons in the U.S. and worldwide. See details below.

We witness in solidarity with all who are holding commemoration actions and events during Aug. 6-9, including in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as at nuclear weapons facilities throughout the U.S. We also remember in a special way the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who will have a pre-trial court hearing in Brunswick, GA on Aug. 7, 2019 (see:https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/)

Please share this invitation with your network of friends. I hope you can join us for one or both of these actions.

With hope for a disarmed world,

Art Laffin

unnamed
“Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil”.
(Epitah at bottom of the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial Cenotaph and Peace Flame to remember all the victims of the atomic bombings)

 

 

August 6-9 Peace Actions Commemorating the U.S. Nuclear Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

When and Where:

Tuesday, August 6 @ Pentagon from 7:30-8:30 AM (August 6th is the anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the Feast of the Transfiguration. 8:15 AM is the time the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima). There will be a Prayer Service of Repentance and Nonviolent Witness at the Pentagon.

If you are coming by metro, please get off at Pentagon stop–Yellow Line. Take south exit coming out of metro. When you reach the top of escalator go left and then right on the sidewalk going away from building toward South Parking lot. Vigil site is down on the left side behind a bicycle fence. We will meet at fenced-off Designated Protest Area

Friday, August 9 @ White House from Noon – 1:00 PM: There will be a Prayer Service of Repentance outside the White House–Place: As you face the north side of the White House from Lafayette Park we will be on the street to the left of the fenced off area.  This is due to construction of new White House Fence.  A Hiroshima survivor has been invited to join us and we hope she will be able to come and offer a short message.

Why:

Seventy-four years ago, on August 6 and 9, the U.S. government did the “unspeakable: and dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thus beginning the Nuclear Age. As a result of these bombings, it is estimated that over 135,000 people died in Hiroshima and more than 64,000 in Nagasaki. In the subsequent months and years, many more have died from the effects of burns, radiation sickness and other injuries.

The U.S. has never repented for the use of these weapons of indiscriminate mass murder. Moreover, it has continued to build even deadlier weapons which endanger all of creation. Today the U.S. possess over 6,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are on hair-trigger alert, and proposes to spend an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize it’s existing nuclear arsenal. This includes the W76-2 Trident nuclear warhead, which is designed to carry a relatively small destructive payload of five kilotons, far less than the 100 kiloton thermonuclear warheads with which Trident missiles are currently armed. This reduction fulfills the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility.”  This deadly venture not only endangers the world but represents a direct theft from the poor of our nation and world.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has turned its “Doomsday Clock” to 2 minutes before midnight to signify the perilous situation facing the world due to the dangers of nuclear war and the climate crisis. This peril has been exacerbated by contradictory and belligerent comments by a U.S. president who has threatened to attack Iran, the U.S. conducting a sub-critical nuclear test in February and withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal and INF Treaty with Russia. As a leading nuclear superpower, the U.S. practices a double standard by calling on other nations to disarm while, at the same time, it refuses to disarm and instead is rapidly expanding its own arsenal.

On July 7, 2017, at the conclusion of a special “UN Conference To Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons,” 122 countries voted in favor of historic treaty to legally prohibit nuclear weapons. To date 23 countries have ratified it. The “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,”bans nuclear weapons and establishes a framework for the elimination of nuclear weapons programs – including warheads, materials, delivery systems and facilities. All of the countries that bear nuclear arms and many others that either come under their protection or host weapons on their soil boycotted the negotiations. We call on the U.S., the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, to endorse this treaty and to lead the way to total worldwide nuclear disarmament. (See:http://www.icanw.org/the-treaty)

Pope Francis declared: “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned…International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family…The total elimination of nuclear weapons is “both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative” of our time.

The A-Bomb Survivors (Hibakusha) plead to the world: “Humankind can’t coexist with nuclear weapons.”

Please join us!

For more info contact Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-360-6416,

artlaffin@hotmail.com

Published in: on July 19, 2019 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Clarification of Thought – Yakob Hagos

End the Crime of Torture!

Speaker: Yakob Hagos, Member of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC)

Date: Friday,  June 7, 2019 @ 7:30 p.m.

Place: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 503 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, Washington, DC, 20010

Each June, human rights and faith organizations join together to mark “Torture Awareness Month” because on June 26, 1987, the nations of the world took a major step against the immoral practice of torture. On that day, the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment entered into force and the United Nations later declared June 26th the “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.”

Yakob Hagos, a teacher and small business owner from Eritrea, a small country in northeast Africa, will share his experience as a torture survivor. Like everyone else in Eritrea, he was forced by the government to enter a military training camp called “Sawa” where men and women are required to serve for an indefinite period of time, sometimes more than 20 years. It was extremely difficult for him to participate in the military exercises because his left leg is paralyzed from polio. Yakob was falsely accused of being part of an opposition political group. He was interrogated and beaten repeatedly because he had graduated from college, asked questions and refused to spy on customers who used his Internet Cafe. He finally managed to escape the country and arrived in the United States in April 2016. Yakob is now an Educational Assistant with the Washington DC public schools, a translator and a member of TASSC.

The mission of TASSC, the only organization founded by and for torture survivors, is to end the practice of torture wherever it occurs and to empower survivors, their families and communities wherever they are. TASSC stands in solidarity with all immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of torture around the world as it tirelessly works for the abolition of torture. For more info about TASSC and how you can support its annual June Survivors Week from June 26-29, please see: www.tassc.org.

Please join us!

For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649, artlaffin@hotmail.com

Published in: on May 24, 2019 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Clarification of Thought Talk by Paki Wieland

Iran: Looking Deeply at Iran in the Context of U.S. Foreign Policy 
 
Speaker: Paki Wieland

Date: Friday, May 3, 2019 @ 7:30 p.m.

Place: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 503 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, Washington, DC, 20010

The saber rattlers in the current administration can put fear in the hearts of everyone from the U.S. to Iran. Located by Washington in the original “axis of evil,” Iran remains in the crosshair of those saber rattlers. Paki recently visited Iran on a CODEPINK delegation. She will share her experiences and invite discussion of the various ways we confront the U.S. Empire.
Paki, a long-time peace and justice activist, is a friend of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. She acts from a spirituality steeped in the Catholic faith which today produces Buddhist flowering. She is currently the host at the Washington, D.C. Codepink house, where she offers hospitality modeled on the CW tradition.

Please join us!

For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649, artlaffin@hotmail.com 

Published in: on April 26, 2019 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment