|The March for PeaceFrom Helmand to Hiroshima|
by Maya Evans, writing from Japan
6th August 2018
I have just arrived in Hiroshima with a group of Japanese “Okinawa to Hiroshima peace walkers” who had spent nearly two months walking Japanese roads protesting U.S. militarism. At the same time that we were walking, an Afghan peace march that had set off in May was enduring 700km of Afghan roadsides, poorly shod, from Helmand province to Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul. Our march watched the progress of theirs with interest and awe. The unusual Afghan group had started off as 6 individuals, emerging out of a sit-in protest and hunger strike in the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah, after a suicide attack there created dozens of casualties. As they started walking their numbers soon swelled to 50 plus as the group braved roadside bombs, fighting between warring parties and exhaustion from desert walking during the strict fast month of Ramadan.
The Afghan march, which is believed to be the first of its kind, is asking for a long-term ceasefire between warring parties and the withdrawal of foreign troops. One peace walker, named Abdullah Malik Hamdard, felt that he had nothing to lose by joining the march. He said: “Everybody thinks they will be killed soon, the situation for those alive is miserable. If you don’t die in the war, the poverty caused by the war may kill you, which is why I think the only option left for me is to join the peace convoy.”
The Japanese peace walkers marched to specifically halt the construction of a U.S. airfield and port with an ammunition depot in Henoko, Okinawa, which will be accomplished by landfilling Oura Bay, a habitat for the dugong and unique coral hundreds of years old, but many more lives are endangered. Kamoshita Shonin, a peace walk organizer who lives in Okinawa, says: “People in mainland Japan do not hear about the extensive bombings by the U.S. in the Middle East and Afghanistan, they are told that the bases are a deterrent against North Korea and China, but the bases are not about protecting us, they are about invading other countries. This is why I organised the walk.” Sadly, the two unconnected marches shared one tragic cause as motivation.
Sign the petition to STOPdumping in the sea of Henoko, Okinawa for the construction of a new U.S. military airfield, port and ammunition depot.#WeLoveDugong #OceanIsLife
Oura bay is home to the dugong and coral which is hundreds of years old, U.S. Marines fly out of Okinawa to conflict zones around the world.Gimme shelter, mass removal of Afghan Asylum Seekers from Europeby Aisha Manier
Voice your protest at the complicit airline companies, tweet:
Swedish student Elin Errson stopped the deportation of an Afghan refugee last week on a Turkish Airlines flight
|From Helmand to Hiroshima, perspectives of a peace walker|
“Any politician considering the use of nuclear weapons should first visit the Hiroshima Memorial Museum, it is important for them to know what happens when they are used.”
|“All the marchers have suffered in this war, I have lost my sister, father and uncle in the conflict. My only wish and demand is stop this war and fighting.”|
|“People in mainland Japan do not hear about the extensive bombings by the U.S. in the Middle East and Afghanistan, they are told that the bases are a deterrent against North Korea and China, but the bases are not about protecting us, they are about invading other countries. This is why I organised the walk.”|
|“The spirit for peace is strengthening among the people day-by-day. We hope that the world would realize that Afghans want peace, Afghans want their rights to be ensured and that we have to decide how to reach to peace”.|
|“When the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, 140,000 people were immediately evaporated, one of the worst war crimes in history. Hiroshima should be the centre for learning humanity and compassion.”|
|“Everybody thinks they will be killed soon, I can be killed if I stay home or if I go to my shop, so I have decided it is much better to die for peace so the next generation of my family can enjoy peace.”|
The Afghan Peace Volunteers meet the Helmand Peace Convoy
|CAN AFGHANS CONVINCE US THAT THE METHOD OF WAR ISN’T EFFECTIVE?|
by Dr Hakim
2nd August 2018
Kahar was displaced from Helmand to Kabul where he attended the Borderfree Street Kids School run by the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Kahar had said, “I fled from war in Helmand, I want to live in Kabul or anywhere that is good.”
One of the APVs, Ghulam Hussein, asked the Helmand Peace Walkers:
“Are you eventually going to form an organization?”
Iqbal replied, “No, we want this to be a people’s movement. We won’t accept monetary support from any government or political group, and we don’t want power. When we’ve achieved peace, we will go back to what we were doing, farming, livestock keeping, teaching….”
That hot summer morning, in the tent, there was clear and beautiful evidence that “We are many.”
Both members of the People’s Peace Movement and the Afghan Peace Volunteersare calling on the people of the world to join them in solidarity.
Awake, arise, smile, walk!
Postcard from Hiroshima
(To be read out at the Hiroshima remembrance events)
Greetings from Hiroshima where I am currently accompanying a group of Japanese peace walkers. They started their 50 day pilgrimage from the island of Okinawa.
Hiroshima is the site of one of the worst war crimes ever committed. At 8.15am on the 6th August 1945 an Atomic bomb was released on the city and it became a living hell, 140,000 lives instantly evaporated. For that reason it is now a centre for peace and compassion, a beacon where people can learn about the importance of humanity. Hiroshima is a proud city which holds itself up to the rest of the world and says ‘never again’.
Currently I am ensconced on a hillside overlooking the city, the urban sprawl of modern apartments and sky scrapers built along a U.S. style grid system. Unlike other Japanese towns and cities I have walked through, here there are no old buildings. Today we walked around the city with our peace banner offering prayers of peace. Ground zero is now a thriving shopping mall, alive and buzzing with activity, it’s chilling to think it could potentially be reduced to rubble within seconds.
Along the walk I met the children of Hibakusha (people who survived the bomb), who talked of the trauma which carried through into their generation, the sicknesses and the nightmares of their parents. Others on the peace walk include a young brother and sister from the Native American Miccosukee (Panther) tribe, they talk of the trauma committed by the U.S. on their people. I am reminded of Los Alomos, Native American sacred land stolen by the U.S. Government and used to develop the atomic bomb.
Today Japan is still unwillingly central to war crimes, forced to accommodate U.S. military bases as part of their loosing legacy, there is an estimated 50,000 U.S. Marines currently in the country, often flying straight out of Japanese bases and into conflict zones.
73 year old walker Kenji Doi attended every step of the walk, his message is: “Any politician who thinks nuclear weapons are a good idea should visit Hiroshima”.