Abolition 2000 Youth Network releases new video interviews

Hi everyone,

On behalf of Youth Fusion – Abolition 2000 Youth Network, please allow me to invite you all to give a listen to our freshest Podcast Series: Nuclear Collateral Damage. This short series consists of 5 episodes, with each episode being a conversation between survivors of and experts on nuclear weapon testing. The whole series was produced by the wonderful Aigerim Seitenova as part of her internship with Youth Fusion.

For more information and to view all available episodes, please visit this link.

Thank you & Have a great day!

Vanda

Youth Fusion Co-Convener [abolition caucus] Youth Fusion’s New Podcast Series

Nuclear Collateral Damage: a message from the host

For the last couple of weeks, you might have seen a lot of activity from my end, hearing my voice as much as twice a week. Maybe some of you have been wondering: “Who is this person?!’’ occupying Youth Fusion’s social media. I hope by today’s reflection post, I will clarify some of the questions you might have pondered over. 

Youth Fusion has just recently launched a new podcast series called Nuclear Collateral Damage: Conversations with Survivors and Experts.  My name is Aigerim Seitenova, and I am the program host as well as  a Youth Fusion Program Assistant. This podcast is a result of the three months’ internship. 

My initial aim with this internship was to put the voices of survivors, activists and experts from countries affected by nuclear weapons testing at the center of a project and highlight the continuous injustice people from such contexts have been facing for many years.

About me

I come from Semey, formerly known as Semipalatinsk. I was born a little after the Soviet Union collapsed which marked not only the independence of our country but also the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site, which operated between 1949 and 1989.

Throughout 40 years, more than 400 nuclear weapons were tested at the Semipalatinsk test site. Of course, life in Semipalatinsk was not only defined by the nuclear testing – Semey residents try not to talk too much about the test site and its consequences, to instead emphasize the richness of our culture and the political stance of our people. Therefore, the younger generation knows less about our nuclear history because of the older generation’s hesitancy to  address the topic. As a result, proper reflection of this tragedy and nuclear legacy is yet to come. When I was at school we went to visit Semey anatomical museum which for us kids at the time was something exciting or fun to do, but which I now as a grownup understand as something that we should have been educated about and prepared to face to adequately reflect how it has always affected us, our relatives, neighbors, hometown and national fellows. Many of us have family members from regions especially affected by radiation, and discussing the nuclear legacy is far too often considered a taboo even in families experiencing their babies born with disabilities, cancer and other illnesses. 

Being a kid and a teenager from Semey, I never planned to be active in the nuclear disarmament field. I dreamt of being an international lawyer and at 17 I moved to another big city in Kazakhstan to pursue education and a career in international public law. When I moved there, in addition to all the other stress factors related to student life, one of the moments when I felt uncomfortable was when my peers after finding out about my hometown made comments such as: “Do you have a tail?!” or “Are you luminous at night because of radiation?!” and so on. These bullying comments made me angry since it minimized the suffering and sacrifice of many people from my hometown and regions close to Semey. Notably, it was mostly addressed to me and other female students by male students, something which highlights an underlying gendered impact as it was ‘easier to attack’ women like myself and make fun of us if we g0t ‘emotional’ about it. After several such occasions, I understood that education might change the situation I was in so that the generation after me would not have to face this type of comment, instead challenging the dominant narratives of people only living in fear or being exposed to insanely big amounts of radiation s, and telling alternative stories of resistance, strength, solidarity and freedom. 

At the end of the day, after 11 years, I have become a human rights lawyer who also learned how to respond to such ridiculous comments throughout all these years. For several years now I have also been active in the field of nuclear disarmament. Last year I learned a lot in general about nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation drawing on various sources, specifically focusing on nuclear testing programmes. I also strengthened my knowledge of the legal frameworks related to nuclear weapons and its kinship to human rights violations. 

These have been some intensive three months, but sharing this mission with a team of like-minded people  has made it worth it a million times over. This podcast project has a two-dimensional value to me: 1) as a human rights lawyer, I was interested in how governments responsible for human rights violations ensure to fulfill their obligations in terms of remediation post nuclear weapons testing; 2) given my position as a third generation of survivors of the tests conducted by the Soviet Union.

Insightful and personal conversations with  survivors and experts

There are five episodes in the podcast series: 

  1. Episode I with Tina and Livia Cordova, New Mexico, USA 
  2. Episode II with Miho Tanaka and Iku Nakamura, Japan
  3. Episode III with Dr Togzhan Kassenova and Yerdaulet Rakhmatulla, Kazakhstan 
  4. Episode IV with Ariana Tibon, Marshall Islands 
  5. Episode V with Mere Tuilau, Fiji 

All five episodes are different and unique. Guests who had the time to dedicate to our podcast made every minute worth it and helped me to stay focused on my main aim and objectives: to bring such voices to the center, to highlight intergenerational impacts and see how and why countries are failing to make just decisions for the improvement of people’s lives. One theme in particular connects  many of the episodes, namely that of looking at nuclear testing from a decolonial perspective highlighting the particular nature of nuclear colonialism and the abuse of power by Western countries. 

While conversing with our guests, I virtually traveled not only to the US, Marshall Islands, Fiji or Japan but I also traveled in time to see when, how and why the nuclear arms race began, including which major actors that initiated it and to what extent they acknowledge the destructive power of nuclear weapons today and how they justify the continued need for arms  despite sacrificing people and animal lives, ecosystems, the environment and our common future.

My conversations with our outstanding guests Tina and Livia Cordova, Miho Tanaka and Iku NakamuraDr Togzhan Kassenova and Yerdaulet RakhmatullaAriana Tibon, and Mere Tuilau, not only inspired me but – as trivial as it might sound – also made me understand that I am moving in the right direction even though at times it is hard to see the results of my work. Each of the guests’ work and activism made me think of how people are so committed to accomplishing common goals for a peaceful future. 

Each conversation led me to rethink my methods of work. For example the episode with Ariana Tibon from the Marshall Islands impressed me with the way that nuclear legacy education has been implemented  in schools, reflecting a highly holistic approach to education given its many aspects such as issues of forced displacement, testing period history, human rights violations, politics, geography etc. In my opinion, it is a great curriculum that I plan to read about in more detail very soon. 

The episode with Tina and Livia Cordova made me emotional since the interview was very personal to them as someone whose family members across different generations got affected by cancer from the day the Trinity test was conducted. People from New Mexico are still fighting to get compensation and healthcare assistance until this day, as RECA (The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act) does not cover them and moreover it would probably expire this July. 

The third episode of the podcast was equally emotional to me since it is about my hometown. Once again I had thoughts about my identity as Kazakh and as someone who was born near to the former nuclear test site. It made me think whether my people have received justice for their suffering.  Again, I personally think that justice has only been served partially and only as a result  of the transnational movement ‘Nevada-Semipalatinsk’, the efforts of activists, advocates and politicians at the beginning of our independence. 

Miho Tanaka and Iku Nakamura from the second episode, focusing on Japan, showed me how to be active in the nuclear disarmament field by engaging with parliamentarians and voters, for instance taking into account social media outreach. 

Last but not least, the fifth episode with Mere Tuilau from Fiji showed me the perspective of veterans who worked at the British nuclear test site. I learned how Fijian soldiers were treated differently in comparison with military staff from the UK. Still to this day they have not received compensation which in my opinion reiterates the UK’s failure to admit their wrongdoings and ensure a fairer decolonisation process. 

While working on the project, I learned new sets of skills such as how to edit podcasts or work closely with image and video editing platforms. 

In addition to collaborating with guests and researching each country’s nuclear legacy, one of the highlights of the internship was the Youth Fusion Team. Each member of Youth Fusion despite long distances and different time zones supported me in one way or another, making the experience of this internship one of being in a safe and equal environment. Being in a team of like-minded individuals where there is no ageism, pressure and more of a horizontal structure means a lot to me and my personal growth.

The podcast project is a collaborative work of so many people: each invited guest speaker, each member of the Youth Fusion team, every author of the different articles I read while preparing, online bloggers I watched to learn how to use different software, and most importantly, every survivor in the communities affected by nuclear tests, contributed to the development of this project. Without them, the project  would not have seen the light of day. Therefore, I am extremely grateful to everyone involved.

The last thing I want to say is that I have come to an understanding that making voices heard is definitely not an easy task, but it is something that with the effort of many people can be achieved. Nuclear abolition seems impossible to accomplish but I believe that with the effort of our and even younger generations added to  the tireless work of the activists and advocates of previous generations, there is great potential to succeed. For a lot of people, this may sound naive, but for me it is not only about a mere hope; it is about comprehensive and holistic steps and actions which have to be taken to revise strategies, create new ones and to try to continue the fight for justice and not give up. 

This podcast is about people, about tragic events, about history and lessons which have not been deliberately learned. And as I mentioned earlier, this podcast is also about resistance, the power of people, strength, relentless hope and decades of activism, and last but not least, it is about the solidarity which keeps the fight for justice alive. 

If you haven’t listened to the podcast series yet, make sure to visit this link 🙂 

Article by: Aigerim Seitenova 

May the month of May bring us the beginning of a viable, sustainable culture of peace for all humanity, for our Mother Earth and all her inhabitants. The feminine within each of us cries for an end of all war and violence, of poverty and destruction, of pain and bloodshed. Are we going to honour the spirit of Mother by putting an end to the drive for power over this Mother’s Day? Come join us as we make our voices heard once again as we walk and talk and share space on May 8th for the 39th annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.

An article to help understand the nuances of the International Criminal Court. Chris Hedges is a well respected journalist who does his research.

Hedges: The Lie of American Innocence by Moderator “Have a Nice Doomsday” / Orignal Illustration by Mr. FishBy Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPostThe branding of Vladimir Putin as a war criminal by Joe Biden, who lobbied for the Iraq war and staunchly supported the 20 years of carnage in the Middle East, is one more example of the hypocritical moral posturing sweeping across the United States. It is unclear how anyone would try Putin for war crimes since Russia, like the United States, does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But justice is not the point. Politicians like Biden, who do not accept responsibility for our well-documented war crimes, bolster their moral credentials by demonizing their adversaries. They know the chance of Putin facing justice is zero. And they know their chance of facing justice is the same.We know who our most recent war criminals are, among others: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, General Ricardo Sanchez, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Asst. Atty. Gen. Jay Bybee, former Dep. Asst. Atty. Gen. John Yoo, who set up the legal framework to authorize torture; the helicopter pilots who gunned down civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in the “Collateral Murder” video released by WikiLeaks. We have evidence of the crimes they committed.But, like Putin’s Russia, those who expose these crimes are silenced and persecuted. Julian Assange, even though he is not a US citizen and his WikiLeaks site is not a US-based publication, is charged under the US Espionage Act for making public numerous US war crimes. Assange, currently housed in a high security prison in London, is fighting a losing battle in the British courts to block his extradition to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison. One set of rules for Russia, another set of rules for the United States. Weeping crocodile tears for the Russian media, which is being heavily censored by Putin, while ignoring the plight of the most important publisher of our generation speaks volumes about how much the ruling class cares about press freedom and truth.If we demand justice for Ukrainians, as we should, we must also demand justice for the one million people killed — 400,000 of whom were noncombatants — by our invasions, occupations and aerial assaults in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. We must demand justice for those who were wounded, became sick or died because we destroyed hospitals and infrastructure. We must demand justice for the thousands of soldiers and marines who were killed, and many more who were wounded and are living with lifelong disabilities, in wars launched and sustained on lies. We must demand justice for the 38 million people who have been displaced or become refugees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria, a number that exceeds the total of all those displaced in all wars since 1900, apart from World War II, according to the Watson Institute for International & Public Affairs at Brown University. Tens of millions of people, who had no connection with the attacks of 9/11, were killed, wounded, lost their homes, and saw their lives and their families destroyed because of our war crimes. Who will cry out for them?Every effort to hold our war criminals accountable has been rebuffed by Congress, by the courts, by the media and by the two ruling political parties. The Center for Constitutional Rights, blocked from bringing cases in US courts against the architects of these preemptive wars, which are defined by post-Nuremberg laws as “criminal wars of aggression,” filed motions in German courts to hold US leaders to account for gross violations of the Geneva Convention, including the sanctioning of torture in black sites such as Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. Those who have the power to enforce the rule of law, to hold our war criminals to account, to atone for our war crimes, direct their moral outrage exclusively at Putin’s Russia. “Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, condemning Russia for attacking civilian sites, including a hospital, three schools and a boarding school for visually impaired children in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. “These incidents join a long list of attacks on civilian, not military locations, across Ukraine,” he said. Beth Van Schaack, an ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, will direct the effort at the State Department, Blinkin said, to “help international efforts to investigate war crimes and hold those responsible accountable.”This collective hypocrisy, based on the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, is accompanied by massive arms shipments to Ukraine. Fueling proxy wars was a specialty of the Cold War. We have returned to the script. If Ukrainians are heroic resistance fighters, what about Iraqis and Afghans, who fought as valiantly and as doggedly against a foreign power that was every bit as savage as Russia? Why weren’t they lionized? Why weren’t sanctions imposed on the United States? Why weren’t those who defended their countries from foreign invasion in the Middle East, including Palestinians under Israeli occupation, also provided with thousands of anti-tank weapons, anti-armor weapons, anti-aircraft weapons, helicopters, Switchblade or “Kamikaze” drones, hundreds of Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Javelin anti-tank missiles, machine guns and millions of rounds of ammunition? Why didn’t Congress rush through a $13.6 billion package to provide military and humanitarian assistance, on top of the $1.2 billion already provided to the Ukrainian military, for them?Well, we know why. Our war crimes don’t count, and neither do the victims of our war crimes. And this hypocrisy makes a rules-based world, one that abides by international law, impossible.This hypocrisy is not new. There is no moral difference between the saturation bombing the US carried out on civilian populations since World War II, including in Vietnam and Iraq, and the targeting of urban centers by Russia in Ukraine or the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Mass death and fireballs on a city skyline are the calling cards we have left across the globe for decades. Our adversaries do the same. The deliberate targeting of civilians, whether in Baghdad, Kyiv, Gaza, or New York City, are all war crimes. The killing of at least 112 Ukranian children, as of March 19, is an atrocity, but so is the killing of 551 Palestinian children during Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza. So is the killing of 230,000 people over the past seven years in Yemen from Saudi bombing campaigns and blocades that have resulted in mass starvation and cholera epidemics. Where were the calls for a no-fly zone over Gaza and Yemen? Imagine how many lives could have been saved.War crimes demand the same moral judgment and accountability. But they don’t get them. And they don’t get them because we have one set of standards for white Europeans, and another for non-white people around the globe. The western media has turned European and American volunteers flocking to fight in Ukraine into heroes, while Mulsims in the west who join resistance groups battling foreign occupiers in the Middle East are criminlized as terrorists. Putin has been ruthless with the press. But so has our ally the de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, who ordered the murder and dismemberment of my friend and collague Jamal Khashoggi, and who this month oversaw a mass execution of 81 people conivicted of criminal offenses. The coverage of Ukraine, especially after spending seven years reporting on Israel’s murderous assaults against the Palestinians, is another example of the racist divide that defines most of the western media. World War II began with an understanding, at least by the allies, that employing industrial weapons against civilian populations was a war crime. But within 18 months of the start of the war, the Germans, Americans and British were relentlessly bombing cities. By the end of the war, one-fifth of German homes had been destroyed. One million German civilians were killed or wounded in bombing raids. Seven-and-a-half million Germans were made homeless. The tactic of saturation bombing, or area bombing, which included the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo, which killed more than 90,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo and left a million people homeless, and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took the lives of between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, had the sole purpose of breaking the morale of the population through mass death and terror. Cities such as Leningrad, Stalingrad, Warsaw, Coventry, Royan, Nanjing and Rotterdam were obliterated. It turned the architects of modern war, all of them, into war criminals.Civilians in every war since have been considered legitimate targets. In the summer of 1965, then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara called the bombing raids north of Saigon that left hundreds of thousands of dead an effective means of communication with the government in Hanoi. McNamara, six years before he died, unlike most war criminals, had the capacity for self-reflection. Interviewed in the documentary, “The Fog of War,” he was repentant, not only about targeting Vietnamese civilians but about the aerial targeting of civilians in Japan in World War II, overseen by Air Force General Curtis LeMay.“LeMay said if we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals,” McNamara said in the film. “And I think he’s right…LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose, and not immoral if you win?”LeMay, later head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, would go on to drop tons of napalm and firebombs on civilian targets in Korea which, by his own estimate, killed 20 percent of the population over a three-year period.Industrial killing defines modern warfare. It is impersonal mass slaughter. It is administered by vast bureaucratic structures that perpetuate the killing over months and years. It is sustained by heavy industry that produces a steady flow of weapons, munitions, tanks, planes, helicopters, battleships, submarines, missiles, and mass-produced supplies, along with mechanized transports that ferry troops and armaments by rail, ship, cargo planes and trucks to the battlefield. It mobilizes industrial, governmental and organization structures for total war. It centralizes systems of information and internal control. It is rationalized for the public by specialists and experts, drawn from the military establishment, along with pliant academics and the media.Industrial war destroys existing value systems that protect and nurture life, replacing them with fear, hatred, and a dehumanization of those who we are made to believe deserve to be exterminated. It is driven by emotions, not truth or fact. It obliterates nuance, replacing it with an infantile binary universe of us and them. It drives competing narratives, ideas and values underground and vilifies all who do not speak in the national cant that replaces civil discourse and debate. It is touted as an example of the inevitable march of human progress, when in fact it brings us closer and closer to mass obliteration in a nuclear holocaust. It mocks the concept of individual heroism, despite the feverish efforts of the military and the mass media to sell this myth to naïve young recruits and a gullible public. It is the Frankenstein of industrialized societies. War, as Alfred Kazin warned, is “the ultimate purpose of technological society.” Our real enemy is within.  Historically, those who are prosecuted for war crimes, whether the Nazi hierarchy at Nuremberg or the leaders of Liberia, Chad, Serbia, and Bosnia, are prosecuted because they lost the war and because they are adversaries of the United States.There will be no prosecution of Saudi Arabian rulers for the war crimes committed in Yemen or for the US military and political leadership for the war crimes they carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, or a generation earlier in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The atrocities we commit, such as My Lai, where 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians were gunned down by US soldiers, which are made public, are dealt with by finding a scapegoat, usually a low-ranking officer who is given a symbolic sentence. Lt. William Calley served three years under house arrest for the killings at My Lai. Eleven US soldiers, none of whom were officers, were convicted of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. But the architects and overlords of our industrial slaughter, including Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Gen. Curtis LeMay, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Lyndon Johnson, Gen. William Westmoreland, George W. Bush, Gen. David Petraeus, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are never held to account. They leave power to become venerated elder statesmen. The mass slaughter of industrial warfare, the failure to hold ourselves to account, to see our own face in the war criminals we condemn, will have ominous consequences. Author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi understood that the annihilation of the humanity of others is prerequisite for their physical annihilation. We have become captives to our machines of industrial death. Politicians and generals wield their destructive fury as if they were toys. Those who decry the madness, who demand the rule of law, are attacked and condemned. These industrial weapons systems are our modern idols. We worship their deadly prowess. But all idols, the Bible tells us, begin by demanding the sacrifice of others and end in apocalyptic self-sacrifice.NOTE TO SCHEERPOST READERS : There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestr​​ing budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.Thank you, ChrisChris HedgesChris HedgesChris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.
Author LinkCopyright 2022 Chris Hedges Moderator | March 21, 2022 at 6:00 am | Tags: biden, biden ukraine, bombing, chris hedges, civilian deaths, cold war, dresden, featured, firebombing, hiroshima, industrial war, international criminal court, international law, iraq, nagasaki, nuclear war, nuclear weapons, putin, putin ukraine., russia, shelling, syria, ukraine, ukraine war, us war crimes, vietnam, war crimes, war criminal, war criminal putin, wwii, Yemen | Categories: Chris Hedges, Forever Wars, Original | URL: https://wp.me/pbNvZt-3Qr Comment    See all comments
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