I am deeply grateful to the Organizing Committee of the Conference for inviting me and giving me an opportunity to speak.
gThe Japanese people are in the unique position having had the atomic bombs tested on themselves," wrote Kenzaburo Oe, Japanese novelist and Nobel Prize laureate.
Yet, no territory and no people in the world has suffered as much as Kazakhstan has from nuclear testing conducted at the Semipalatinsk test site. There is simply nothing equivalent anywhere in the world. In this densely populated area, nuclear experiments on the ground and in the air were carried out for over 14 years, followed by underground testing for another 25 years with radioactive gas leaks almost every time there was testing.
For over 40 years, people were repeatedly exposed to radiation in large and small doses. Semipalatinsk is the region in the world that has suffered too much from nuclear experiments. A number of independent foreign experts agree that the region is one of the most severely damaged in the world.
The testing has struck children. Almost 50 % of the children of the region suffer from chronic diseases. Many children are born with disabilities, and some babies are born deformed, looking like monsters. There is no way to repair the damaged genetic code they inherit from their parents.
Seventy percent of the women in the region suffer from some kind of illness, which could complicate their pregnancy and childbirth. The rate of women with anemia is the highest in the country. The rates of miscarriage, underweight babies, stillbirths, inherent anomalies and premature aging are also on the rise. Gynecology for children has become a serious problem because young girls suffer from premature aging. Gynecological problems have afflicted an unprecedented number of young children whose reproductive systems have been threatened by premature aging.
Our future needs an urgent response. Our future depends on the healthy prosperity of the younger generations. Only healthy women can give birth to and bring up healthy children. The saying, gthe health of a woman is the health of the nationh has come to bear a significant meaning to us.
The Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, which was one of the world's super class sites, was closed on 29 August 1991 by a decree issued by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The mightiest test site on earth located on the sacred land of Kazakhstan ceased its operation. This historic day is now commemorated nationally.
Today, the test site remains silent. Nuclear weapons have been withdrawn from Kazakhstan. Our republic has become a nuclear weapons-free zone. But the nuclear bombs have left us with a time bomb in the genes of 1.5 million people. Decades have passed since the first nuclear explosion in Kazakhstan. Today, we ask if time has healed the wounds created by the nuclear experiments. The answer is obviously no.
Our country is in a transitional period of economic development and has no financial resources to overcome the consequences of the nuclear testing. Our country lacks modern medical, scientific, and financial means, as well as the skill and knowledge to do that. NGOs have a significant role to play in addressing the problems of Semipalatinsk. For example, the Union of Victims of Nuclear Test gIrish directed by Ms. Gulsum Kakimzhanova has provided significant assistance for the improvement in the health condition of the children in the region in collaboration with anti-nuclear organizations in Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.
Such anti-nuclear groups increase year by year like a chain reaction. In this context, we find the role of this annual World Conference against A & H Bombs as well as Gensuikyo very important. After attending the Conference last year, I returned home with deep impressions and full of thoughts. And it is based on this experience and 12 years of working with the Nevada-Semay movement that we decided to create a new anti-nuclear organization in my country.
We consider it immoral and inhuman to be indifferent to the health and well being of the women and children living in such a polluted environment, especially of Semipalatinsk where nuclear tests were conducted unrestricted for as long as 40 years. There is no time to contemplate or try to come up with a philosophical rationale for the testing. It requires urgent and immediate help. That is why we have founded gSamal-Samantha-Sadakoh foundation. The foundation is an officially registered group and has began its work on 18 December 2000.
Samal is a Kazakh girl who died from leukemia at the age of 14 despite people from across the country having provided assistance and donations for her treatment. Samantha is an American girl who wrote of her deep anxiety over the arms race to the first president of the Soviet Union, M.S. Gorbachev. Sadako is a Japanese girl from Hiroshima who died of illness caused by the atomic bombing. She believed that she would become well when she had finished holding 1,000 paper cranes. The names of the three girls have become a symbol of peace and hope for a nuclear weapon free world.
In August, our fund will hold a childrenfs festival gLegend of Bayanaulh as a part of the 10th anniversary of the closing of the Semipalatinsk test site. We will also organize rehabilitation activities for 150 children from the region.
I call for your support of our new and young organization. We hope to build friendship and cooperative ties with women and childrenfs organizations with the names Sadako and Samantha.
The destructive power of nuclear weapons is enormous. If used, in any way, the result will be catastrophic. Once again let us say no more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis, no more Semeys and yes to a world without nuclear weapons.