Dear friends. Thank you for the invitation to participate in the 2001 Conference and the opportunity to make a statement.
My name is Doug Brown and I am from Burlington, Ontario, Canada, a small city of 130,000 residents, 40 kilometres west of Toronto. I am here representing the Burlington Association for Nuclear Disarmament, (BAND), a community organization established in 1983 to educate ourselves and the public on the dangers of nuclear weapons and to promote peace and disarmament.
Although BAND is a small group from a small city, our members believe strongly in the importance of raising public awareness at a community level. We follow the motto "think globally -- act locally." Our local actions have been mostly educational. We have organized public talks and forums with prominent peace advocates such as Joseph Rotblat, Rob Green, and Rosalie Bertell. We also lobby the Canadian government on peace and disarmament issues through a letter-writing committee.
BAND is a member of the Canadian Peace Alliance -- a network of 200 national and local peace organizations. We are also supporters of the Canadian Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu and the campaign to stop NATO low-level bomber training in Nitassinan -- the Innu homeland in Labrador. We also oppose war and militarism and have organized forums and protests on the wars against Iraq and Yugoslavia.
BAND has worked with other peace and social justice groups to promote international campaigns for the abolition of nuclear weapons including the World Court Project; Abolition 2000; the New Agenda Coalition; and the Middle Powers Initiative. In the past six months we have been lobbying our government to oppose the US Nuclear Missile Defence program.
BAND is promoting the International Decade for the Culture of Peace. The culture of peace is being promoted in our schools through our sponsorship of a children's art competition.
BAND has observed the anniversaries of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by organizing a memorial in Burlington or by supporting memorials in the neighbouring communities of Toronto and Hamilton.
Although Canada considers itself a peaceful nation -- we must recognize that Canada, as a member of NATO must take responsibility for NATO's policy of maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons. The Canadian Government's position on nuclear weapons is focussed on "maintaining a non-proliferation regime." Unfortunately, this has become a policy of maintaining a perpetual nuclear weapon monopoly by the 5 Nuclear Weapons States. Canada has continued to align itself with NATO in opposing measures to totally eliminate nuclear weapons.
The atomic bombing of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain two of the worst tragedies of the 20th Century. It fills me with great sadness to think of the death and great suffering that was wrought on these cities in 1945. It also fills me with determination to work for abolition of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons must never be used again.
I commend the organizers of the 2001 Conference and the Japan Council Against A & H Bombs for their continuing efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and for providing this important annual forum activists from around the world to meet and discuss our common goals of peace and nuclear disarmament.
Thank you for continuing to provide leadership in the campaign to abolish nuclear weapons.