Press Release: Hiroshima survivor and advocate for nuclear disarmament Setsuko Thurlow in London on speaking tour
As a 13-year old schoolgirl, Setsuko Thurlow found herself pressed into action by the Japanese Imperial Army, decoding secret messages. On her first official day of work, August 6th 1945, Setsuko recalls a blueish white flash and a force of wind that lifted her body skyward. She would later regain consciousness in close proximity to ground zero of the world’s first wartime atomic blast that destroyed her beloved city of Hiroshima. A survivor of one of the most pivotal events in modern history, Setsuko has displayed enormous courage and leadership throughout her long life, sharing her atomic bomb experiences in order to inform people about the real consequences of nuclear war.
In the last five years Setsuko has been a powerful proponent of the movement to ban nuclear weapons, lead by non nuclear weapons states and anti-nuclear activists alike. The first meeting of the historic inauguration of the Nuclear Ban Treaty negotiations will take place at the United Nations in New York at the end of this month. Although over 100 nations will participate in drafting the nuclear weapons ban treaty, the UK along with other nuclear powers is boycotting the meeting. Ahead of that meeting, Setsuko is in London to receive the Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize at a special ceremony on 25th March for her work advocating nuclear disarmament.
Setsuko vividly recalls her horrific experiences as she continues to devote her life to the cause of nuclear disarmament: “Whenever I remember back to that time I think about the precious lives of the children who were lost, I was thinking of my four-year-old nephew, who was burned and blackened beyond recognition. He died, together with his mother. He just happened to be walking over the bridge to the doctor’s. That’s why this was his fate. And whenever I remember their agony, I think of all the children. My four-year-old nephew came to represent all the children of the world. And that’s a very important image I have, burned to my retina, as I keep speaking to the people of the world about the danger of nuclear war.”
Prior to the prize-giving ceremony Setsuko is sharing her testimony with students in a number of speaking engagements including SOAS on 21st March, Dame Alice Owens School in Potters Bar on 23rd March and City University on 24th March.
In 2006 Setsuko was awarded the Order of Canada Medal, the highest honour recognizing Canadian civilians. In 2015 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for nuclear disarmament.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Setsuko is available for media interviews on the morning of Friday 24th March.
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