Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s Karina Lester at United Nations conference on a nuclear weapons ban treaty

South Australian woman Karina Lester presents anti-nuclear speech to United Nations in New York Erin Jones, The AdvertiserJune 23, 2017 

KARINA Lester’s family remembers the ground shaking and a black mist rolling towards them when nuclear tests were carried out at Emu Field, in the state’s Far North. The residents of Walatina community, 150km south of the explosion, were given no notice of the British tests, in 1953, but they would suffer from lifelong health affects.

Her father, Yankunytjatjara elder Yami Lester, became blind as a result of the testing, while others suffered skin infections, auto-immune diseases and severe vomiting.

Ms Lester shared the poignant story with world leaders in New York this month in a four minute address to the United Nations conference on a nuclear weapons ban treaty. “It was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present to the UN,” Ms Lester said. “It’s really important to be able to share these stories otherwise we forget. “We learn so much about world wars but we don’t hear the history of what happened here.”

The treaty talks have been supported by more than 120 countries, but Australia and those with nuclear powers, including Russia and the United States have boycotted the conference.

Countries which signed the treaty would be forbidden from developing or manufacturing nuclear weapons and they would need to get rid of any weapons they already possess.

“It was disappointing as an Australian person to speak about what happened in our own backyard, when your country wasn’t even in the room,” Ms Lester said.

“This is an opportunity for nations to get together and completely ban nuclear weapons, instead of spending trillions of dollars to improve their technology.”

Ms Lester, of North Plympton, also took part in sessions with Hiroshima survivors to further share stories of the how nuclear weapons affect humanity.

“You can’t help but be moved when you hear those stories from people who survived and what they remember from when the blast when off,” she said.

 The 42-year-old senior Aboriginal language worker has advocated against nuclear testing since she was a teenager and, more recently, fought against the Australian Government’s plan for an international waste dump in SA.

Talks on the global treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons conclude on July 7.


June 26, 2017 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war

1 Comment »

  1. The Editor
    The Advertiser

    In the 1950’s, Prime Minister Robert Menzies not only gave the British permission to test their nuclear weapons in South Australia but he also supplied them with the uranium for the weapons. Descendents of people who had lived in the area for tens of thousands of years were seriously affected.

    Six decades later nothing much has changed. We are still exporting uranium to countries with nuclear weapons. These countries are refusing to stop making nuclear weapons, descendents of the people affected by the nuclear weapons tests in the 50’s are being ignored in Australia by both State and Federal Governments and by the Labor-Liberal duopoly.

    Australia, despite not having nuclear weapons, is being deservedly embarrassed on the world stage by boycotting the UN conference on a nuclear weapons ban treaty (The Advertiser, 26/6/17).

    Does Australia have nuclear weapons aspirations? Are we repeating history with the UK replaced by the USA? Or is that we have a vested interest in supplying uranium to nuclear weapons countries?

    When will we ever learn?

    Comment by Dennis Matthews | June 27, 2017 | Reply

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