Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

My people are still suffering from Australia’s secret nuclear testing

 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/my-people-are-still-suffering-from-australias-secret-nuclear-testing-20171208-h01a3l.html Sue Coleman-Haseldine, 

My name is Sue Coleman-Haseldine. I was born into poverty on the margins of Australian society on the Aboriginal mission of Koonibba in 1951. At this time my people were not allowed to vote and we had very few means to be understood, let alone be heard.

I was born into one of the oldest living cultures known on Earth and into a place that I love – a dusty, arid paradise on the edge of a rugged coastline. Our land and waters are central to our outlook and religion and provide the basis for my people’s health and happiness.

And I was born just before the desert lands to our north were bombed by the deadliest weapons on Earth in an extensive, secretive and devastating manner by the Australian and British governments.

In the 1950s, areas known as Emu Fields and Maralinga were used to test nine full-scale atomic bombs and for 600 other nuclear tests, leaving the land highly radioactive. We weren’t on ground zero, but the dust didn’t stay in one place. The winds brought the poison to us and many others.

Aboriginal people, indeed many people at that time, knew nothing about the effects of radiation. We didn’t know the invisible killer was falling amongst us. Six decades on, my small town of Ceduna is being called the Cancer Capital of Australia. There are so many deaths in our region of various cancers. My grand-daughter and I have had our thyroids removed, and there are many others in our area with thyroid problems. Fertility issues appear common.

But there has been no long-term assessment of the health impacts in the region and even those involved in the botched clean-ups of the test sites have no recourse because they cannot prove their illness is linked with exposure to nuclear weapons testing.

The impact of the Maralinga and Emu Fields testing has had far-reaching consequences that are still being felt today. Ask a young person from my area, “What do you think you will die from?” The answer is, “Cancer, everyone else is”.

I have lived my life learning about the bomb tests and also learning that the voice of my people and others won’t always be understood or heard. But I learnt from old people now gone that speaking up is important and by joining with others from many different places and backgrounds that our voices can be amplified.

Through these steps I found the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), or perhaps ICAN found me.

ICAN – as an organisation, as a collective of passionate, educated people working for a clear goal – has been so important to me. To know that my story and my voice helps bring recognition to the past and can shape the future of nuclear prohibition has strengthened my resolve.

Being involved in ICAN has been a double-edged sword. On one hand and for the first time in my life, I no longer feel alone or isolated. I have met others from many parts of the globe who have similar stories and experiences and who are passionate advocates for a nuclear-free future.

But the flip side of this is my understanding of just how widespread and just how devastating the nuclear weapons legacy is across the globe. To learn that so many weapons still exist sends fear to my heart. ICAN is a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – in a short time we have gathered support for a treaty to finally outlaw nuclear weapons and help eliminate the nuclear threat.

The vision was reached in part with so many nations adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017. And we should celebrate this win and the opportunity to work together to stop the suffering and assist countries to make amends to nuclear weapons victims by acknowledging the permanent damage done to land, health and culture.

Unfortunately, the Australian government, along with other first world nations, didn’t even participate in the treaty negotiations, and they haven’t signed the treaty yet, but over time we feel confident they will.

A lot has changed since I was born. Aboriginal people now have the right to vote in Australia, but still we battle for understanding about our culture and the Australian nuclear weapons legacy. My home is still remote and most of my people still poor. But we are also no longer alone. We have the means and the will to participate – to share and to learn and to bring about lasting change.

ICAN’s work is not done, our work is not done. We will continue to work together. A world without nuclear weapons is a world we need and are creating. I stand here in hope and gratitude for the opportunity to participate. I stand here with pride and I stand here for our future and the generations to come.

Sue Coleman-Haseldine is a Kokatha woman who lives in Ceduna, South Australia. This is an extract of her speech in Oslo marking the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN.​

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December 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories, weapons and war | 18 Comments

Yami Lester’s daughters continue his fight against the nuclear industry

Yami’s daughters take up anti-nuclear fight https://nit.com.au/yamis-daughters-take-anti-nuclear-fight/ – Wendy Caccetta –reporter@nit.com.auNovember 29, 2017 Sisters Karina and Rose Lester know all too well the tragedy nuclear weapons can bring.

Their late father Yami Lester, a Yankunytjatjara man of northern South Australia, lost his sight after being exposed as a boy to nuclear testing by the British Government at Maralinga in remote SA.

He went on to become a prominent anti-nuclear campaigner.

Now his daughters have taken up the battle, collecting and sharing stories that have helped the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) win a Nobel Peace Prize.

The prestigious prize will be presented in Oslo on December 10, with an event at Melbourne Town Hall to be held the same day.

Karina Lester, who lives in Adelaide, said when she was growing up her father did not talk much at home about what had happened to him as a boy when the nuclear testing took place.

But in public Mr Lester, who passed away in July at the age of 75, felt it was important to share with the world the events that shook the Wallatina community in the ’50s.

“There’s a role a parent plays in protecting your children from really knowing some of the sad, sad stories that did take place across our community,” Ms Lester said.

“He spoke a bit about where the camp was, he remembers that day, he remembers the ground shaking and this black mist rolling and the fear in the community.

“There was a huge loss for us as an Aboriginal community and we were so badly done by when the British came in and tested in our backyard that we still suffer to this day.”

Ms Lester said conditions in the community deteriorated over a week after the testing.“When the fallout happened, that evening, people were violently ill,” she said. “There was a lot of vomiting going around in the camp. People became sick. Their eyes started getting sore and tender.

“By day two, people were really starting to suffer. By week two, people’s eyes were either burnt out or people had bad burns on their bodies. “There were lots of rashes appearing and there was a trail of black-like soot that fell over the whole of the community.

“The oranges had shrivelled up and by that week were non-edible.”

Ms Lester said the story was a painful one, but needed to be heard. She said it was important to take a stand against anything nuclear from weapons to waste storage facilities. The Lester sisters gave NIT permission to reproduce the photo of their late father.

 

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal grandmother, survivor of Maralinga nuclear bomb tests, to Norway for Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

World spotlight shines on Maralinga horrorhttps://au.news.yahoo.com/a/38090548/world-spotlight-shines-on-maralinga-horror/   Lisa Martin, 30 Nov 17,  Sue Coleman-Haseldine was a toddler crawling around in the dirt when the winds brought the black mist.

Her white nappies on the washing line were burnt.

It was in the 1950s when the British began testing nuclear weapons at Maralinga in the South Australian outback.

The legacy of the bombs dropped continues to haunt the 67-year-old Aboriginal grandmother. “We weren’t on ground zero at Maralinga, otherwise we would all be dead,” she told AAP. “I was born and grew up on a mission at Koonibba, but the winds came to us.”

Ceduna, the main township before the Nullarbor, is the cancer capital of Australia, Ms Coleman-Haseldine says. She’s had her thyroid removed and will be on medication for the rest of her life.

Her 15-year-old granddaughter is also battling thyroid cancer..

There are birth defects and cancers right across the community. “It’s changed our genes,” she said.”These diseases weren’t around before the bombs.”

On December 10, Ms Coleman-Haseldine will be in Oslo for the Noble Peace Prize award ceremony.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is being recognised for its work to achieve a treaty-based ban on nuclear weapons.

So far 122 countries have adopted the treaty, excluding Australia and countries with nuclear weapons – the US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

Only three countries have ratified the treaty and 50 are needed for it to become international law.

ICAN is a grassroots movement that began in Carlton, Melbourne more than a decade ago.

In Norway, Ms Coleman-Haseldine will tell the story of her people and their contaminated land.”You’ve got to keep the past alive to protect the future,” she said.

Ms Coleman-Haseldine hopes Australia will reverse its opposition and sign the treaty.

The Turnbull government has ruled that out but the Labor Party will debate the issue at its national conference next year.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

Nobel Peace Prize Win and the work of Australian indigenous activist Karina Lester

Indigenous anti-nuclear activist tells of her personal work with Nobel Prize-winning ICAN http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-07/ican-and-a-personal-battle-against-nuclear-weapons/9026846 By Karen Percy For Karina Lester 2017 has been a mixed bag — the loss of her beloved father, but a big win as part of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Ms Lester’s anti-nuclear stance is a very personal one.

Her father was Yami Lester, an Aboriginal elder who was blinded by nuclear fallout when he was a child.

Mr Lester died just two weeks after the United Nations agreed to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons thanks to ICAN’s work, which was last night named by the Norwegian Nobel Committee as the Peace Prize winner for 2017.

He was 75 and had spent a lifetime raising awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons, having been blinded during British weapons testing in Maralinga in South Australia in the 1950s.

“I think he’d be really pleased and very proud to know but also grateful that ICAN was able to provide that platform for us and that his story was so powerful,” Ms Lester said.

On July 7 the United Nations adopted the treaty. Mr Lester died on July 21.

Ms Lester has become as passionate about the anti-nuclear movement as her father. “It’s not a happy story, it’s quite a sad and tragic story, but ICAN has certainly been a wonderful platform for us Anangu and Aboriginal people of Australia to really talk up strongly about what happened to us back in those days,” she said.

When she was younger, she did not know what had caused her father’s blindness.

“It wasn’t until later in life that I realised it was such a sad story … with the doings of the British Government and our Australian Government as well … allowing for tests to happen in South Australia in the 1950s and 60s.

“[And] that they were responsible for taking my father’s sight.

“There were a lot of people affected by this, not only Aboriginal people, there were non-Aboriginal people, ex-servicemen and women who were exposed to this as well.”

As a representative of Indigenous voices within ICAN’s 400-strong organisations around the world, she has told her father’s story to audiences around the Asia-Pacific region, including the Japanese city of Hiroshima, which was struck by an American nuclear bomb in 1945.

A later attack on the Japanese city of Nagasaki prompted an end to World War II.

Ms Lester has also exchanged stories with the people of the Marshall Islands and Tahiti affected by nuclear testing by French authorities from the 1960s until the 1990s.

“Many tests have taken place or nuclear issues have occurred in Indigenous countries around the world, so it’s a global issue for sure,” said Ms Lester, a Western Desert Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara woman.

Her grandparents were part of efforts to prevent the establishment of a nuclear waste facility in SA.

She took her daughters to Hiroshima in November 2015 where Yami Lester’s experience was well understood.

“It’s important for us to continue on sharing that story for the next generation to know the story and [then] the next generation to know the story,” she said.

The historic treaty pushed by ICAN needs 50 nations to sign on before it will be activated.

Australia has yet to join the treaty.

October 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

Death of famed and much-loved Aboriginal activist Yami Lester

Yankunytjatjara elder and Maralinga nuclear test survivor Yami Lester OAM passes away, aged 75 http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/yankunytjatjara-elder-and-maralinga-nuclear-test-survivor-yami-lester-oam-passes-away-aged-75/news-story/ccfc3f82c75a643c3e49f22c8a215dbf, MATT GARRICK, Sunday Mail (SA), July 22, 2017 YANKUNYTJATJARA elder Yami Lester OAM, an Outback hero who opened the nation’s eyes to the human cost of nuclear tests committed on Australian soil, has died aged 75 in Alice Springs.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | 1 Comment

Tributes flow, on the death of highly respected Aboriginal elder Yami Lester

Yami Lester: tributes follow death of Aboriginal elder and Maralinga activist https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/23/yami-lester-tributes-follow-death-of-aboriginal-elder-and-maralinga-activist

Lester, who was blinded by British atomic tests in South Australia in the 1950s, campaigned to get recognition for the 1,800 Indigenous Australians affected, Guardian, 23 July 17 Tributes have poured in for Aboriginal elder and activist Yami Lester, who died at the age of 75.

Lester, who died in Alice Springs on Friday night, lived a life of “great hardship and challenge” after being blinded as a young adolescent by the Maralinga atomic tests in the 1950s, which he called the “black mist”.

He worked as a stockman before losing his sight.

He may be farewelled at a state funeral if his family accepts the offer from the Northern Territory government.“Mr Lester was a key Aboriginal leader who embraced the challenge of bridging two worlds,” NT chief minister Michael Gunner said on Saturday.

“He never let his blindness hold him back, he was sharp as a tack in negotiating at the highest levels of business and government.

“His life was a life of great hardship and challenge, met with great courage and foresight, and he achieved great change.”

He joined the Aboriginal Advancement League in Adelaide, fighting to gain recognition for the British atomic tests in South Australia, and an acknowledgement for the 1,800 Aboriginal people affected.

His work lead to the McClelland royal commission in 1984-85 which resulted in group compensation for the Maralinga Tjarutja people and long-term clean-up operations to restore the land.

Lester, who had an Order of Australia, was also central to the work of the Pitjantjatjara Council that led to the grant of freehold title to traditional owners in South Australia.

South Australia’s Aboriginal affairs minister, Kyam Maher, said Lester had inspired many and left behind a strong legacy.

Lester was also the inspiration for the 1987 Paul Kelly song Maralinga.“My thoughts are with his family, who carry on his work of activism, standing up for the rights and views of Anangu and preserving culture and language,” he said in a statement.

The South Australian government is consulting with his family on a memorial to recognise his contribution to the state.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

Karina Lester: the Anangu story, and the Aboriginal fight against nuclear waste dumping

Karina Lester: Aboriginal people do not want a nuclear waste dump in South Australia http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/karina-lester-aboriginal-people-do-not-want-a-nuclear-waste-dump-in-south-australia/news-story/b180d3850f4285c208a334957ef5d6f0 Karina Lester, The Advertiser June 28, 2017 IT was a huge honour to travel to New York for United Nations negotiations on a historic treaty to ban nuclear weapons — a long journey from Walatina in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in far north west South Australia.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

For Australian climate scientists, climate change is becoming a personal and serious concern

research shows that if there isn’t a reduction in CO2 emissions, there will be up to 50 extra really hot days a year in northern Australia by the end of the century.

Professor David Griggs, who recently retired as director of the Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University, said Australia is in denial about climate change.

“Australians will have to adapt or die,” he said.

Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-27/climate-scientists-speak-of-their-worst-fears/8631368, Lateline  By Kerry Brewster, Cradling her newborn baby girl, heatwave expert Sarah Perkins Kirkpatrick admits to feeling torn between the joy of motherhood and anxiety over her first-born child’s future.

“I always wanted a big family and I’m thrilled. But my happiness is altered by what I know is coming with climate change,” she said.

“I don’t like to scare people but the future’s not looking very good.

“Having a baby makes it personal. Will this child suffer heatstroke just walking to school?”

Dr Perkins Kirkpatrick is one of several climate scientists who Lateline spoke to, seeking a range of opinions from experts at some of the top climate change research units within major universities in Australia. Continue reading

June 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, personal stories | Leave a comment

Rose and Karina Lester: the personal story of two feisty Aboriginal sisters

When I heard that [SA premier] Jay Weatherill had announced the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in March 2015, I knew I had to campaign against the nuclear waste dump. I asked Sis to support me because she helped Nanna – Dad’s aunt, Eileen Kampakuta Brown – with the successful Irati Wanti Campaign against a nuclear dump in Coober Pedy in 2004. So we’re fighting it together.

Rose and Karina Lester: How illness has driven our anti-nuclear campaign work http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/two-of-us/rose-and-karina-lester-how-illness-has-driven-our-antinuclear-campaign-work-20170619-gwu0em.html  Rosamund Burton , 24 June 17 

Indigenous activists Rose Lester, 47, and her sister Karina, 42, are the daughters of Yami Lester, who went blind after the “black mist” fallout from the British nuclear tests in 1953 came over his family’s camp.

ROSE: When Mum went to hospital to have Karina, my grandparents came to Alice Springs to look after my older brother, Leroy, and me. They were proper traditional, and built a little humpy in our backyard and camped there. I was chuffed I had a sister. She was a gorgeous, dark, chubby thing. Continue reading

June 26, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, personal stories, South Australia | Leave a comment

Farmers want the Australian government to embrace solar energy

Farmers urge government to embrace solar for the future http://www.examiner.com.au/story/4625721/farmers-urge-government-to-embrace-solar-for-the-future/?cs=97 30 Apr 2017, A year ago, my family acquired solar panels in a very unusual way. Our farm is located in Quirindi, northern NSW, in the heart of Australia’s food bowl.

We’ve never before experienced a run of 40-degree days like we had last summer. Being farmers we are at the mercy of the seasons, and in recent years we have experienced extremes in our weather – extended hot summer periods and increasingly variable rainfall.  It’s hard on our cows, it dries out the soil, stresses pastures and impacts the number of animals we can stock on the farm.

A few years back a concerned group of Christians called Common Grace crowdfunded enough money to buy solar panels for the then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.  It was an attempt to raise awareness of the value and importance of sustainable energy.

But when this gift was rejected, Common Grace turned to the front lines of climate change in Australia and offered the panels to farmers, like me. My parents taught me the value of caring for the land, and so, I appreciate the clean energy from solar which allows me to use appliances during the day knowing I am having minimal impact on the environment.

My family spends less on electricity now and with the price of solar storage falling, we’ve got plans to go completely off the grid.

It’s frustrating that our government is failing to transition Australia to sustainable energy when we are out in the paddock already trying to adapt to the impacts of worsening droughts and heatwaves.

We must tackle climate change so we can pass on healthy farmlands to our children, and so farmers can continue to produce food and clothes for generations to come.

Being given the opportunity to go solar has been great. I just wish our government will now give it a go. Kirrily Blomfield was 2014 NSW farmer of the year.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | New South Wales, personal stories, solar | Leave a comment

Adani’s coal will worsen the lives of India’s poorest

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/adanis-coal-will-worsen-the-lives-of-indias-poorest-20170418-gvmw6j.html   Harita Sridhar, Last week, I told my dad I was going to speak outside the Indian high commission at an anti-Adani rally against the proposed Carmichael mine. Soon after, he called me up and he was not happy.My parents are Indian migrants and I am a young, second-generation, Indian-Australian woman. My father reminded me that there are 300 million people living without electricity in India, and of the times we ourselves were without power in our ancestral village and our home in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam. Energy poverty is an obstacle to inclusive development in India, and difficult to empathise with here in Australia, where we generally have the privilege of energy security.

But the coal from Adani’s Carmichael mine is not the answer for those living without electricity. It will further pollute the air they breathe and the water they drink. It will cause dangerous climate change and extreme weather that always affects the poorest first. Australia’s coal will make their lives harder in the long run.

That’s why I decided to speak out. I believe that, if the Australian government or Adani were genuinely serious about extending our energy security to India, they would be generous with technology transfer, or provide untied funding to help India’s renewables sector grow. Instead, we face the potential construction of what would be Australia’s largest coal mine, and the prospect of irreversible environmental degradation to our climate, groundwater and the Great Barrier Reef.

Adani’s project is a terrible idea. The company has a record of serious environmental and human rights violations in several countries, including India I don’t trust it to keep the Australian environment safe.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is offering Adani $1 billion of public money as a subsidised loan for this project, though India doesn’t even want our coal! Just last week, India’s Energy Minister, Piyush Goyal, said India didn’t want to keep buying foreign coal and wanted instead to transition to a renewable-energy economy. This is the safer, cleaner and more sustainable solution to India’s energy deficit, and the only one that doesn’t harm the global environment.

Closer to home, more than two-thirds of Australians polled say they don’t want the mine to be built either. This year alone, more than 140 “Stop Adani” groups have formed, and the national Stop Adani roadshow sold out at every major city along the east coast, gathering about 4000 passionate people (500 in Canberra!) who are concerned about the mine and don’t want it to go ahead.

The Carmichael mine is bad for Australia, for India and for the global climate. The rest of the world is getting smarter about climate change and stepping away from coal. Australia shouldn’t embarrass itself by taking a huge step backwards.   Harita Sridhar is a Canberra student.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

One Aboriginal family – devastated by Maralinga nuclear bomb testing

hydrogen-bomb-460Chapter 16: A toxic legacy : British nuclear weapons testing in Australia  Published in:  Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 ISBN 0 642 14605 5(Australian studies in law, crime and justice series); pp. 235-253  “…….The security measures taken to restrict access to the testing site were not without flaws. One morning in May 1957, four Aboriginal people, the Milpuddie family, were found by range authorities near the crater formed by the ‘Buffalo 2’ explosion the previous October. ‘Me man, woman, two children and two dogs had set out on foot from the Everard Ranges in the northwest of South Australia, and were unaware that the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Maralinga area had been removed. When authorities discovered them, the family was immediately taken to a decontamination centre at the site, and were required to shower. After this experience, which must have been frightening enough, the family was driven to Yalata.

As one of the site personnel described the experience:

It was a shocking trip down as they had never ridden in a vehicle before and vomited everywhere (Australia 1985, p. 320).

On instructions from the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Supply, the dogs were shot. ‘ne woman was pregnant at the time the family was taken into custody; subsequently, her baby was born dead. Australian authorities went to great lengths to keep the incident secret, but they appear to have been less concerned with the family’s subsequent health. Commenting upon the fact that no-one appears to have taken the time to explain the experience to which the hapless Aborigines were subjected, a team of anthropologists was to comment:

[T]he three remaining members of the family have been subjected to a high degree of stress and unhappiness about the events of twenty-eight years ago (Australia 1985, p. 323)…….http://aic.gov.au/publications/previous%20series/lcj/1-20/wayward/ch16.html

October 24, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, history, personal stories, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment