ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador sends message of change, hope in commemoration of Hiroshima bombing anniversary
August 6, 2019
NUR-SULTAN – Within a span of just a few moments on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, 80,000 people were killed and 90 percent of that city of Hiroshima, Japan was destroyed. It was just after 8:15 in the morning and the United States had just dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb on the civilians below.
It was one of the saddest and most dangerous moments in human history. The nuclear weapons age had dawned.
“We must never forget that day or the lives lost in Hiroshima,” said The ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov. “Many lives have been lost or destroyed to nuclear weapons, including days later in the city of Nagasaki, as well as over decades of nuclear weapons testing throughout the world, including in what was then Soviet Kazakhstan. But Hiroshima was the first use of a nuclear device meant to kill. It is a moment of shame for the international community and of horror for the people of Japan. It is a moment upon which we should forever shine a light to ensure nuclear weapons are never used to kill again.”
So many people were killed that an accurate count has never been made. Many authorities believe between 129,000 and 226,000 ultimately died, either instantly or in the aftermath, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
And since that early morning moment in Hiroshima 74 years ago, the world has not been able to rid itself of the nuclear weapons threat. A global arms race has ensued and humanity has been living since under the constant threat of annihilation.
Many in the international community, however, including Kuyukov, have been working to bring about change and a nuclear weapons-free world.
Kuyukov knows change is possible because he has seen it first-hand. Kuyukov is a victim of the more than 450 nuclear weapon tests the Soviet Union conducted at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. The site is near what is now the city of Semey, Kazakhstan. Kuyukov’s parents were among the countless numbers of Kazakhs and others around the world exposed to the effects of the nuclear weapon testing.
As a result, Kuyukov was born without arms. But despite that challenge, he has become a renowned painter and internationally recognised nuclear disarmament activist. He has devoted his art to capturing the images of nuclear weapon-testing victims and his life’s work to ending the nuclear weapons threat.
He has also witnessed positive change. Kuyokov’s home country Kazakhstan inherited what was then the fourth-largest nuclear arsenal in the world following the collapse of the Soviet Union. But, with the support of the Kazakh people, the country’s first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, renounced that arsenal for Kazakhstan to become a peaceful international partner. Kazakhstan, its leaders and its people, such as Kuyukov, have since been at the forefront of the nuclear disarmament movement.
Kuyukov and The Atom Project, on this day, honour those lost their lives in Hiroshima, by sending a message of hope and of a renewed effort to bring about a nuclear weapons-free world.
“We can achieve a nuclear weapons-free world. With political will, with the united voice of citizens around the world, change is possible,” he said.