Nuclear weapons testing victim, ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador urge August 29 moment of silence in memory weapons testing victims

August 15, 2019

NUR-SULTAN – The human toll of the nuclear weapons era is seen not only in the hundreds of thousands who died in Hiroshima or Nagasaki or in the constant threat to civilization posed by the stockpiling of these deadly weapons. It is in the ongoing suffering of untold millions affected by nuclear weapons testing.

The ATOM Project and its Honorary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov are urging people around the world to observe a moment of silence during the August 29 UN International Day against Nuclear Tests in memory of all nuclear weapons-testing victims.

Kuyukov would like people around the world to observe a moment of silence at 11:05 a.m. their local time. The exact 11:05 a.m. time was chosen because at that time, analog clock hands form a Roman letter “V,” symbolizing victory. The moment of silence and the representation of victory honour those who have suffered and urges the international community to continue to seek victory over the nuclear weapons threat.

“Nuclear weapons testing in Kazakhstan and around the world unleashed untold amounts of suffering,” said Kuyukov. “The suffering of these victims continues today. Their struggles cannot be forgotten. I am honored that my country urged the United Nations to establish August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. And I urge, in memory of those who have suffered and continue to do so, people around the world to observe a moment of silence on that day.”

For decades, emerging nuclear weapons nations conducted nuclear weapons tests around the world. From the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in what is now Kazakhstan to Nevada and New Mexico in the United States to the atolls of the Marshall Islands and French Polynesia, untold numbers were exposed to nuclear weapons tests.

The effects are still being felt today by those exposed to the tests and those who came after in the form of horrific birth defects, early death and debilitating illnesses.

The ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov

The people of Kazakhstan endured more than 450 Soviet-era nuclear weapons tests near what is now the city of Semey. Kuyukov’s parents were among those exposed to the tests. As a result, he 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.

Kazakhstan has also gone on to become a world leader in the nonproliferation movement and an example to other nations after renouncing, upon President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decision, what was then the world fourth largest nuclear arsenal inherited from the Soviet Union.

It was also at the initiative of Kazakhstan that the United Nations adopted in 2009 the date of August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests in commemoration of the date in 1991 when Nazarbayev shut down the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site, even before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Let us take August 29 as a day to recognise that the suffering related to nuclear weapons continues even when no bombs are dropped and that we must seek a permanent end to nuclear weapons testing as a first step to a nuclear weapons-free world,” said Kuyukov.