North Korea & the USA: Empty Rhetoric or Nuclear Threat
Noted peace activists Mary-Wynne Ashford and Jonathan Down will be at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Nov. 30 to share their thoughts on the heightened risks of nuclear confrontation in our time, the progress of a bold new international “no nukes” treaty and the various ways the public can express their concerns.
The two Victoria-area physicians will be introduced by Sooke’s Christa Rossner, who was involved in the nuclear weapons abolition movement with Dr. Ashford for many years. Admission is free, however donations are welcome to support the vital work of the organizations with which Drs Ashford and Down are affiliated.
“The United States and North Korea have been hurling escalating threats of nuclear attacks at each other. Now the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved its doomsday clock forward to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever come to the apocalypse,” says Dr. Ashford, former president of the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a global federation of physicians that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
A nuclear exchange could cause the deaths and suffering of millions of people, lead to a forced “nuclear winter” and irradiate massive tracts of land, rendering it unsustainable for millennia. The World Health Organization rates nuclear weapons as the highest of all potential dangers to human health.
“Unfortunately, many young people who have grown up since the end of the Cold War in 1991 are unaware of the horrific consequences of a nuclear war and thus are not alarmed by the present situation,” explains Dr. Ashford. “We’ll suggest some actions that can be taken and brainstorm with the audience about other ideas.”
As the alarming brinkmanship continues in Washington and Pyongyang, Dr. Down will share the good news that a new generation of physicians and young activists (many under the age of 30) have banded together as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). This umbrella group of nearly 500 organizations in more than 100 countries will be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize on Dec. 10 in Oslo for its advocacy work, which includes creating a new Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. The award will be accepted by Setsuko Thurlow, a (now) Canadian survivor of the Hiroshima bombing.
Drs. Down and Ashford belong to various international networks of medical professionals committed to the principle that doctors have an obligation to prevent what they cannot treat. International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, founded by Helen Caldicott in 1980, continues to share the medical and scientific facts about nuclear war with policy makers and the public while also advocating for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals.
About the speakers
Dr. Jonathan Down is a paediatrician based at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health in Victoria and an adjunct professor at both UBC and the University of Victoria. He is President-elect of Physicians for Global Survival (the Canadian affiliate of IPPNW) and a charter member of the Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network.
Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford has been a teacher, physician, professor and activist for IPPNW for over 30 years. She met Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia and has spoken with leaders in China, France, England, Pakistan, India, the USA and even North Korea. Dr. Ashford, former president of both IPPNW and PGS, authored Enough Blood Shed with Guy Dauncey.