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Finish what your parents started

Friday August 5, 2011

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This Hiroshima Day, 6 August 2011, Australian Red Cross begins a campaign to re-ignite the push for a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, calling on young Australians from all walks of life to finish what their parents started.

'The anti-nuclear debate defined a generation in the 60s and 70s, but fizzled out before real change was cemented. But the issue hasn't gone away and in 2011 nuclear weapons are an even bigger threat than ever,' said Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner. 'The debate about nuclear weapons is ultimately about human beings, our environment and the future of humanity; it's time for Baby Boomers to reconnect with the cause, and time for a whole new generation to get involved.

'Worldwide today there are at least 20,000 nuclear weapons in existence, around 3,000 of them on a launch-ready alert. Combined they have a destructive force equivalent to around 150,000 Hiroshima bombs.'

Australian Red Cross kicks off its 'Make Nuclear Weapons the Target' campaign with a major referendum on Facebook, which launches on 6 August 2011 at facebook.com/AustralianRedCross or visit targetnuclearweapons.org.au. The campaign, which involves a number of creative and innovative social media events, will build to a climax in November.

Hiroshima survivor Junko Morimoto, who now lives in Australia, has pledged her support for the campaign, along with a number of Gen X and Gen Y Australian celebrities, including Ruby Rose, urban roots band Blue King Brown, and Masterchef contestant Marion Grasby.

'Australian Red Cross wants to ensure the world never again has to face the horrific humanitarian fallout of another Hiroshima or Nagasaki,' said Mr Tickner. 'To help make this a reality we want Australia to lead the world in renewed calls for laws making the use of nuclear weapons illegal.'

'The people and governments of the world have shown that progress can be made by putting in place significant new international humanitarian law conventions targeting land mines and cluster munitions, but the challenge of nuclear weapons has so far eluded us.'

Tens of thousands of people were instantly killed when a nuclear bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on the morning of 6 August 1945. The bomb destroyed hospitals and health centres, killing most of the city's doctors and nurses.The psychological and physical scars of those terrible events are still there today, almost seven decades later.

'The Red Cross Movement has a unique association with the laws of war, including the Geneva Conventions, and Australian Red Cross believes it has a duty to draw attention to the truly horrific humanitarian consequences the world would face if a nuclear weapon was ever used again,' said Mr Tickner.

'In 1950 the International Committee of the Red Cross publicly called on States to take all steps to come to agreement on the prohibition of atomic weapons; there have been numerous efforts to make the use of nuclear weapons illegal but, 66 years on, tangible change still hasn't been achieved.

'Despite its overwhelming humanitarian appeal, convincing countries to ban the use of nuclear weapons won't be without challenges. This shouldn't deter us - it's time for the world to make sure nuclear weapons become a thing of the past, rather than a threat to our future. Help Australian Red Cross to finish what your parents started,' said Mr Tickner.

For media enquiries or to arrange interviews contact Red Cross media adviser Kim Batchelor on 0457 542 113 or kbatchelor@redcross.org.au

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