Hiroshima survivor spreads story of peace
By Express News Service - CHENNAI
11th August 2012 08:28 AM
Ethiraj College’s post graduate department of Human Rights and Duties Education organised an International Peace Symposium on nuclear victims commemorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day, honouring Hiroo Iso, an official survivor of the Hiroshima bomb explosion. The event was organised in collaboration with the Internal Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), South Asia Coordinating Council (SACC) and the Religious Freedom Young Adult Network (RFYN).
Various topics regarding nuclear weapons, their necessity, the victims of nuclear weapons and peace were discussed at the symposium. Thomas Mathew, former president of IARF and chairman of SACC said, “Gandhiji once said that the atom bombs were the ‘most diabolical use of science.’ We know that humans cannot co-exist with these nuclear bombs. Yet how many of us talk about it or take steps to learn about it? This is the time to learn, this is the time to talk of the dangers involved with nuclear weapons so that something like this does not happen again,” he said.
The symposium saw special lectures by Hiroo Iso, S Latha, Assistant Professor and Head, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice Administration, Tamil Nadu Open University, J Mayuran, member of Organisation of Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation and Tenzin Phuntsok, President of the Tibetian Student’s Association.
Hiroo, who is on a tour of India, spoke about his personal experiences after the Hiroshima bomb and how his life changed after that. He narrated how is family was displaced and spoke about the death of his mother due to cancer. “I am from a middle class family of five. After the bombing, not only I but so many other survivors were all displaced. We had nothing. We had lost our roots,” he told City Express with the aid of his friend and interpreter Yukiko Inaba.
Thomas added that there were still so many people like him. “It took me a whole year to search for someone like him and convince him to come to India to spread the message of peace,” he said.
The spring in his step belies his 71 years, but when he talks about his life during the immediate aftermath of the bomb, he is every inch the survivor.
He was four years old when the bomb hit Hiroshima. “We lived about 2.4 kms away from the epicentre. When the bomb hit, all we could see was a blinding light. The roof was blown cleanly away and all the window panes were shattered. My father who was out working came back home but my sister did not return. We searched for four days before we found her at a hospital. My father brought her back home,” he says.
Since his father lost his job, they moved to a village near the sea. Now, he has a family of his own and four children, all healthy and strong. “They’re all okay for now. But the effects of radiation show themselves only as you age,” he says. His niece had passed away due to cancer recently and he himself needs to go for regular liver checkups, his interpreter adds.
This survivor is now a staunch ambassador of peace. As part of a ‘Peace Boat’ Hiroo, along with 100 odd survivors visited 23 countries in 2009. He started spreading his message of peace after he turned 65. “I never wanted to go back to Hiroshima. But once I started visiting places and meeting people, I had to go back there. I go there quite regularly now,” he says.
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