THIS week the Scottish CND group assembled at the Peace Tree beside the Kelvingrove Museum to remember the civilian men, women and children who were killed 72 years ago by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On 9th August 1945 the US dropped its second atomic bomb on Japan. We remember the 140,000 civilian victims of the city of Nagasaki with this powerful poem by Ellen McAteer, reproduced here with the poet’s permission.

The war in the Far East had already been won, the Japanese army defeated, its principle cities destroyed by carpet bombing. The Emperor was seeking terms for surrender.

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As agreed by the Allies after Nazi Germany surrendered in May, the Russian army had invaded Manchuria and were poised to overrun Japan.

President Truman, aware of a post-war ideological confrontation with Russia, went ahead with the strategically unnecessary annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to demonstrate the devastating power of his newly developed weapon.

NAGASAKI 1945
(After an eyewitness account by Dr Tatsuichiro Akizuki)

At 10.30 the siren sounded,
at 11 o’clock the all-clear.
Sticking a needle into a patient,
I heard a drone
as the plane, lost in the cloud,
dropped her baby.

It fell silently
one and a half miles from its target.
It fell for 40 seconds,
and in that 40 seconds,
every move that people made
became a choice between life and death.

Strike.
The buildings turned red.
Electricity poles bloomed like matches,
trees like torches.
Three kinds of colour,
black, yellow and scarlet,
loomed over the people,
who scattered like ants.
An ocean of fire
A sky of smoke.

Then the people started coming up the hill.
Naked, ash-white,
groaning from deep inside,
their faces like masks.
Behind these ghosts walked corpses burned black.
Medicines, needles, and bandages burned,
as I walked on cancer, barefoot.

A mother and child, naked, drowned,
locked in each others arms,
floated downstream,
still connected by the chord:
they were the lucky ones.
We saved many lives that day,
But then, one by one,
The people we had saved
Began dying.

The charred and wounded were gathered in flat carts
like fish to market.
Walking among the victims
of this mysterious plague,
I felt insensible, lifeless,
like a ghost myself.
A soldier passed the groups of dead and dying:
“Shame on you! You’re a doctor!
Why don’t you help them? Help them!”
“It is you that did this”, I replied.

Ellen McAteer

On July 7 this year the United Nations agreed by a majority of members to a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

From next month the treaty will be open for signatories to confirm the support of their nations.

For the first time in 72 years we have genuine hope that nuclear weapons will never be used again and they will be completely eliminated.
Richard Phelps
Glasgow

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Inaction not an option when faced with horror of Trident

I AM not such an egoist as to imagine that my blocking the road and ending up in jail will “achieve the removal of Trident” as Norman Henderson rather unkindly suggests (Letters, August 8). I do infinitesimally small things because infinitesimally small things are all I can do. The alternative is to do nothing.

But nobody ever made a bigger mistake than the person who didn’t do anything because he couldn’t do everything. I act primarily because I reject with every fibre of my being society’s passive acceptance of the ongoing war crime that is Trident, and to alert the public of the true horror of the present situation.

Many people just don’t know that Trident (1000 Hiroshimas) is on patrol in full alert 24/7, or that convoys carrying hydrogen bombs pass regularly along our roads. To what extent I succeed is not in my hands. I leave that to God. I only do what I know I have to do.

I have no doubt that Scottish independence is the only way to achieve the end of these hellish things. No Unionist (British nationalist) party will ever abandon this national fetish. Trident is the sacrosanct symbol of British power and status, and is inviolable.

As Trident cannot operate from anywhere else in Britain other than the Coulport/Faslane complex, an independent Scotland with a written constitution banning nuclear weapons from our lands and waters means a nuclear-free UK.

For this reason I am second to none in my commitment to the cause of Scottish independence. This is where like Mr Henderson, I place my bet – and my life’s struggle.

And why I stop nuclear convoys wherever I can.
Brian Quail
Glasgow

MR Norman Henderson’s letter perhaps allows me to repeat my appeal for all of us to help Brian Quail in his battle.

While I agree with Mr Henderson in his statement that the actions that are taken will not accomplish their intended purpose, they are the reason for my letter in the first place.

As far as I am aware no-one has a strategy to make known to the general public in Scotland what being a nuclear arsenal implies.

What I am suggesting, therefore, is for all of the groups of people who have the main thing in common, that is Scotland as an independent country, to come together on a prime issue, and that is a nuclear-free country.

There are many clever people in these groups and together they could make a very powerful case by illustrated literature, distribution and funding, and most of all the details of nuclear weapons and their threat.

When it comes to the time for a vote for independence, as it will, perhaps some of the people who voted No might see things in a different light, for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

If meeting together and funding become issues, well, meeting is already on the cards, and funding, while a large problem, is surely not insurmountable. Delivery also could be accomplished by voluntary means.
James Ahern
East Kilbride

THANKS to Jim Stamper for reminding us of Labour’s complicity in the austerity agenda (Letters, August 7). In July 2015, even the Daily Record reported Ian Murray as saying: “Of course Labour couldn’t vote against the Tories’ austerity agenda as it’s Labour party policies that the Tories have stolen.” Let’s hope our MPs and MSPs remind Ian Murray and Kezia Dugdale at every opportunity they get.
Joe Wallace
Address supplied

I FULLY agree with Lorna Campbell’s excellent letter (Sorry, independence is rarely achieved by people being ‘nice’, Letters, August 8). There is nothing “nice” about the Westminster establishment. They will stoop at nothing to maintain the last colony of the Empire. It will take something more effective than persuasion to get the job done.
Robert Walker
via thenational.scot

I DISAGREE strongly with Lorna Campbell’s letter. We need to challenge the politics of UK Unionism, and not disrespect and demonise the English nationality of a minority of Unionist No voters.
C Pagan
via text