ASTANA – A group of senior citizens in the area of the Semipalatinks nuclear test site, which was devastated by Soviet-era nuclear weapons testing, gathered in Astana Aug. 29 to commemorate the United Nations International Day Against Nuclear Tests and to raise awareness about the dreadful human and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons tests.
The event was held at a local elderly care centre and was opened by the director of the institution for elderly care, Kenzhebulat Bapishev, who emphasised the role President Nursultan Nazarbayev has played in recreating Kazakhstan as a nuclear-weapons-free country and securing a better future for the country’s next generation. “Today we are holding this meeting, supported by the Nur Otan party, to show that we remember all the suffering nuclear weapons caused innocent people. Let’s make this day a symbol of peace and hope,” Bapishev said.
In addition to Nur Otan, the event was also supported by the Ak Orda national movement, the Civic Peace public association and the Kazakhstan Society of Disabled People.
After his speech, the director called for a moment of silence for the victims of the Semipalatinsk test site and all those whose lives have been blighted as a result of nuclear weapons. The moment of silence proposed by anti-nuclear-testing organisation the ATOM Project was 11.05 a.m. local time across the world, because of the V the hands of a clock make at that minute, signifying hope for a victory for nuclear disarmament.
A documentary about nuclear power and bomb testing at Semipalatinsk was shown during the event, and two religious leaders Imam Ibrahim Smatayev and Russian Orthodox priest Father Evgenyi were among the speakers. Both religious leaders prayed for the victims of nuclear tests and exhorted listeners to work for world peace.
A short concert programme displaying the young talents from the local music school and kung-fu sport school closed out the event. The organisers thanked attendees for joining, saying that the Semipalatinsk test site is not only a black mark in the history of Kazakhstan, but a shame for all of mankind. “The ATOM Project initiative must be supported not only by organisations but by ordinary people, in order to make a better world for our children, where there will be no place for nuclear weapons,” one of the Nur Otan party representatives concluded.