The 77th anniversary of the United States' atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan on August 6 was marked by gatherings around the country calling on the federal Labor government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to scrap the Australia, United Kingdom and US (AUKUS) military alliance and the nuclear submarines and to bring Julian Assange home.
The Sydney rally was organised by the Hiroshima Day Committee.
Several speakers said the enduring and horrific damage of nuclear weapons should be enough to prevent their proliferation. But the integration of nuclear arsenals into militaries has raised the threat of conventional conflicts turning nuclear.
Gem Romuld from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said the growing number of countries signing on to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represented a "new benchmark".
Greens Senator David Shoebridge said if Labor did not sign on by the end of the year, the Greens will move a motion that it does.
Nick Deane, representing the Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition, said the nuclear submarine deal must be axed and the billions reallocated to environment and social needs.
AUKUS is a threat to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty because for Australia to operate nuclear-powered submarines, it will have to become the first non-nuclear weapons state to exercise a loophole that would allow it to remove nuclear material from the inspection system of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
This will set a dangerous precedent allowing would-be proliferators to use naval reactor programs as cover for the development of nuclear weapons — with the expectation that, because of the Australia precedent, they would not face repercussions for doing so.
The Maritime Union of Australia, New South Wales Teachers Federation, the Red Rebels and campaigners for Julian Assange’s release lent their support.
Reverend Ray Minniecon acknowledged country, after several anti-war songs by singer-songwriters Patrick Harte, Margaret Walker, Jude, Chris Maltby and Antoinette.
At a gathering in Armidale protesters also called for freedom for Julian Assange who is being persecuted and tortured because he helped expose recent US war crimes. “What these acts of the US Empire have in common is that they were or are intended as a warning to others. It’s time to ban nuclear weapons, reject nuclear-powered submarines, jail the war criminals and free Julian Assange,” Bea Bleile said.