A leading activist in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, has likened her group’s aim with her struggle to survive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Setsuko Thurlow, who was 13 when the 1945 bombing devastated her Japanese city, spoke today at the formal Nobel Peace prize presentation in Oslo, Norway. The group is a driving force behind an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Thurlow said the blast left her buried under the rubble of a school, but she was able to see some light and crawl to safety. “Our light now is the ban treaty,” she said. “I repeat those words that I heard called to me in the ruins of Hiroshima: ‘Don’t give up. Keep pushing. See the light? Crawl toward it.'” The treaty has been signed by 56 countries, none of them nuclear powers, and ratified by only three. To become binding it requires ratification by 50 countries.
ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn, who accepted the prize along with Thurlow, said although the treaty is far from ratification “now, at long last, we have an unequivocal norm against nuclear weapons.” “This is the way forward. There is only one way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, prohibit and eliminate them,” she said. The other Nobel laureates announced in October, winners of the literature, physics, chemistry, medicine and economics prizes, are to receive their awards today in Stockholm.