Kazakhstan nuclear disarmament leadership honoured in the Scottish Parliament

Event highlights impact of nuclear tests in Kazakhstan.

PNND Co-President announces the nomination he made of Kazakhstan nuclear disarmament leaders for the 2017 Nobel Peace.

Photo: Scottish Parliament

March 14, 2017

Today in the Scottish Parliament, Bill Kidd MSP announced the nomination he submitted for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize recognizing the people of Kazakhstan for the widespread and trans-generational suffering they have experienced from Soviet nuclear test explosions in their country, and recognising the people and leadership of Kazakhstan for their effective actions for global nuclear disarmament.

Karipbek Kuyukov (left) with Bill Kidd MSP (right), PNND Council Member Jonathan Granoff and Global Coordinator Alyn Ware at an international nuclear disarmament conference in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Between 1949 and 1989, the Soviet Union detonated 456 nuclear bombs in the ‘polygon’ region of Kazakhstan, 116 above ground and 340 underground. These nuclear tests have had – and continue to have – a devastating impact on the people living in eastern Kazakhstan. Nearly 2 million people have serious health problems, or have already died due to radiation exposure or genetic damage from the trans-generational impact of radiation.

The Kazakhstan experience demonstrates the inhumanity and illegality of nuclear weapons,’ says Mr Kidd, who has travelled to Kazakhstan to witness the impact of these tests and to participate in international nuclear disarmament conferences including one in August 2016 on Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. ‘It has also stimulated the people and government of Kazakhstan to act nationally, regionally and globally for nuclear abolition.’

In 1991, a huge civil society movement in Kazakhstan was successful in moving the Soviet government to close down the nuclear tests site,’ says Mr Kidd. ‘Then, upon the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Kazakhstan government decided not to keep the nuclear-weapons stationed on its territory, but to send them to Russia for demolition.

'And they have followed up with numerous other nuclear disarmament initiatives such as establishing Central Asia as a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and moving the United Nations to adopt a Universal Declaration for a Nuclear-Weapon Free World.’

As such, I have decided to nominate Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev and Karipbek Kuyukov, nuclear testing victim and Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project, for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.’

Karipbek with some of his paintings displayed in the U.S. Senate when he spoke at a PNND event there in 2014.

‘Kazakhstan has inspired Scotland by showing how nuclear weapons can  be quickly cleared when a people insist. There has never been a better time to hear this, before the United Nations Conference for a Nuclear Ban Treaty starts in two weeks,’ says Janet Fenton, Vice-Chair of Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and a speaker at the Scottish Parliament event today.

Scotland supports the UN  ban treaty for these indiscriminate, unlawful weapons, and SCND and the wider peace movement here welcomes Bill Kidd’s nomination of our friends from Kazakhstan for this prestigious award.’ Bill Kidd MSP and Janet Fenton will attend the UN Conference in New York.

Kazakhstan`s leadership and initiatives for nuclear disarmament are recognized not only at the national level but also internationally,’ says Marzhan Nurzhan from Kazakhstan who also spoke at the Scottish Parliament event and who serves as a regional coordinator for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament.

And it is fitting that Karipbek Kuyukov has been nominated alongside President Nazarbayev for the Nobel Peace Prize. Karipbek is a second generation victim of nuclear tests who was born with no arms but has overcome daunting challenges to become an accomplished artist and spokesperson for the ATOM Project.’

‘Mr Kuyukov had previously been invited to speak in the Scottish parliament but was denied a visa by UK authorities for failing to provide sufficient bio-metric data, i.e. fingerprints, which he is unable to do with no arms or hands,’ says Mr Kidd. ‘However, this has not prevented Mr Kuyukov from speaking in other parliaments around the world, including the U.S. Senate, and from launching Global Wave 2015 in which he ‘waved goodbye’ to nuclear weapons despite having no arms.’

The Scottish Parliament event focused on nuclear disarmament proposals and initiatives highlighted in the Astana Vision Declaration adopted on August 29, 2016, the 25th anniversary of the closing of the nuclear test site in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev opens the PNND conference in Astana at which Bill Kidd MSP was an invited speaker, August 29, 2016

These included support for multilateral negotiations to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons, and interim measures such as de-alerting of current nuclear forces, eliminating the reliance on nuclear deterrence, establishing additional nuclear-weapon-free zones especially in the Middle East, undertaking deep cuts in current nuclear stockpiles, affirming that nuclear targeting of cities and populated areas would be illegal, and to further develop measures to verify and enforce nuclear abolition.