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Bristol Peace Gathering calls on council to back nuclear weapon ban

A prop built for the peace gathering. It is a trailer with a mock wind turbine on the back and fake missiles at the front. A sign attached says "Wind and green energy yes. Missiles and Bombs no".

Peace activists concluded a four-day vigil by delivering a petition to City Hall calling on Bristol City Council to support the abolition of nuclear weapons. 

Campaigners from groups including the CND, XR Peace, Christian Climate Action and Stop the War Campaign held a vigil in Castle Park from August 6 to August 9 to mark the 77th anniversary of the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in World War II. 

The Peace Gathering began with a die-in at 8.15 on Saturday, the moment the first bomb fell on Hiroshima in 1945, killing over 100,000 people. Across the weekend attendees of the gathering enjoyed talks, workshops and craftivism. 

Read more: Bristol-made peace symbol to tour UK

On Sunday, Rev. Sue Parfitt, known for her activism with Christian Climate Action and XR, which led to her arrest outside the Ministry of Defence site in north Bristol, delivered a communion address. 

Wearing a colourful South American stole, Sue conducted the communion and blessed the bread and the wine. She delivered a eulogy describing God’s love for equality for all people on earth, for the environment, and for peace.

The gathering came to an end on Tuesday when campaigners took their petition to City Hall where they were met by councillors from the city’s Green group. 

The petition is received by Green councillors outside City Hall. Image: Bristol CND.

The petition calls on the city council to sign up to the CND’s Nuclear Ban Communities initiative, which rallies towns and cities in support of a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons. The intention is to pressure the UK government to support the UN treaty. 

Green cllr Martin Fodor said: ‘It’s long been Green Party policy to end the folly of building nuclear weapons. Green councillors welcome this petition to City Hall and support the campaign for Bristol to call on government to back the UN treaty calling for a ban.

‘Modern nuclear weapons are many times stronger than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – there is no rational or humane grounds in which these weapons can be used. Now more than ever the billions spent on Trident could be better spent to address the rampant poverty and growing hunger and fuel debt sweeping the UK.

‘In 2020 Bristol’s twin city Hanover brought a display to the City Hall Foyer showing how many Mayors around the world have lent their support to the UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Bristol is a declared “nuclear free local authority’” – it’s time we added our name to the campaign as well.’

Hannah Tweddell, chair of Bristol CND, said: ‘Seventy-seven years have passed since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with 340,000 people killed. We are calling on Bristol City Council and Mayor Marvin Rees to support the historic UN Treaty to ban nuclear weapons by passing a motion in support of Nuclear Ban Communities joining cities including Manchester, Paris and Washington.’

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