TORONTO – Atomic bombing survivor and peace advocate Setsuko Thurlow called for action for the good of society in a graduation speech at her alma mater in Canada on Tuesday.
Thurlow, 87, who survived the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, told graduates at the University of Toronto that she has acted to warn people of the danger of nuclear weapons out of her moral obligations as a hibakusha.
Thurlow, who previously delivered a speech at the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, called on the audience to “get involved, take action, make things happen” and “persist and persevere” as part of her advice to them.
“Rather than pity myself as a victim of the atomic bomb I have tried to understand the meaning of my experience and what can be done to prevent it from ever happening to anyone else,” she said.
“To this end I have educated myself, worked with like-minded people, spoken out, and advocated for change. And in this ultimate David and Goliath scenario I have persevered through the difficult times,” she added.
For her advocacy work with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, Thurlow was one of the representatives who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the campaign in 2017.
Thurlow often spoke out at the United Nations about her experiences as an atomic bomb survivor, urging governments to ratify the U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.
It marked the first time since 2009 that an entity or person had received the prize for work related to nuclear abolition, following then-U.S. President Barack Obama receiving the award for outlining his vision of a nuclear-free world.
“The year 2017 brought a historic victory in a long struggle for nuclear weapon abolition,” Thurlow said, referring to the adoption that year of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations. “This ground-breaking treaty would outlaw nuclear weapons as a first step toward their total elimination.”