Excerpts from a speech by former President J. Ramos-Horta in Japan. Ramos-Horta was on a private visit in Japan, 23-30 October, 2012. He addressed hundreds of peace activists, students, academics and businesses in various conferences and Universities, including the United Nations University in Tokyo.
We reproduced below some excerpts of Ramos-Horta’s timely speech:
We are living in times of great challenges in much of the world but also of hope and optimism for our peoples and our continent. Japan, the only nation in humanity’s history to have directly experienced the effects of atomic bombs, knows too well the costs of wars and the values of peace.
I’m a frequent visitor to Japan and have visited several times the historic city of Hiroshima and toured the Museum that so vividly walks a visitor through the corridors and chambers of horror of the devastation caused by the one single atomic bomb dropped on that city one clear day in August 1945 at the end of World War II.
No less heartbreaking has been my visits to the Holocaust Museum in Berlim that reminds us of the systematic cleansing of millions of Jews in Europe by the Third Reich. In both cities we are sadly reminded of human beings’ capacity to inflict destruction and pain on fellow human beings.
And Japanese people should not be reminded only of the horrors of the effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They should be honestly and truthfully be educated about what brought about the destruction and death in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; as much as we must all revisit Hiroshima time and again, we should remember time and again the suffering and destruction caused by the Japanese Imperial Army in many parts of Asia during the five years of aggression and occupation.
Unfortunately human beings do not seem to ever learn from history. So soon after the end of WWII we had the Korean War unleashed by the communist regime in the North of the Korean Peninsula as it attempted in a lightening, surprise attack to overrun the people and forces of the South.
And we had maddening policies of Stalin in Russia and Mao in China, the 1965-66 mass killings in Indonesia, the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields in Cambodia in the mid 70’s, the genocide in East Timor begining in 1975, the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the Balkan wars and ethnic cleasing in the 1990’s, the on-going tragedies in Darfur, Sudan, Congo, Afghanistan, Syria.
But let us not forget the past wars of partition of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Biafra, Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of tiny Koweit by the Saddam Hussein regime, etc.
And let us not forget either the almost forgotten Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australia destroyed by successive “christian civilizing” invasions beginning in the XV Centuy till this very day. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, indigenous peoples, the few remaining, are still dying today from humiliation, disposession, exclusion, alcohol, massacres, suicide.
The catalogue of human brutalities is a far too long one and still ongoing that make me wonder whether we ever learn!