• File image of Yankunytjatjara Anangu woman Karina Lester addressing an anti-nuclear rally. (AAP)
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), this year’s Noble Peace prize winner, has worked extensively with First Nations survivors of nuclear testing, including Yami, Rose and Karina Lester, who have played a crucial role in the campaign to ban nuclear weapons.
By
NITV Staff Writers

Source:
NITV News
9 Oct 2017 - 5:18 PM  UPDATED 10 Oct 2017 - 8:55 AM

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2017 "for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition".

And for Yankunytjatjara and Anangu anti-nuclear activist Karina Lester, news of the win is “exciting, but bittersweet as well”.  

“Myself and my older sister Rose have been actively involved in really talking up dad’s story, and just recently dad passed and so it’s a little bit bittersweet that he’s not here to celebrate,” she laments.

“I think he’d be very proud. He would be certainly proud of us as a team that gets out there and really speaks up, but [there’s also] a lot of work that still needs to be done.”  

ICAN, an alliance of non-government organizations that strongly advocate for an international nuclear weapon ban treaty, have collaborated with Aboriginal survivors of the Maralinga nuclear tests in South Australia, to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons.

"The experience of Indigenous survivors of nuclear testing in Australia and worldwide has played a crucial role in the campaign to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons", an ICAN spokesperson has told NITV News.

"The testimonies of survivors and their descendants provide the frontline evidence for why these weapons of mass destruction have no legitimate role in our world."

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The Lester family have been campaigning on behalf of Indigenous people who have been affected by nuclear testing in the Asia-Pacific region for decades. Their anti-nuclear stance, however, is a very personal one.

The late Yami Lester was a  Yankunytjatjara Elder who was blinded during atomic weapons testing carried out by the British government in Maralinga, South Australia in the 1950s.

"A lot of people were affected by this and not only Aboriginal people," Ms Lester explains.

"Ex-servicemen and women who were also exposed to this as well."

Uncle Yami died just two weeks after the United Nations agreed to the Treaty in July this year.

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ICAN's work towards nuclear disarmament is considered more urgent than ever with the threat of a nuclear conflict between the United States and North Korea a source of deep concern for the international community.

The global agreement was adopted by 122 nations.

ICAN hopes that its Nobel Peace Prize can help its fight to have more countries, including Australia, sign the treaty, which needs 50 nations to sign on before coming into force.

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