TAKOMA PARK, Md. ― Sister Megan Rice, the 85-year old nun who in July 2012, along with two colleagues, gained entry to the “Fort Knox” of U.S. nuclear weapons complexes in Oak Ridge, Tenn., is one of the “Laureates” to be honored in Washington, D.C. this fall with a 2015 Nuclear-Free Future Award.
Awards are given for “Resistance,” “Education” and “Solutions.” Each award comes with a $10,000 honorarium. Two additional honorary awards are also given.
The Award ceremony will be hosted by Sen. Ed Markey, D-MA, and takes place at 6 p.m., Oct. 28 in Washington, D.C. The venue is still being finalized and an update will be sent at a later date.
The Award ceremony will feature music by Paul Winter and David Amram and is hosted by the Nuclear-Free Future Award Foundation headquartered in Munich, Germany. Local co-hosts are Beyond Nuclear and Green Cross International.
Rice, along with fellow Transform Now Plowshares protesters, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, will receive the award in the category of Resistance for their act of non-violent civil disobedience against the immorality of nuclear weapons.
The three were arrested, tried and imprisoned but were released earlier this year. After easily entering the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, the three unfurled peace banners, hammered on a highly secured storage facility for uranium materials, poured blood onto the walls and left messages such as “The fruit of justice is peace.”
Tony de Brum, Foreign Secretary of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), will receive the award for Solutions. De Brum has led efforts by RMI to get the nine nuclear weapons states to fulfill their disarmament duties under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, including serving as a co-agent in a law suit against them at the International Court of Justice.
The Marshall Islands were the site of 67 U.S. atomic tests during the Cold War that left the region contaminated with deadly radioactivity, forced the evacuation of entire islands and caused long-lasting deadly health effects among the island populations.
Minister de Brum personally experienced the atomic detonations as a young boy including the massive 1954 Castle Bravo shot at Bikini atoll, the largest nuclear detonation the world has ever seen. De Brum has been a resolute voice in calling for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.
Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, a Swiss scientific illustrator, will be honored in the category of Education. In 1987, one year after the Chernobyl nuclear power disaster in Ukraine, Hesse-Honegger began illustrating deformed insects she found in Sweden.
Her findings of deformities and mutations in the insect realm caused by exposure to radiation eventually led her to similar studies around Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, the Nevada test site, near German and French nuclear installations and elsewhere.
She concluded the damage to insects was “likely to be caused by the ingestion of radioactive particles.”
In the winter of 2014, youth members of the Cree First Nation community of Mistissini walked nearly 850 kilometers to Montreal from their village in northern Quebec to protest uranium exploration in the province. The march was the culmination of several years’ struggle to stop uranium mining including a 2012 Earth Day rally in Montreal where they led a parade of more than 250,000.
Their relentless pursuit of justice for their community resulted in a unanimous decision by delegates of the Grand Council of the Crees’ General Assembly in 2012 to adopt a resolution banning uranium exploration, mining and waste emplacement on their land, known as Eeyou Istchee or “The People’s Land.”
Members of the Cree Youth will be honored with a Special Recognition Award.
Ambassador Alexander Kmnett, Austria’s Director of Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will also receive a Special Recognition award. His voice was instrumental in Austria’s call, during the International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in December, 2014 in Vienna, that the nuclear weapons nations fully disarm.
Kmnett spoke forcefully on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons at the 2015 Five-Year Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in April in New York City. This was instrumental in the call by Austria’s foreign minister for a global ban on nuclear weapons because of their catastrophic humanitarian effects, an initiative backed by 159 countries.