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Remember the Liquidators

Monday, April 26, 2010

What were you doing on the 26th of April 1986? Do you remember this day? Does Chernobyl mean something to you?

I was 16, and I still remember it. It has changed my life. This accident and the Rainbow Warrior case—just one year before- deeply influenced my adult life, and my involvement in non-violent movement and green associations.

The 26th of April is an homage and a tribute to the firemen from Chernobyl, to the liquidators, who at the risk of their own live and without any anti-radiation gear and without really knowing the consequences as the officials lied to them too, tried to stop the reactor #4 which had exploded, to all the inhabitants and living beings who died this day and afterwards, to those who are still suffering, physically and psychologically from the consequences of this major disaster, on the Russian soil and everywhere in Europe, for the soil who has been irradiated for centuries and centuries.

You may believe since it has happened far from where you live, it cannot affect you. Think twice.

Chernobyl-Paris: about 1,636 miles, and we've suffered from the consequences despite what our government told us at this time.

If you can use this day to inform you about nuclear power plants and alternative solutions, if you can just think of those who died and lost their family on the altar of greed and lies, maybe this day would mean something.

So as to no one forgets the 26th of April, I’d like to share with you two poems Lyubov Sirota (Russian poet) wrote about Chernobyl.

RADIOPHOBIA by Lyubov Sirota

Is this only a fear of radiation?
Perhaps rather a fear of wars?
Perhaps the dread of betrayal,
cowardice, stupidity, lawlessness?
The time has come to sort out
what is radiophobia.
It is
when those who've gone through the Chernobyl drama
refuse to submit
to the truth meted out by government ministers
-Here, you swallow exactly this much today!-
We will not be resigned
to falsified ciphers,
base thoughts,
however you brand us!
We don't wish and don't you suggest it!
to view the world through bureaucratic glasses!
We're too suspicious!
And, understand, we remember
each victim just like a brother!…
Now we look out at a fragile Earth
through the panes of abandoned buildings.
These glasses no longer deceive us!
These glasses show us more clearly
believe me
the shrinking rivers,
poisoned forests,
children born not to survive…
Mighty uncles, what have you dished out
beyond bravado on television?
How marvelously the children have absorbed
radiation, once believed so hazardous!…
(It's adults who suffer radiophobia
for kids is it still adaptation?)
What has become of the world
if the most humane of professions
has also turned bureaucratic?
may you be omnipresent!
Not waiting until additional jolts,
new tragedies,
have transformed more thousands
who survived the inferno
into seers
Radiophobia might cure
the world
of carelessness, satiety, greed,
bureaucratism and lack of spirituality,
so that we don't, through someone's good will
mutate into non-humankind.


To Vasily Deomidovich Dubodel, who passed away in August 1988, and to all past and future victims of Chernobyl.

They did not register us
and our deaths
were not linked to the accident.
No processions laid wreaths,
no brass bands melted with grief.
They wrote us off as
lingering stress,
cunning genetic disorders . . .
But we--we are the payment for rapid progress,
mere victim of someone else's sated afternoons.
It wouldn't have been so annoying for us to die
had we known
our death would help
to avoid more "fatal mistakes"
and halt replication of "reckless deeds"!
But thousands of "competent" functionaries
count our "souls" in percentages,
their own honesty, souls, long gone--
so we suffocate with despair.
They wrote us off.
They keep trying to write off
our ailing truths
with their sanctimonious lies.
But nothing will silence us!
Even after death,
from our graves
we will appeal to your Conscience
not to transform the Earth
into a sarcophagus!

Translated from Russian by Leonid Levin and Elisavietta Ritchie
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Not much mention of Chernobyl here in Germany anymore. Thank you for reminding us of the "legacy" of that day.

    2284 days ago
  • v _VALEO_
    Thanks for adding this link, Don. (I also receive AlterNet.) Funny that the author also forgot to mention France (or Italy, Belgium or Poland), they mentionned Germany and the UK--we're in the middle- as if once again "they didn't register us", "they wrote us off" just like our government did when telling us the cloud stopped at the border.
    Not a single European country hasn't suffered from the fallout, and if it weren't for the Liquidators who sacrified their life, Sallyseagull and I might not be here, the whole Europe would have been wiped off the map just like that. Canada and the US also received their share of fallouts, but thanks to the Liquidators, they received less. It really pissed me off when I see how the WHO and the IAEA minimize the deaths and aftermath--every day in Geneva, there are people who take turns to protest in front of the WHO building.

    I can now see on markets veggies from the Ukraine--not to mention that those veggies are used worldwide in processed food and it is not written on the label. No one can shop with a Geiger counter!

    Mare, you're right. I can't agree more with you.
    We, westerner countries, have killed our industries, and we make "manual labor" a dirty word.
    My point was that Chinese workers are now our modern slaves, we dump our sh*t on other countries: the furthest the better, as long as we don't see it, it can't hurt us.
    It's the snake biting its own tail: we delocalize our industries, and so these industries work, we delocalize power plants as well (which is a very lucrative business.)

    Just for information, France is the second country (right behind the US) in terms of nuclear energy produced, and our country is only as large as the state of Alaska! I feel like I'm sitting on a time-bomb!

    2285 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/28/2010 5:34:00 AM
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I knew a bunch of people who were building the nuclear plant near my home town. They were hard core stoners. Hard core. Gnashing of teeth, wailing.. oh, yes, in a culture that does not value labor, how do you get safe, reliable workers? You don't have to look to China... the US abounds with laborers with no work ethic. We've demeaned manual labor here to the point that people aren't proud of the work with their hands.
    The results will be seen someday.
    All over the globe.
    2285 days ago
  • v DDOORN
    I thought you might appreciate this "find" which was in my e-mail today:

    "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,"


    2285 days ago
    I remember Chernobyl - but there wasn't a whole lot said about it at the time.

    I was living in Penn and working in a factory back then.

    I am sorry for the fallout felt 'round the world from it.
    2286 days ago
    This is a very timely reminder, one that is rather sombre but needs to be said. It is too easy to forget.
    2286 days ago
  • v _VALEO_
    Thanks for your comments.

    I've been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I literally burst into tears. I had 2 watches in Nagasaki, they both stopped at the same time.

    Right now, AREVA keeps on building EPRs (the third generation of pressurized water reactor) throughout the world--they're not safe at all.
    Our (tiny) country is already packed with nuclear power plants to sell to other Europeans countries what they market as "clean energy", and in 2007 our government even signed a contract to build this sh*t in China (not that I have something about China, but when you see their conditions of production and security on goods, it can be frightening to know that they produce nuclear power.)
    We're selling those power plants everywhere (UK, Italy, India, etc. and even in the US) despite the French public opinion who are against nuclear.

    This a dilemma for me, I'm against it and protest against EPR power plants, but in order to write here, chances are my home is using electricity coming from one of our nuclear power plants.
    My uncle--who lives right across my street- produces waterpower and sells this electricity to our national electricity company, I'm sure we could use more alternative solutions like this one.

    I can't call for boycott, as it is illegal in my country to call for boycott towards a country or a company, but I can just call people to join protests against this new generation of power plants.
    2286 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/27/2010 5:35:56 AM
  • v 100LBLIGHTER
    I can remember when I was in school and having fallout drills. It was a big deal..learning to survive with radiation.

    So when this terrible thing happened I knew it was serious. I don't think it touched us as deeply as you....being closer....but I can tell you it did touch me. I also think the world started looking at things is sad when we can create something that we can not then control or terminate.
    2286 days ago
    I was in elementary school and I think (at the time) I was very confused about what had happened. I have been spooked about nuclear ever since. If humans put more mental effort into safe energy sources and less into how to kill each other, surely we'd have better solutions by now.

    Hugs to you and to all of those who still carry the pain, physical, mental, or silent.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2286 days ago
  • v DDOORN
    There are so many man-made disasters and military conflicts with such tragic consequences throughout the years, throughout the globe... Hiroshima / Nagasaki, Bhopal and of course Chernobyl come to mind. But with a little effort I'm certain scores of other horrific events can be recollected!

    How to collectively learn from our past...? Now THERE'S a CHALLENGE!

    Certainly not forgetting and remembering the past, honoring those who lost their lives and / or their quality of life is a starting point!

    2286 days ago
    I was in elementary school and I remember this. It was a world away and in inner-city L. A. no one seemed to care but it scared the hell out of me. I suppose it was the lingering aftermath and knowing how irresponsible we can be with technology. I saw your post yesterday but was not allowed to comment on it for some reason... glad to know that the fallout is smart enough to know to stop at political borders. Ugh.

    My thoughts are with those still affected by this tragedy.
    2287 days ago
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