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.
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,
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
the shrinking rivers,
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,
have transformed more thousands
who survived the inferno
Radiophobia might cure
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
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