Memorial ceremony on November 15 in Montpellier

On the occasion of Japan Fortnight in Occitania, a peace ceremony was held on November 15 in the garden of Montpellier town hall (Jardin d’Arménie). This memorial ceremony took place on the spot where a Gingko tree has been planted, obtained by growing seeds from a tree that survived the Hiroshima bombing. Quite a symbol.

Also in attendance were Mr. Akihiro Takazawa, Deputy Consul General of Japan in Marseille, and representatives of AFCDRP, the French branch of Mayors for Peace, a network created by the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and bringing together over 8,300 local authorities worldwide working for peace.

Our association was represented by Jean-Jacques SIRY, Co-President, Michel Facon, member of the « Artists for Peace » network, and Marie-France SIRY, Assistant Secretary. Didier Perthuison, another member of the Artists for Peace network, was also present, and had brought another version of the painting he had donated to the Mayors for Peace Foundation.

Michel Soriano, Mayor of Lasseran and Vice-President of the AFCDRP, took the floor first to read us the message sent by Mr. MATSUI Kazumi, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace, especially for this event.

In his message, he recalled that seventy-eight years ago, a single atomic bomb instantly reduced the city of Hiroshima to a scorched plain, taking countless precious lives. The lives of those who managed to survive are still altered by the damaging effects of radiation on their minds and bodies.

Then, referring to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, he sadly noted that the idea of a reinforced nuclear deterrent is gaining ground, which runs counter to the wish for peace tirelessly repeated by the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and also recalled the message of the Hibakusha: « No one else should ever suffer as we have suffered. »

And in conclusion, on behalf of Mayors for peace, he appealed: « I ask you to join us in solidarity as we strive to eliminate nuclear weapons and achieve lasting world peace. »

The full text of the letter.

Maria Alice Pelé, vice-president of the Conseil Régional Occitanie in charge of urban policy, took the floor. She began by excusing the President of the Regional Council, Madame Carole Delga, who was unable to attend this evening.

She then recalled that, when she proposed that the Regional Council join the AFCDRP, she wished to reaffirm the values of peace and democracy carried by the Occitanie Region, as « we share the objective of linking the culture of peace to local policies, particularly in the fields of education, respect for human rights, equality between women and men, and international solidarity through, among other things, the promotion of peace and international security ».

Madame Pelé recalled that the Occitanie region shared « the Japanese people’s attachment to peace, and it was a strong symbolic act to join forces with communities such as the City of Hiroshima. Today, in a dramatic international context, we must relentlessly reaffirm the values of peace and humanism promoted by our institutions. »

In conclusion, she echoed the words of Wangari Muta Maathai, the Kenyan politician who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

« We’re planting the seeds of peace, now and for the future. »

These words full of hope take on their full meaning today, in this Armenian park where a Ginkgo biloba grows, a symbolic tree belonging to one of the 3 species of trees that survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb

Then, Michaël Delafosse, Mayor of Montpellier, reaffirmed loud and clear that « Today, the tragedy of war has returned to the European continent. Montpellier is committed to peace. We have received and honored in 2021 Dr. Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize 2018. »

Pointing out that the city of Montpelier has welcomed Ukrainian refugees, and that the Biennale des arts de la scène en Méditerranée is currently exhibiting Palestinian and Israeli artists, he rightly noted that « Cities too can and must work for peace, it’s not just a matter for our heads of state. Peace is built, peace is defended, peace is promoted. Peace is difficult but possible: we have the Franco-German example to remind us of this. Tonight, in this garden of Armenia, we are not forgetting Nagorno-Karabakh, a conflict overshadowed by the war in Ukraine and Gaza. We are also thinking of the Hamas hostages and the victims of its terrorist attacks, but also of the Palestinian civilians, hard hit by Israel’s military response… It is our duty to mobilize energies in favor of peace. It’s essential, because there can be no freedom without peace. »

Concluding the official speeches, Mr. Akihiro Takazawa, Deputy Consul General of Japan in Marseille, recalled that « Today, conflicts are becoming more numerous and more violent throughout the world. It is important to remember where previous conflicts have led us… »

« In Ukraine, as in Palestine, some of the warring parties possess nuclear weapons. The fear of nuclear escalation is returning. The desire for peace is difficult to achieve, and we must do more than just proclaim it. We need empathy and memory to defend peace. »

Jean-Jacques SIRY then took the floor to present our association’s action for this evening, the raising of « Sentinels of Peace ».

Our association’s approach, originally initiated by Land Art artist Alain Mila, is based, but not exclusively, on the raising of « sentinels », a symbolic gesture of peace. This gesture has its roots in the Land Art approach, art being a universal mediation, and falls within the notion of « performance art ». In our approach, the performance is constructed by realizing an idea (that of Peace) through a gesture (that of placing stones instead of throwing them).

In the context of this memorial ceremony, the pile of stones made available to the public can be seen as the ruins resulting from the destruction of all wars, and in particular the two atomic bombings. By « erecting » « Sentinels of Peace », using the stones from this heap of « ruins », people engage in a symbolic reconstruction of destroyed buildings, but above all inscribe this act in an approach and a commitment to peace.

But it was also, and above all, the loss of too many precious lives, particularly civilians. The process of « raising » sentinels or « relieving » them – for a Sentinel of Peace is fragile over time – can be seen symbolically as a desire to honor the memory of the victims of all wars, and in particular of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also, around this very special tree, to ensure the succession of the Hibakusha, those direct witnesses of the only atomic bombings in human history.

To conclude his speech, Jean-Jacques SIRY read the end of a poem written by a 10-year-old Hibakusha at the time of the bombing, then invited participants to raise Sentinels of Peace.

A group of gypsy musicians, Los Kemados Gipsy, accompanied tis moment of the ceremony with a rendition of John Lennon’s « Imagine ». It’s worth remembering that the gypsy community paid a very heavy price throughout Europe during the Second World War (The forgotten genocide of the gypsies [in french])

Sentinels of Peace at Lasséran on November 11

Once again this year, our association remained true to its commitment to Michel Soriano, Mayor of Lasseran, by taking part in the November 11th ceremony, the Lasseran Peace Day.
Michel Soriano made this day a call for peace addressed to all belligerents.

After recalling that the First World War claimed 1,400,000 lives, including 8 local residents, and left 4 million wounded and maimed, he asked the question: why and for whom were all these lives cut short and families destroyed? His highly engaging speech then pointed out the aberration of the colossal sums spent on the army and weapons production, while funds are lacking for health and education, among other things.

He concluded his speech with this appeal: « Let’s wake up and tell our politicians to stop the wars. The survival of our children and life on earth depend on it. »

Then, in a fitting symbol for November 11th, Michel Soriano gave the floor to a young German woman, Manuela, who read out a letter sent by Karl Liebknecht to French MPs in July 1914, urging them not to go to war. A sad reminder that Karl Liebnecht was assassinated on January 15, 1919 at the age of 48.Pacifism is an uphill battle.

Catherine Manuel, elected representative for Cordes-sur-Ciel (Tarn), an AFCDRP member community, read a letter written by a soldier to his wife in 1916, describing the horror of war at the heart of the Battle of Verdun.

Jean-Jacques Siry, co-president of our association, read a poem written by an atomic bomb survivor, describing his experiences as a 10-year-old child during the bombing of Hiroshima.

Then the mayor of Fleurance (Gers – Occitanie), Ronny Mazzoleni, read us Arthur Rimbaud’s beautiful poem, « Le dormeur du Val ».

Three children from the Lasséran school put the finishing touches to this beautiful ceremony, reading in three voices the text of Aldebert’s song, « Aux âmes citoyens ».

Participants then gathered in the Salle des Fêtes for a « pot of friendship », where we were able to admire the drawings created by the school’s pupils.

Of course, we’re looking forward to November 11, 2024.

Sentinels of Peace at the Cordes sur Ciel Peace Days

On August 7 and 8, our association was present at the Days for Peace organized by the Cordes-sur-Ciel town council, a member of AFCDRP, the French branch of Mayors for Peace.

First of all, we took part in the Peace Ceremony held in the courtyard of the Mairie on the 7th. We listened to speeches by the mayor of Cordes, Catherine Manuel, Cordes-sur-Ciel’s peace coordinator, Michel Soriano, mayor of Lasseran and AFCDRP vice-president, and Loréna Schlicht, AFCDRP coordinator and development officer. Jean-Jacques Siry, co-president of the association, gave a speech on peace, and Alain Mila, founder of the association, ended the ceremony with a spontaneous speech.

To mark the occasion, Michel Soriano presented a painting to the mayor of Cordes Sur Ciel.

Then the following day, we hosted a small Sentinelles de la Paix operation in the Place de la Bride.

A few sentinels were raised by adults and children, and we were able to talk to parents about the meaning of this action.

Meeting in Hiroshima

On November 18, with the precious help of Michel and Miho CIBOT, Jean-Jacques and Marie-France SIRY, members of the board of the “Sentinels of Peace” Association, were received at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation by Yoko MIYAMOTO, director of the Foundation’s secretariat, and Tomiro HIGAKI, director of the International Department for the Promotion of Peace of the city of Hiroshima, accompanied by several of their collaborators.
The main objective of this meeting was the delivery of a painting produced and offered by Didier Perthuison, artist in Livers-Cazelles in the Tarn (France) and member of our association.

This work had been created for the exhibition « Artists for Peace » organised in the town of Moissac on the occasion of the inauguration of the Sentinels of Peace garden.
It is now on display at the International Conference Centre of the city of Hiroshima.

During this meeting, we were also able to present the project of our association and our various actions and achievements. The exchanges were very interesting and facilitated by the presence of a member of the foundation who spoke French and served as an intermediary.
Our association will continue through its interventions its involvement in the fight for the abolition of nuclear weapons and a lasting peace.

Sentinels space in Didier Perthuison’s artistic garden (Livers Cazelles – Tarn)

On 20 October, we created a « Sentinels of Peace » space in the artistic garden of Didier Perthuison, an artist committed to social and environmental themes.
In this garden there are many works dealing with overconsumption, pollution, abuse, women’s rights, war and peace…
This Sentinels space is located in a part of the garden where there is another version of the painting donated to the city of Hiroshima and a painting representing some of the personalities who won the Nobel Peace Prize.
With this space, the theme of the abolition of nuclear weapons is now present in connection with the approach of our association presented on the explanatory panel of this space (in French and English).
In the coming months we plan to organise activities on the site with schools and probably the secondary school of Cordes-sur-Ciel in collaboration with Catherine Manuel, elected representative of Cordes-sur-Ciel, a member of Mayors for Peace, which is only a few kilometres from the commune where Didier Perhuison’s garden is located (Livers-Cazelles).

The Sentinels of Peace in Hautecour (Savoie – France)

The association Lez’Arts en Adrets is at the origin of the « art trail » project in Hautecour. Each year, artists create more or less ephemeral works on a given theme.

This year, the project of Alain Mila, « land art » artist and president of the Association les Sentinelles de la Paix (Sentinels of Peace Association) was selected.

It is a project for a permanent garden of sentinels of peace which, beyond its artistic dimension, wishes to deliver a message calling for peace. Building sentinels means marking the world with a symbol of peace. This concept of a permanent garden of sentinels of peace is at the heart of our association’s educational approach. A permanent garden located on a hiking trail, as in the commune of Lasseran in the Gers, or on an artistic trail, as is the case in Hautecour, allows us to deliver a message of appeal for peace throughout the year and not only on the occasion of a particular event.

This year, activities on the art trail were organised all day on 6 August 2022. This date is meaningful because we recall that exactly 77 years ago, on 6 August 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, followed three days later by the bomb on Nagasaki. For years, our association has wanted, through its actions, not only to launch an appeal for peace but also to call for the total and definitive abolition of nuclear weapons in the world, because this is the worst threat to humanity.

The people present on the art trail this year were very aware of the message we wanted to convey with the association Lez’Arts en Adrets and the participants, adults and children, have made sentinels of seace on the permanent garden as you can see on the pictures.

Finally, you will find attached the message of the president of the Association Lez’Arts en Adrets and the declaration of our association.

President’s message on the war in Ukraine

To express our solidarity with those in Ukraine and Russia who do not want this war: Two « Sentinels of Peace » facing the cannon of shame!

Alain Mila President of the « Sentinels of Peace » (a stone placed is not thrown away):

Let’s participate in the worldwide appeal on February 26, 2022 against the violent deaths of the war in Ukraine.

« Sentinels of Peace » in Tromso (Norway)

Jean-Jacques and Marie-France Siry, both members of our association, were in Tromso in November on a private trip. They were able to appreciate the beauty of this community, which has been a member of Mayors for Peace since April 2004.

During their stay, they did not have the opportunity to meet with the town’s elected officials to whom they could have presented our association’s project, as they had done during their visit to the town of Ishigaki in Japan. This is perhaps only a postponement, as a trip in the spring to discover Norway at another time of the year is on the agenda.

But they nevertheless wished to salute, in the manner of our association, the commitment of the city of Tromso in the fight for Peace by erecting a Sentinel of Peace on the summit overlooking the city of Tromso (the panoramic point of Fjellstua).

To be continued …


Tribute to Paul Quilès

On 29 September, at the initiative of Catherine Manuel, the inhabitants of Cordes sur Ciel gathered in front of the monument to Peace, Place de la Bride in Cordes, to pay tribute to Paul Quilès, mayor of this commune in the Tarn region from 1995 to 2020, but also a tireless campaigner for the abolition of nuclear weapons within the IDN Association.

We wanted to take part in this small ceremony because we have never forgotten our meeting with Mr Paul Quilès at the very beginning of our association’s project in memory of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was on the occasion of the screening of the film « La bombe et nous » in Albi.

During the debate that followed, we were able to discover a man of conviction, of great sincerity and of a very strong commitment to the fight for the abolition of nuclear weapons. We have not met him since, but we regularly follow his blog and all the articles he has written on this fight. We will not forget either that it was he who allowed us to meet Michel Cibot of the AFCDRP with whom we worked on the project of our association.
Through his books and writings, Mr Paul Quilès will remain in our memories and it is up to all of us, with our means, to ensure that his struggle continues.


The « Tree of Life » in Nagasaki

Donation to Nagasaki Peace Park – 18 April 2016: Exactly five years ago today, the Yalata Anangu Aboriginal community in South Australia donated a sculpture entitled « The Tree of Life » to be installed in Nagasaki City Peace Park in recognition of the atomic test survivor communities around the world.

This donation is a contribution by members of an Australian community affected by the British atomic tests in Australia. 

Through this gesture, members of the Yalata Annagu Aboriginal community wanted to pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings (Hibakusha) but also to raise awareness of the history of Australia’s nuclear test survivor communities and the forward-looking initiatives they have undertaken to engage, in particular, the younger generation in discourse and action for peace. It is a call for hope and peace between generations and across borders.

A more detailed article can be found at this link

This article is there to remind us that beyond the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must not forget the consequences on the civilian (but also military) populations of the numerous nuclear tests since 1945. We invite you to watch the video created by the Japanese artist Iso Hashimoto which presents a time lapse of the « 2053 » nuclear tests from 1945 to 1998.