Treaty to ban nuclear weapons: Karina Lester

A group of Australian atomic survivors has travelled to Canberra to speak with government decision-makers about their experiences as survivors of British nuclear bomb-testing programs in WA and SA.

They outlined expectations for future action from the government to acknowledge and address the harm caused by nuclear weapons testing, calling directly on the Prime Minister to sign the treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the British nuclear testing program at Emu Field in South Australia, and one of the delegates, Karina Lester, a Yankunytjatjara Anangu woman from north-west South Australia, is a second generation nuclear test survivor from these tests.

Her late father, Yami Lester, was blinded by the tests at Emu Field, and Karina carries his story as well as her grandmother’s story about the impacts of the tests on her people.

“Our mob were not informed of those tests that were about to take place on our traditional lands,” said Karina.

“Consent was never given by Anangu for the Emu Field tests. The Government did not come and ask Anangu if it was okay to test on our traditional lands.

“First Nations peoples of this Country have been speaking up strong about truth telling, this is our truth telling, about the impacts felt by my people, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, the contamination of our traditional lands, the hurt and pain and suffering still felt to this day.

“All Australians need to know the truth about what happened on our own soil.”