Yesterday Karipbek Kuyukov from Kazakhstan visited the Scottish Parliament where he met and addressed MSPs, parliamentary researchers and civil society members of the parliament’s Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament. The visit was timed to coincide with Kazakhstan’s ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The transcontinental Republic of Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, historically populated by nomadic peoples, and formerly part of the USSR where hundred of nuclear weapons tests were conducted between 1949 and 1989 with devastating humanitarian biological and ecological consequences, with two million people damaged by radiation effects. During that period, Karipbek Kuyukov was born without arms. He has since became a very highly regarded painter and has exhibited around the world, utilising his talent and his unique perspective to illustrate and warn of nuclear danger. A number of his striking paintings were exhibited at the meeting.

In conversation with Janet Fenton, liaison in Scotland for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), about the potential for global disarmament, Karipbek said:

If we work together we can reach this goal. I think possessing nuclear weapons is a huge attraction for leaders of different countries as we can see from the example of North Korea. But it is ordinary people that are suffering. Just last December I talked at the UN and called on the leaders of the countries who have not yet joined the global ban treaty to do it.”

Janet also addressed the meeting and brought the gathering up to date with the progress of the ban treaty, the TPNW. 25 states have now ratified the Treaty, half the number required for entry into force as a legal instrument. A number of others are just about to take the step of ratification. In the Scottish Parliament all the SNP and Green members, and a number of labour members, have signed the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge in support of the Treaty.

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