Grounded in our founding as an organization of health professionals concerned about the health implications of nuclear war, Oregon PSR’s Peace Program addresses the spectrum of war, militarism, and violence as threats to human health. From mass shootings and anti-immigrant hate groups to nuclear weapons, our society’s reliance on violence and militarism to solve problems is not, as the saying goes, “healthy for children and other living things.”
Thankfully, our volunteer Peace Work Group has grown substantially over the past year, and we are actively bringing the public health voice to a variety of intersecting issues that fall under our broad peace umbrella.
Progress On Nuclear Weapons Disarmament
Inspired by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ success with the United Nations Nuclear Ban Treaty and subsequent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, and given heightened nuclear tensions under the Trump administration, we’ve centered this year’s Greenfield Peace Writing Scholarship topic for Oregon high school students on the question of nuclear disarmament. Please plan to join us for this year’s awards ceremony, with critically-acclaimed Marshallese poet and activist Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner (pictured above) as our keynote speaker, on Saturday, April 28th at 6:00 PM at First Unitarian Church (1121 SW Main Street) in Portland.
We’ve also been reaching out to Oregon’s legislative delegation about a variety of opportunities to voice their support for nuclear sanity through policies that would end nuclear first-strike, oppose preemptive war with North Korea, support the Iran deal, and reduce wasteful spending on nuclear weapons. Thanks to many of you who have responded to our requests to contact your legislators about nuclear disarmament. We are pleased that Senator Merkley and Representative Blumenauer continue to lead on these issues in Congress, and that Senator Wyden and Representatives Bonamici and DeFazio are often supportive. If you are in their districts, be sure to thank them and encourage more leadership. Representatives Schrader and Walden have not stepped up as nuclear disarmament champions, so if they represent you, please be sure to tell them that we need their voices for nuclear sanity.
Mustafa to Return to Portland for Medical Care
The human health impact of war is illustrated by the experiences of Mustafa, an Iraqi child severely injured by US bombing in Fallujah. Many Oregon PSR members have been involved in supporting Mustafa, who was first brought to Portland for medical care in 2008. Soon after his return to Iraq, all contact was lost. Thanks to a 2016 PBS Newshour story and a wonderful reporter who served as a conduit, contact was regained with Mustafa, now 15 years old, and Oregon PSR has been serving as a fiscal sponsor for a project to bring him and his mother back to Oregon for necessary medical care. We are thrilled to announce that with help from Senator Wyden’s office, Mustafa and his mother have secured visas to travel to the US and should be arriving in the coming weeks. We are now partnering with Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund to arrange Mustafa’s visit.
No to Hate in Our State
Recognizing that immigrants, people of color, and Muslims are being increasingly targeted by hate groups, our Peace Program has expanded its scope to support justice for these communities. In January, we cosponsored the We Are All America Week of Action for immigrant, refugee, and Muslim rights, including a protest at the Portland Airport on the first anniversary of Trump’s initial attempt at a Muslim travel ban. Standing arm-in-arm with Oregon PSR members and others to prevent counter protesters spouting hate speech from taking the stage, I was reminded of how important it is for those of us who don’t identify as people of color, immigrants, or Muslims to show up in solidarity and offer our support for events led by these communities.
We’ve joined the One Oregon Coalition’s Environmental Committee to oppose Initiative Petition 22, which would repeal Oregon’s long-standing sanctuary law. We have also become active in the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition in order to identify opportunities to support efforts led by these communities, and we’ll be letting you know about opportunities to support this work for a more just and equitable society.
Victory for Gun Violence Prevention!
In a rare legislative victory for gun violence prevention, Oregon PSR was pleased to support the passage of HB 4145 in Oregon’s short legislative session. The bill closes the “Boyfriend/Stalker Loophole,” so that abusive dating partners and convicted stalkers can no longer own or purchase a gun.
If you are ready for deeper engagement on these issues, I encourage you to find out more about joining our Peace Work Group, which meets monthly and makes this work possible. To learn more, contact Elaine McKenzie, RN, MPH, our Peace Work Group Chair.
Kelly Campbell, Executive Director