Nuclear-Free Future

in the Category


is presented to



Carnsore Point
8 September 2001

Solange Fernex

Since the atomic explosion at Hiroshima she has campaigned, fasted, and vigiled for an end to the Nuclear Age. She lived several years as a health worker in Africa, where, in 1965, she founded the local section of Terre des Hommes. In 1983, together with 11 other activists in Paris, Bonn, and San Francisco – among them Petra Kelly and Sara Parkin – she participated in the “Fast for Life”. The fast, a protest against nuclear warhead testing and the deployment of the SS 20 and Pershing 2 cruise missles, lasted for 40 days and won great worldwide sympathy. She wrote a book about this moving experience entitled, La Vie pour la Vie (quot;A Life for Life”). This energetic woman is also a prolific translator; in addition to a score of books, she has translated several international scientific studies, among them, “The Consequences of French Nuclear Tests in Polynesia”, and the “Chronology of French Nuclear Tests in Polynesia” – translations which enabled the French public to gain access to information otherwise suppressed. As a long-time member of Amnesty International, she is a veteran defender of international human rights. In 1989 she was elected to the European Parliament as a member of the French Green Party. She is the President of the French Section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. In 1995, she traveled to New York to help found the Abolition 2000 network. And, and, and… the talk is of course of Solange Fernex, sixty-seven years young, the buoyant woman considered by many to be the mother of the French anti-nuclear and human rights movements.


“Science must cease to be silenced by the economic interests of the promoters of nuclear energy.”


One of Solange Fernex’s major concerns at present is the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe, especially as to how the heightened background radiation affects the human genome. In a speech she made in Kiev this year, she brought to the public’s attention the inbred scientific collusion between the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAAE) – a complot that seeks to portray the nuclear industry as being Chernobyl’s only real victim.


During her speech she also made public the plight of Professor Yuri I. Bandazhevsky, Rector of the Medical Institute in Gomel, whose scientific research on Chernobyl children contradicted UNSCEAR’s findings: “No increase in birth defects, congenital malformations, stillbirths, or premature births could be linked to radiation exposure caused by the accident.” When she had visited his institute, he had shown her a collection of fetal and stillborn anomalies collected over the course of 2 weeks – a number normally found over a year’s duration. Professor Bandazhevsky had been planning to present his findings to a parliamentary delegation from Minsk. Instead Bandazhevsky was arrested and, on 18 June 2001, sentenced to 8 years in a gulag. Solange Fernex appeals: “The times when Galileo Galilei was persecuted by the Holy Inquisition for his scientific findings should be past. The truth on the health consequences of Chernobyl cannot be concealed, as this was possible, centuries ago, for the movements of the earth around the sun. Science must cease to be silenced by the economic interests of the promoters of nuclear energy.”


The telephone call informing Solange Fernex that she is the Nuclear-Free Future Lifetime Achievement Award recipient confuses her busy calendar. Can she come to the ceremony? She hesitates. And Michel, her husband? He also examines his calendar. No, it’s impossible that both can come. She explains: “We have to get Bandazhevsky out of the gulag.” But once she learns that she can speak out in Ireland about the fate of the professor from Belarus she and Michel both book their flights.


– Together with Claus Biegert, Craig Reishus