I have no arms, but I wave goodbye to nuclear weapons

Click here for short video of Karipbek Kuyukov ‘waving goodbye to nuclear weapons.’

Karipbek Kuyukov, a renowned Kazakh artist and nuclear abolition campaigner, joins Global Wave 2015. 

Kuyukov ‘waves goodbye to nuclear weapons’ despite having no arms as a result of his parent’s exposure to radiation from nuclear testing. He encourages people all over the world, regardless of language, nationality, religion, politics or physical ability to join us in the Global Wave. 

Kuyukov was  born in the village of Yegyndybulak, which is located 100 kilometres away from the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. Over 450 nuclear bombs were ‘tested’ (i.e. exploded) by the Soviet Union at this site. 

‘This land is sacred to me not only because it is my motherland, but also because my forefathers were born here and lived there. For me, it is the most beautiful land in Kazakhstan,’ says Kuyukov. But nuclear testing has destroyed the land and people. ‘We were told, “radioactive substances do not affect flora.” What a terrible lie! Overdoses of radiation cause human beings to suffer from cancer tumors, skin cancer and leukemia. These are death sentences! And, what’s more, according to the experts, the consequences of radiation can affect from five to six generations of people.’

Kuyukov has experienced extreme adversity, including his own health problems and the sicknesses and deaths of many friends and family members. However, through his art and as the Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project, he has been tireless in promoting nuclear abolition globally. He has numerous awards and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his bravery and commitment. 

‘I took up art. I have loved to draw since my early childhood. I do not know why, but my soul was striving toward creating something beautiful. I did this without arms, but with my feet, legs and mouth. I have become an artist, because an artist’s soul cannot be diminished by a physical limitation.’

Kuyukov is optimistic that nuclear abolition is possible. He points to the example of Kazakhstan, which hosted thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons but abandoned the nuclear option and got rid of them all. Kazakhstan, under the leadership of President Nazarbayev, has taken a number of other initiatives for a nuclear-weapon-free world including establishing the UN International Day Against Nuclear Tests, negotiating a Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and hosting many international nuclear disarmament conferences including the 2012 PNND Assembly at which the ATOM Project was launched. 

Despite his physical limitations, Kuykov travels widely to promote nuclear abolition. ‘I will continue to call on all the mankind to preserve security on the planet until my heart stops. I do not want the repeat of these events at any place or time, anywhere on the planet. I am happy to live at a time when the voice of one person can be heard and supported by millions living in the most distant places of the Earth — our voices can become one powerful voice!’