Mayor, Bikini Atoll Local Government
Excellences, Honorable delegates, Distinguish guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a privilege and honor for me to stand here before you today on behalf of my fellow citizen to share with you our thought and ideas. I have travel thousand and thousand of miles to be part of this historic occasion that marked the 56th Anniversary of hardship, suffering, and sorrow.
I'm from Bikini Atoll. Bikini atoll
is one of the 29 atolls and five islands that composed the Marshall Islands.
These atolls of the Marshalls are scattered over 357,000 square miles of
a lonely part of the world located north of the equator in the Pacific
Ocean. Back in the year 1945, December, President Harry S. Truman
of the United States Government issued a directive to Army and Navy officials
that joint testing of nuclear weapon would be necessary "to determine the
effect of atomic bombs on American warship Bikini atoll," because of its
location away from regular air and sea routes. A year later, Commodore
Ben H. Wytt of the military governor to the Marshall Islands traveled to
Bikini to asked if they would be willing to leave there atoll temporarily
so that the United State could begin testing atomic bombs for "the good
of mankind and to end all world wars." King Juda, then the leader of the
Bikinian people stood up after much confused and sorrowful deliberation
among his people and announced, "We will go believing that everything is
in the hands of God." Ladies and Gentlemen,
Victimized friends from A & H bombs, let us indeed stand together and campaign against Nuclear Weapons without delay.
Repeatedly, about 56 years ago my people
have experience the same feeling that has lived in your heart and mind
through the long devastated years. It is indeed a great lost and
regret. Fifty-six year ago, my islands (Bikini atoll) was chosen
as a target test site. As a result, we have been exile for more than
56 years. We have been away from our Godly given land. We have
been away from our heritage island. We have been away for long.
As of today you have given me a hope to strengthen my thoughts and to show
me how you have cope with your feelings and you have amazed me with the
development that your country has reach despite the devastation of the
bombs. I believe we lived in a global world where countries are enter-
dependant on each other an era in which wisdom and knowledge are
needed among ourselves.
History of the U.S. Nuclear Testing Program
in the Marshall Islands such as Bikini and Enewetak atolls: The United
States Government tested 67 atomic and thermonuclear weapons between 1946
and 1958, at Bikini and Enewetak atolls. In March 1, 1954, the U.S. detonated
its most destructive nuclear weapon, code-named "Bravo" at Bikini. The
Bravo shot was 1000 times stronger than Hiroshima and
The U.S. Nuclear Weapon Testing caused environmental, physical, psychological, Mental, social, and cultural effects.
Six Islands in Bikini were vaporized by the tests. Enewetak, and Rongelap atolls are still uninhabited due to high levels of radiation.
A thyroid study conducted by Japanese physicians in 1994-1995 confirmed hundreds of thyroid tumors among Marshall Islanders from islands throughout the Republic. This led a U.S. Congressional leaders to comment in 1994 that the thyroid cancer rate in the Marshall Islands was 100 times higher than anywhere else in the world. The radiological illnesses in the Marshall Islands include thyroid cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the brain, cancer of the liver, cancer of the ovary, and cancer of the bone.
There are cases of mentally retarded victims of the nuclear testing. The film Half-Life shows a mentally retarded child, son of a lady from Rongelap atoll.
Many people in the Marshall Islands associate health problems with the nuclear testing. This is so because the RMI Nuclear Claims Tribunal compensated many cases of medical conditions. Moreover, there are illnesses with unknown cases, which we did not have before the nuclear testing program, such as skin diseases.
The people of Bikini, Enewetak, and Rongelap atolls relocated to other islands and atolls that they are not really free to do whatever they want to do because they do not have land rights. For instance, the Bikini people relocated to Kili Island which we don't have land right for.
We changed our way of living and values drastically. The people became dependent on the western foods after our traditional foods were contaminated. We live on Kili Island that we no longer using our skill of a making canoe. This prevented our men to go out and fish.
The United States provided $150 million to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to create a fund that, means to address past, present, and future consequences of the U.S. Nuclear testing program,including the resolution of resultant claims (preamble of the section 177 agreement)
As of August 15, 2000, the Nuclear Claims
Tribunal established pursuant to 177 Agreement had awarded $72,634,750
for personal injuries, an amount $26.9 million more than the $45.75 million
total available under Article II, Section 6c for payment of all awards,
including property damage, over the Compact period. To date, at least 712
of these awardees (45%) have died without receiving their full
award (Attachment IV, Decision of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, to the Changed Circumstances Petition).
Section 177 of the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall islands provided that "The Government of the United States accepts the responsibilities for the compensation owing to the citizen of the Marshall Islands for "loss of damage to property and person" resulting from the Nuclear Testing Program which the Government of the United States conducted in the Northern Marshall Islands between June 30, 1946, and August 18, 1958.
In closing, let us oint hand and stand strong against A-bomb and H- bombs.
Thank you Mr. Chairman