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 citizens to share with you our thoughts and ideas. I have traveled thousands and thousands of miles to be part of this historic occasion that marked the 56th Anniversary of hardship, suffering, and sorrow.
Ifm 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 December of year 1945, 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 gto determine the effect of atomic bombs on American warship at Bikini atoll,h 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 ask if they would be willing to leave their atoll temporarily so that the United States could begin testing atomic bombs for gthe good of mankind and to end all world wars.h King Juda, then the leader of the Bikinian people stood up after much confused and sorrowful deliberation among his people and announced, gWe will go, believing that everything is in the hands of God.h Ladies and Gentlemen, Victimized friends from A & H bombs glet us indeed stand together and campaign against Nuclear Weapons without delay.h
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 island (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 God-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 coped with your feelings and you have amazed me with the development that your country has reached despite the devastation of the bombs. I believe we live in a global world where countries are inter-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 gBravoh at Bikini. The Bravo shot was 1000 times stronger than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.
Effects: The U.S. Nuclear Weapon Testing caused environmental, physical, psychological, Mental, social, and cultural effects.
Environment: Six Islands in Bikini were vaporized by the tests. Enewetak, and Rongelap atolls are still uninhabited due to high levels of radiation.
Physical: 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 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.
Mental: 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.
Psychological: 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.
And social: The people of Bikini, Enewetak, and Rongelap atolls were relocated to other islands and atolls where they are not really free to do whatever they want, because they do not have land rights. For instance, the Bikini people were relocated to Kili Island which we donft have land rights.
Cultural: We changed our way of living and values drastically. The people became dependent on western foods after our traditional foods were contaminated. We live on Kili Island where we no longer using our skill of a making canoes. This prevented our men from going out to fish.
Compensation: 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 gThe Government of the United States accepts the responsibilities for the compensation owing to the citizen of the Marshall Islandscfor loss of or damage to property and personcresulting 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 join hands and stand strong against A- and H- bombs.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.