2002 World Conference against A & H Bombs
Hiroko Langinbelik, Hibakusha
It is an honor and privilege to be among you today on this memorable, solemn, and revered event. With heartfelt gratitude, I would like to extend my appreciation to the Gensuikyo and friends from Hiroshima and Nagasaki for inviting me to this historical moment.
We are here today to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the A - bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the sole purpose of working together for a peaceful and promising world without nuclear weapons. I do not know if my being here will be an enhancement to the furtherance of our cost, but at least I want to be a part of this movement.
My name is Hiroko Langinbelik. I am a councilwoman for Rongelap atoll local government. I am a victim of the Hydrogen bomb that was dropped on Bikinni atoll on March 1, 1954. I was 12 years old when the bomb exploded. I remember, my sister, three other girls, one boy and I were collecting coconuts, when all of a sudden, we saw flash in the horizon and afterward, wind with the speed of light coming toward the island. It was a horrifying experience. I've never been so afraid in my life. We thought the worse was over but that evening we began experiencing eyes iritication. Our eyes were so itching that we could not sleep. The following day we began having other sicknesses such as: vomiting, bleeding from different parts of the body, hair fallout, and other sicknesses that we could not name. Early the next morning a plane and a battleship came to the island and moved us to another island called Ailingnae. This made matter worse because the island had been uninhabited for a very, very long time. And so there was no water and not enough food to feed us. As a result of that we were moved to Kwajalein. On Kwajalein, we were constantly taken to the beach to be soak for several hours. This went on for six months. After spending six months on Kwajalein we were again moved, this time, to Majuro atoll on Ejit island. We stayed there for 2 and half years. In 1957 we moved back to Rongelap with the assurance of the Department of Energy (DOE) that it was safe now to return. Was that the case? No! On contrary, mothers who were not at Rongelap and who returned with us had numerous miscarriages. Babies were either born premature or deformed. The graveyard was getting bigger and bigger. The leaders, after heated debate as to whether they should move again or not, decided reluctantly, to leave their homeland once again for the sake of their children. Unfortunately, there was no transportation available or funding for that matter. It was not until 1985 that we were finally able to have transportation through the help of Green Peace, which we will ever be grateful.
During the times that we were moved back and forth between the islands, we went through a lot of hardships and difficulties. We were not welcomed in many places because of our conditions (radiation effects). It was as if we were carrying threaded diseases, which we did, but at least they were not contagious. In this case, our pride and dignity were taken away from us.
It is our desire (Rongelapese) to regain that which was taken from us. It is for this purpose that the leaders of Rongelap and its people are working around the clock in soliciting funds for the Rongelap Peace Museum. We are going to build the Museum on Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, with the hope of educating marshallese or promoting awareness about the damages and effects of the US nuclear tests.
Brethren and sisters, in closing, I like to challenge each and every one of us here today to commit ourselves to the theme - "Working together for a Peaceful and Promising World Without Nuclear Weapons". We owe it to our children. Let's not rob them of their future. Thank you very much.