Iakwe and Konichiwa!
I bring you greetings from the people of Rongelap especially from John and Nelson Anjain including Senator Abacca Anjain-Maddison. I am very honored once more to be here with you good people not only to share our story and experiences in the Marshalls but also to learn from you and to renew our friendship and solidarity toward peace.
I am a Hibakusha. On March 1st 1954 I was contaminated highly from the radiation of the strongest hydrogen bomb called Bravo. I was only 12 years old then. But I remember exactly what happened that day, for it was the day that changed my life forever.
Early morning on that day, I was cooking lunch for school with my friends. Suddenly I saw a lightening flash, and then felt strong wind from all around the island. After it became quiet, I went to the school. The topic in the classroom was what had happed to us. But Nobody knew. After that I went to Japaan to pick coconuts. On my way back home, white powder fell on us. It fell all over my body. But I didn't know what it was. At night, I was very itchy all over my body. I couldn't sleep. I felt sick and vomited.
On the third day after the explosion, a US warship came to evacuate us to Kwajelen. There I was told to soak my body in the sea every day. I had 30 cc of blood taken every day and a sample of burned skin was also taken. I didn't receive medial treatment.
I remember how the radiation has brought me pains and sufferings mentally and physically. My hair fell off and my skin severely burned. I had thyroid cancer, miscarriages and other health complications. The scars of injustice done to me will never go away. And I will never stop fighting for justice for the sake of my children and the world.
This year I have been very active in getting our story to be heard by people around the world especially in the United States. I have been interviewed with Radio Australia, Honolulu Radio, newspaper and TV station and others with regard to the Compact of Free Association with United States, particularly the Health program and the Nuclear claims funds based on Section 177 Agreement. It is known that the compact has been signed and ready for legislators from US and Marshall Islands to approve even if it has a lot troubling provisions in it. The Compact of Free Association with the United States is a 20 year agreement between the two countries commencing on October 1st 2003. This time, U.S. is telling us it has no obligation for medical care for our children through the 177 health care program. And they will not provide funding for all personal injuries and our claim for land damages. We, the leadership from the four affected atolls, Rongelap, Utrik, Enewetak and Bikini, are very upset, and we will be strong, together in fighting for compensation.
Tomorrow while the parliament is opening its last session for this term, there will be a demonstration outside the capital by the 4 atoll people along with Kwajalein people and the chiefs from Majuro and their people. They are showing the Marshallese and US governments that they are not satisfied with the current Compact and they are demanding the parliament not to approve the Compact to allow more time to make the Compact better than it currently is.
A non-Government organization called (ERUB) Enewetak, Rongelap, Utrok, Bikini has been formed recently. Aside from educating the public about our issues and work side by side with our local governments, this organization work closely with churches, mainly from the United States, to channel the concerns of the Hibakusha of the Marshall Islands through their Senators and Congressmen. We are officed at the Rongelap building and we are planning for the 50th anniversary on March 1st next year in Majuro and I would like to extend an invitation for anyone to come and join us.
Also the Rongelap Peace Museum for exhibiting the damage of the Bikini tests and the islanders' struggle is expected to be opened in next March. So please come and witness this very auspicious occasion that you and I have been working hard for. Last, but not the least, I would like to thank each and every one of you who have donated to the Rongelap Peace Museum. Your contribution makes the Rongelap Peace Museum possible and no amount of words could express how happy and grateful the Rongelapese people are for this wonderful project. So see you in Majuro in March 2004!
Do mo arigato