Closing Plenary
2003 World Conference against A and H Bombs- Nagasaki
August 9, 2003

Hiroko Langinbelik
Rongelap Hibakusha
Republic of the Marshall Islands

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 a Hibakusha. On March 1st 1954 I was contaminated highly from the radiation of the strongest ever 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 pick coconuts. On my way back, white powdered radioactive fallout fell all over my body. At night, I was very itchy all over my body. I felt sick and vomited.

On the third day after the explosion, a US warship came to evacuate us to Kwajelein. 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 medical treatment.

My hair fell off and my skin was 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, because the US is telling us it has no obligation for continuing some measures such as medical care and compensation for victims. The Marshall Islands had a Compact of Free Association with the United States. As it expired, the RMI government is about to conclude a new Compact, which is a 20-year bilateral agreement commencing on October 1st 2003. It says that it 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.

On Aug. 4 when our parliament opened, there was a demonstration outside the capital by the people of the 4 atolls and others. 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.

Victims of the 4 atolls organized a non-Government organization called (ERUB). Aside from educating the public about our issues, this organization works 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 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