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Abacca Anjain Maddison, People of Rongelap, Marshall Islands

World International Conference Against A&H Bomb

Hiroshima City, August 02, 2015

Statement by Abacca Anjain-Maddison

Former Senator and President of (Iju in Ean)  

Rongelap Atoll, Marshall Islands

 

 

“A-Bomb Damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Struggles of the Hibakusha”

 

 

 

 

Konichua and Iakwe,

 

 

70th Year of the atomic bombing in Japan we should ask the question what does it mean?   What is to you as an individual, as a community, as a nation?  Have we done enough are we doing the right thing, what is the next step.

 

I am from the Marshall Islands, a former senator for people of Rongelap and currently the president of Iju in Ean club, a non-profit organization own by

Rongelapese women.  I am very honored to be at this very important conference and on behalf of the hibakushas and families from Rongelap I express our sincere appreciation to Japanese people for you continued support and friendship and thank you Gensuikyo for the invitation. 

 

I have been involved in the movement advocating for justice and human rights since I was 13 years old through my father who was the first Senator of Rongelap.  He led the people out of contaminated homeland to a temporary home on Mejatto island on Kwajalein Atoll and convinced US Congress to admit that radiation level on Rongelap is beyond safety standard and approved a resettlement trust fund and called for immediate actions for clean up and humanitarian assistance to improve living conditions.  This whole experience have taught me a great deal and infact its an inheritance that has enriched life and has made strong as a person who has not nothing but strong willed to speak out for human rights.

 

Sixty-one years ago, a hydrogen bomb called Bravo Shot detonated on Bikini Atoll on March 1st, 1954 was 1,000 times greater than Hiroshima bomb and one of the 67 bombs US Military tested as part of the bomb testing program in the 40s and 50s.  Bravo Shot is a code name the United States used because it was a huge success as designed and intended, it made the US victorious in the arm and super power race world-wide until today.  However, the other side of the story is the people of Rongelap and Marshallese people, Bravo shot brought devastations it destroyed our land and environment, damaged our health and livelihood, violated our human rights and forever changed our lives.

 

Late John Anjain died, was the Mayor and survivor of Bravo shot, also taught me alot about his experience as a result of US bomb testing program how his family and Ronglapese people overtime were in humanely mistreated and suffered.  Ordinarily in our culture, an elderly tell stories to children (folklore) we call ‘inon’ but instead uncle John was telling horror stories.  The bomb changed our culture and the way of  our life the younger generations have do not have to the choice but to live in the shadow of the bomb that includes suffering and death by radiation effect diseases.

 

On the day the bomb exploded, the sky displayed beautiful colors but all of the sudden a loud thundering noise he thought the war broke out and then the strong wind blew off houses and he himself almost fell off his feet that really frightened him and everyone on the island.  Later on, flakes fell off from the sky he thought it was snow, children thought it was soap so they played with them putting on their hair and skin.  Not for long, everyone all 85 residents including infants suffered from skin burns, itchyness, eyes irritation, nausea, vomiting including diarrhea.  Three days later everyone was moved to a military camp on Kwajalein.

 

Three years after they were told Rongelap was safe and they returned in 1957, that’s when all the diseases appeared and people were transferred to US where medical treatment is available.   Women gave birth to deform and monster- like babies and had multiple miscarriages.  Men and women were suffering from various type of cancerous illness including breast, liver and lung cancer.  Today the nuclear claims Tribunal is closed and all claimants from other atolls including the hibakusha have yet to collect half of their award from personal injuries and billion dollars more for land damages.

 

The people of Rongelap continue to live on a temporary home island called

Mejatto where life is hard some have moved on to other islands and United States as well seeking better health care and better life.  Like Fukushima, Rongelap atoll is a ghost town brand new houses awaits for people to return but great fear still remain with the large member of the community they don’t trust the United States after declaring Rongelap to be safe from radiation and regardless of ultimatum of withholding financial resources and other benefits. 

 

There is too much burden our governments have to absorbed now the climate change and sea level rise is increasingly a threat to our islands the people of Bikini on Kili island has declared a state of emergency.  The biggest inundation this year destroyed the environment sea water is springing in the middle of the island causing floods breaking up the septic tanks and flooding homes.  It’s so bad that they are reconsidering moving out of the island and calling on US to take responsibility should there be a repatriation.   Unpredicted storms and waves are becoming norms three weeks ago Majuro had an historical incidents of big boats capsized, ran aground or collided in the lagoon and people’s beach front and sea walls causing oil and gas spill in the lagoon. Marshallese Government is trying to make an assessment but already from what it looks, its will it will cause cost money the Government doesn’t have.   

 

Although it’s a great disappointment to hear the end result of the NPT this year we all gave our best try but we expected it the way it did.  For Marshall Islands, it gives us all the more reasons to hold steady and remain strong with the law suit initiated at the International Court of Justice.  However, there is a need for more and more support individual to sign on especially countries to sign on please help us lobby.  This case is for all of us to safe human kind. 

 

Early this year, Ms. Tschuida came to the Marshall Islands accompanying a journalist at the time we are preparing to hold the first forum on nuclear and human right issues, it was a big help to make our people understand from the international stand point how important it is to network and to be in solidarity.  Thank you Gensuikyo for always in our support and I understand there is group be planned to visit Enewetak community, they really need it.  They are currently suffering from 3 typhoons they are worried about contaminant waste underneath the dome to spread out to residential areas.  Hope this visit would materialize this year.

 

The theme for this session is ‘A-Bomb Damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Struggles of the Hibakusha” it is very fitting to the story of the people of Rongelap and Marshall Islands as a whole.  The world should learn from the experience of the Hibakusha their struggles should never be repeated.   Lemeyo Abon, a survivor and advocate for human rights from Rongelap atoll express her desire for United States to put a closure to her sufferings and injustice by returning her children and grand-children the Rongelap that was once safe from radiation and eradicate nuclear weapons in her life time she is now 78 years old.  “Money can’t bring back the life of the families I’ve lost, so this is the least United States could do” she said.

 

In closing, I’d like to include a message from Minister Tony deBrum he says “My heart and soul are a part of Gensuikyo and I believe with all my being in what they are doing and fighting for.  I just wish I could be in three places at one time.  Japan is also making rather confusing moves in Climate Change, Nuclear Peace and Sanity, as well as in its Defense and Military Ambitions in the world.  So this would have been a good time to visit but please tell them my not being there cannot be in any way interpreted to mean I am less committed...I am just too old and cannot stretch as long as I used to be able too.  Please give them my love and respect as always and you can speak with confidence for all of us.  

 

Thank you