Abacca Anjain Maddison
I bring you greetings from the people of Rongelap- we say "Iakwe." It is with great honor and privilege for me to join you the peacemakers from Japan and other part of the world here in Hiroshima at this Conference on the theme of "Action and Cooperation for Nuclear Free 21st Century"
We are here today to commemorate the lives of innocent people who died and those who have suffered from inhuman action of the world through nuclear weapons. It is because of the damages done to our land, environment, our people and children and to protect our future generations we are fighting for peace.
In the Marshalls, immediately after the World War II the United States engaged in a nuclear testing program in the northern part of the country until the early sixties. Of all 87 bombs detonated in the Marshall Islands, it was the hydrogen bomb explosion on March 1st , 1954, also known as "the day of the two suns" that the lives of the islanders would never be the same again. The bomb was 1,000 times the size of the weapon dropped here in Hiroshima.
Like the fishermen on "Daigo Fukuryumaru" the 86 people including children on Rongelap at the time suffered from acute exposure to radiation. Later years, the people suffered from thyroid, bone, leukemia, brain, skin and stomach cancer, dwarfism, stillbirths, miscarriages and give birth to monster-like babies. Over the years the people were not only used as guinea pigs, they were lied to that Rongelap was safe. Finally, with the help of Green Peace, the people decided to flee for their lives and moved. Today the community is divided. They lived all over the Marshall Islands, many has moved to overseas. But the main population is on Majuro with Ebeye and Mejatto on Kwajalein the second largest Rongelapese population. Our elders are dying too quickly and the chances of the younger generation to learn the traditional ways of living as Rongelapese is too slim.
Nevertheless, it took a lot and time for Congress to finally admit what they have done to the people. Remediation of Rongelap is progressing under the U.S. Congress Funded Rongelap Resettlement Project. On September 19th of this year, a hearing on the land claim is scheduled with the Nuclear Claims Tribunal. It took 8 years to put together this claim and to reach this far. This is to claim all three atoll: Rongelap, Rongedrik and for the following reasons:
1) Remediation of the whole atoll
2) Loss of use; and
This is the fundamental means to restore the people's lives therefore it is extremely important that Rongelap is awarded to its fullest. At the same time, we continue to ask the United States to provide medical care and compensation through the Change of Circumstances as the Compact of Free Association nearing its ending October 2001, next year.
On the other hand, a project is being on a dream stage. A project that will contribute to as well to the restrain of the Rongelapese peoples lives. It is the Museum project that I announced early this year at the Bikini Day conference. Prior to Hiroshima, I attended the Mothers' Congress it was a very successful meeting and I commend the organization. The museum project was also introduced to many women in the meeting and in return they have given their support. Now I am seeking yours. Please help make this dream come to reality.
The museum project is targeted to open in the 50th Anniversary of Bikini Day that is year 2004. The goal amount is 20 million yen equivalent to $200,000. Temporarily the museum will be built on Majuro using removable/portable materials awaiting the result of the clean up of Rongelap. Since the name for the museum is not yet final, it is called Rongelap Peace Museum. The objective are as follows:
- To educate the citizen especially children about the damage caused
by nuclear weapons
- To use as center to promote the Japanese assistance to the Rongelapese people through the medical care and education assistance, and information, etc.
- To show case the Solidarity with the Hibaksuha of Japan and Rongelap.
- To provide cultural education to the younger generation
Let me tell you a true story, before I came to the Bikini Day conference back in March I introduced my proposed project to George Anjain whom many of you know. Without hesitation he supported the idea. He too agreed that Rongelapese people should be remembered for the pain and sufferings they went through. When I discussed this dream with George I didn't think that his memories would be in the museum too soon. But now, George is gone, he died 3 days before I arrived home from the Bikini Day. So he doesn't know that a lot of you supported the idea. George was 3 years old when Bravo exploded and would have been 50 years old next year. He had many complications to his health all his life, but he died of negligence, inadequate medical supplies and equipments. George was a councilman, a prominent landowner, who is regarded as a warrior for the interest of Rongelap especially with the U.S. for justice to the people.
In addition to my appeal, I'd like to invite anyone of you to the Marshall Islands and to Rongelap especially doctors and scientists. We need your assistance in this matter as well.
I regret to leave tomorrow but I have to attend the parliament session starting next Monday. However, my uncle Nelson Anjain and my cousin Hiroko will be with you through out the conference. Hiroko is a Hibakusha and she will tell her story, her pain and sufferings caused by nuclear weapon. It has been a pleasure meeting new international friends. I wish you success in your deliberations. And you have my support. Last but not the least, my gratitude to the Gensuikyo for the invitation and for all the assistance they have provided to the Rongelapese people.
Kommol tata and Domo Arigato
Go back to the Menu of the Conference