March 1, 2007 Anniversary Event held in the Marshall Islands
On the 53rd anniversary of ‘BRAVO’, the survivors of nuclear fallout
gathered under a huge tent outside the Rongelap Atoll office in Majuro to
offer words of prayer, to pay tribute to dearly departed members of their
families and to petition the United States not to forget its obligations to
Fifty-three years ago, the strongest U.S. hydrogen bomb codenamed ‘Bravo’
was detonated on Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands. Nuclear fallout from
‘Bravo’ contaminated the unsuspecting inhabitants of Rongelap and Utrik
atolls – downwind from Bikini. ‘Bravo’ was 1000 times more powerful than
the A-bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
The survivors organization called ERUB*, had invited Congressman Dennis
Kucinich (D-OH) as a special guest. He was unable to be with them but sent
a letter of solidarity to the survivors stating that these atolls “provide
us with tangible evidence as to why we must not allow the continuation of
nuclear proliferation.” The Collegium leadership of the United Church of
Christ also sent a letter in support of the survivors. Both of these
letters were read in English and translated into the Marshallese language.
Special guests of ERUB included two representatives of the United Black
Christians (UBC) of the United Church of Christ, USA, ten Japanese high
school and college students and a photographer.
During the ceremony a petition on the Changed Circumstances was circulated
for signing. The petition is 1) requesting the American people to educate
themselves on the injustices that the Marshallese people suffered as result
of the 67 atomic and nuclear tests! 2) it is requesting the U.S. Congress
to reconsider passing the Changed Circumstances Petition (CCP) that the
RMI** government submitted in September 2000! and 3) it is requesting the
U.S. Ambassador Clyde Bishop to advise the Administration of the United
States of America to change its position on the CCP! This is in response to
the Bush Administration’s recommendation to Congress that there is no legal
basis under the Changed Circumstance clause of the Compact of Free
Association for additional payment to the RMI government. The Changed
Circumstances Petition represents “JUSTICE” for the Marshallese people.
Help is needed to convince members of Congress to submit a Bill to pass the
provisions of this petition.
In a few days, this petition that was circulated at the March 1st
anniversary will be distributed widely to gather signatures with
A ‘Report back Session’ by members who attended the event in Majuro was held
in Honolulu on Saturday, March 3rd from 5:00- 8:00 pm. The Harris United
Methodist Church Social Concerns Committee, ERUB II, the U.S._Japan
Committee for Racial Justice, and Hawaii – Pacific Islander and Asian
American Ministries (H-PAAM) hosted the event.
The United Church of Christ (UCC) provided funding for the two
representatives from the United Black Christians. The National UCC Church
also sent funds to PAAM in support of its work in seeking justice for the
*ERUB stands for Enewetak, Rongelap, Utrik and Bikini – the atolls that were
directly affected by the U.S. nuclear testing program.
** Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).