The Marshallese Educational Initiative was established to raise awareness about Marshallese culture and history and facilitate intercultural dialogue. An integral part of that mission over the past three years has been to focus on the cultural, biological, and ecological impact of U.S. nuclear testing and climate change on the people and lands of the Marshall Islands. Through our hosting and participation in special events, forums and conferences, MEI has demonstrated our commitment to environmental, nuclear, and social justice.
We are deeply troubled by the stated promises of President-elect Donald Trump to cancel U.S. funding of United Nations’ climate change programs, including the Paris Agreement that was championed by Marshall Islands Minister Tony deBrum. We are also concerned by the cavalier manner in which nuclear weapons’ use is discussed and his plans to “dismantle” the Iran nuclear deal, an agreement applauded by nuclear experts in the United States as well as the leadership in Britain, France, Germany, and China, among others.
Thousands of Marshallese, many of whom now reside in Arkansas and surrounding states, are nuclear refugees whose lives have been negatively, and irrevocably altered due to radiation exposure, forced relocations, and loss of lands that are vital to Marshallese identity. Now, Marshallese lands are threatened by increased flooding and droughts, both consequences of climate change.
In an effort to facilitate intercultural dialogue and bring awareness to these pertinent issues, MEI will host a nuclear conference in conjunction with Nuclear Remembrance Day on March 3-4, 2017. The conference will bring together scholars and diverse groups who have been affected by nuclear testing, uranium mining, and disposal of radioactive waste to share their research and experiences. Additionally, MEI will host a forum to address environmental justice issues on indigenous lands, including the impact of rising sea levels in the Pacific and nuclear hazards. The forum will bring together researchers, community leaders, and those who experience injustices first-hand.
MEI joins like-minded organizations and individuals who support safeguarding our planet, social justice, and inclusivity.