Nuclear Lawsuits Prompt Interest in Marshallese Nuclear Experience

 

In April 2014 the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed suit against 9 nuclear nations at the International Court of Appeals and in US Federal Court. The R.M.I. lawsuits argue that these nations are in violation of their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and/or international law. Nations named in the lawsuit include: the United States, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. The goal: to achieve a nuclear free world. On July 21st, the US filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed in U.S. federal court. The R.M.I. has a month to respond.

Though the R.M.I. does not ask for compensation in the lawsuits, the filing does draw attention to the impact U.S. nuclear testing had on the people of the Marshall Islands, the lands which they so closely identify, and their call for redress.

We’ve begun receiving emails and phone calls asking to help locate Marshallese who experienced the impact of US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, particularly Marshallese who were living on Rongelap and Utrōk. Neisen Laukon, a Springdale, Ark. resident who is originally from Rongelap and lived there after the population was relocated to the atoll in 1957, is scheduled to participate in a WAND webinar with Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Rick Wayman, to discuss her first-hand accounts.

MEI has also been privy to Marshallese accounts as part of the Marshallese Oral History Project (MOHP).  Just the other day we spoke to Utrōk’s Waston Attari, who spoke at length about the testing, its impact, and compensation issues.

Alap Ajlok Beaja, a former mayor of Namdrick Atoll, vividly recalled the day of the Bravo test during an interview a few months ago. Similarly, Almina Maddison, who was on Aelonlaplap the day of the test, described in her interview how the entire sky turned red. These 2 atolls are nowhere close to Bikini, where Bravo was detonated. Though they were not in the direct fallout path of Bravo, there is no doubt that there were many, many more atolls that received fallout than the 4 atolls recognized by the U.S. government.

While reviewing documents at the R.M.I. embassy earlier this summer, we came across several U.S. documents (one of which is included in the video referenced below) that clearly show that the U.S. knew that several of the tests produced significant fallout and that it spread across additional inhabited atolls whose populations, though they did not receive a substantial dosage of radiation as did the people of Rongelap and Utrōk as a result of Bravo, did/do suffer from the effects of long term radiation exposure. It is time that the U.S. government admits it.

This is, of course, in addition to the all the issues of displacement and relocation that the Bikinians, Rongelapese, Utrōkese, and Enewetakese have to endure–a topic that we’ll cover in a future post.

To watch Neisen Laukon’s speech at Nuclear Remembrance Day, visit our Google+ link on our website, or visit our Nuclear Lawsuits page:  http://www.meius.org/?page_id=2226  for a link and additional information about www.NuclearZero.org

To register for the free WAND webinar on August 6th, go to:  http://www.wand.org/2014/07/15/webinar-the-nuclear-zero-lawsuits-why-the-tiny-marshall-islands-took-on-the-nuclear-nine/